A DENBIGHSHIRE businesswoman is making Valentine's Day celebrations across Wales and beyond a little sweeter thanks to her delicate sugared flowers.
Corwen-based business Eat My Flowers has recently completed a large order supplying candied flowers and floral lollipops for this year’s Valentine's Day range at London shopping emporium, Fortnum and Mason.
Using techniques passed down from her grandmother, producer Sarah Hughes transforms plants grown in her garden into delightful edible gifts.
Thanks to support from Cywain, a Menter a Busnes added value project that assists Welsh food producers, Eat My Flowers has rapidly blossomed from a small kitchen-counter operation to featuring on the shelves of some of Britain’s biggest department stores.
Having left her previous job as an advisor helping people out of work start their own businesses, Sarah used her expertise to set up Eat My Flowers, with support and guidance from Cywain ensuring the budding business bloomed.
Sarah said: “After finishing my advisory work in 2010, I took some of my own advice and looked for a business that fits around my life and family while using my skills in horticulture and marketing.
“I set up a company growing edible flowers for culinary use, and the crystallised flowers emerged as an obvious route to follow.
“Crystallising the flowers is something I’ve always done after my grandmother taught me how to make them. I don’t really like eating icing on cakes, and used to use them to decorate my own home baked cakes.
“Eat My Flowers has quickly developed into the business I have today, and as this is our second full year, we’ve really seen things pick up over the last few months ahead of Valentines Day.
“Last year we supplied Valentine's Day and Easter products for Harrods, and we’ve just completed a substantial order this year with Fortnum and Mason.
“We’re also going to be supplying flowers for the St David’s Day lunch at the Welsh Office in Brussels, and we’re really honoured to be representing Wales on an European stage.
“We get everything from corporate orders and product launches to one-off gifts, which is what’s so nice about the flowers - you come into contact with all sorts of people that are sharing some really lovely gifts.”
Having spent months perfecting her intricate gifts, which involves crystallising flowers in sugar, Sarah went about pitching her products to some of London’s leading hotels.
She also targeted the bridal market, tapping into contemporary themes of vintage, home-made weddings, as well as developing her website and social media presence.
The business development was supported by expert advice from Cywain, which Sarah first heard about after taking part in a Denbighshire food producers meeting.
“I heard other producers talking about it, and approached Cywain for more information. Since then they’ve been absolutely fantastic,” Sarah said.
Cywain development manager Caroline Dawson said she hoped to see Eat My Flowers go from strength to strength.
She said: “Eat My Flowers is a really unique, well planned business, and Sarah has done a fantastic job of maximising the opportunities that are out there for independent Welsh producers.”
People can find the full range of Sarah’s products by visiting www.eatmyflowers.co.uk, or for more information on Cywain, visit menterabusnes.co.uk/cywain.