If you are passionate about something, you will make it work. Those are words of advice from mother-of-one Sara Barrow, who sold up her business to train as a florist.
Even as a child Sara, of Goosnargh, had an eye for floristry.
Taking inspiration from her late mother Joanna Hinde, who loved arranging flowers, Sara decided to turn her hobby into a career.
After successfully qualifying in commercial floral design, she sold her clothing and gift shop and set up Flowers with Passion, in Longridge.
The 54-year-old says: “I grew up in Norfolk. My mum was a keen gardener and flower arranger and was taught by Constance Spry, who was a well-known arranger.
“I would watch her doing flower arranging and tried to copy her.
“Mum allowed my two brothers and I to have a spot in the garden and I used to grow flowers. I picked the best flowers and tried to arrange them well.
“Mum died two years ago but I believe in fate and that she was steering me towards being a florist.”
Sara’s early career took her in a different direction.
She moved to Burnley with her first husband when she was in her early 20s and she was inspired to design and make children’s clothing.
She opened up a shop selling the clothes, but after she struggled to sell them, she decided to stock other brands.
She then set up Sara’s – a children’s clothes and gift shop, in Clitheroe.
As the recession hit, she struggled to afford the increased rent and sold the business in 2008.
But not before she began to expand her empire and open up a tea room and flower shop in Ribchester with husband Carl.
She adds: “In 2007, I found an old barn in Ribchester that had been converted into offices. Carl said the rent was too high but I fell in love with it.
“I decided we could open up a tearoom downstairs and as a flower and gift shop upstairs.
“The offices located opposite a school – it was the summer holidays and as I wanted to open up to coincide with the new school term, I realised we only had six weeks.
“I rang Myerscough College telling them I needed to learn floristry in six weeks.
“I was told it would be difficult, but they encouraged me to sign up to any day courses that were available and persuaded me to do a degree course.
“I did that over two years – so I was working at the tea room, I still had the children’s clothes shop and I was studying.
“I realised floristry was my vocation and passion and so after the first year I sold the tea room to concentrate on my studies.
“I graduated with a distinction in commercial floral design in 2011 and I worked from a home studio until March last year when I opened up a shop in Longridge.”
Sara has celebrated several successes in such a short space of time, including a silver at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011 and a gold three years later.
She also won highly commended for Best Creative Business in the Ribble Valley Business Awards.
Sara adds: “My mum was disabled and was never able to get to the Chelsea Flower Show, so I made my mum a promise to get a gold medal for her.
“My first time in 2011 I got a silver. I went again in 2012 and didn’t win anything and I finally got a gold in 2014.”
The mother-of-one is now encouraging people who are considering a career in floristry to take the bullet.
She says: “You have to be really passionate and be prepared to work hard.
“My husband and I work together and we rarely get time off. We grow our own flowers, but have encountered problems with the weather and pigeons.
“We spend a lot of time getting the right arrangements for weddings.
“We also do workshops and demonstrations to support anyone thinking of entering the field.”