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Elly's Flowers in Southwater

Jessica Lintott at Elly's Flowers

Published on 22 June 2020

A national lockdown during a global pandemic isn’t an ideal time to start a business, especially if you’re ten-years-old. Yet remarkably, Jessica Lintott has done precisely that. After selling bunches of posies outside her Southwater home, Elly’s Flowers has developed beyond her wildest dreams, with a little help from mum and dad! 


So, how was the business born?

During lockdown, Jessica was stuck indoors, missing her grandparents and friends. She wanted to make some money to buy an AirTrack (a bouncy mat used for gymnastics and exercise) and had the idea of growing flowers and selling them to cheer people up.

Which didn’t quite pan out…

The Lintott’s have three rabbits, so plants and flowers tend not to last. However, after working the night shift at Bognor Regis Fire Station, her firefighter dad, Steve, visited a nursery and bought ten bunches of flowers. Steve said: “I told Jessica she could sell them outside the house, but not to be too upset if nobody bought any. At worst, we’d have a household full of flowers. After 15 minutes, she’d sold the lot!”

Who bought them?

 Mostly neighbours. Jessica said: “I sat outside on my beanbag reading and whenever somebody came along I served them. It was mostly people out walking dogs or jogging and then they’d tell others. It was nice, as lots of people haven't had anyone to talk to and I like brightening up people's day. That’s our motto!” 

What’s behind the name?

The business is named after a cuddly elephant that Jessica’s had since birth and can't live without.

Did she reinvest her profits?

She did. Steve returned to the nursery and bought 50 more bunches, thinking it would last his daughter a long time. But Jessica sold the lot that very same day, forcing him back to the nursery for 120 more bunches. They’d all disappeared before the weekend was over. “It was going really well, as everybody stuck to social distancing rules,” said Steve. “We worked out a system where people could pick from our Alstroemeria, pink carnations and sweet Williams without us needing to handle any money. It was very relaxed and friendly.”

Must have raised a few eyebrows…

It did indeed! In fact, the popularity of Elly’s Flowers alerted Trading Standards, who said the business couldn’t continue to operate in that way. Steve said: “They were kind and understanding, but told us that customers couldn’t visit our house during lockdown. We asked if we could deliver instead and they said that was fine. So, we set up a Facebook page.”

And the business continued to grow?

Word spread beyond the village and the family purchased a delivery van, affectionately named Betty. Tanya said: “All of the ideas came from Jessica, with Steve and I handling the grown-up elements of the business. But in the early days when she was selling outside, Jessica used a spreadsheet to write down what she was making and what she spent, so she could calculate her profits.” 

A real entrepreneur then!

It’s not all about the bottom line though.In January, Tanya’s dad lost his fight with cancer, so the Lintott family pledged a percentage of profits to St Catherine's Hospice. Elly’s Flowers has since made its first donation and delivered 30 bunches of flowers to staff to say ‘thank you’ for the care they provided. In addition, Jessica has been brightening people’s day through random acts of kindness.

In what way?

To mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the Lintotts made up 75 bunches and during their delivery rounds handed out free flowers to people out marking the day by decorating their homes and gardens. Jessica said: “Near the end of the day, we had one bunch left when an ambulance pulled up alongside us at the traffic lights. Dad got out the van and handed it to the two ladies inside, which was cool!” Sadly, the family soon suffered further heartache…

What happened?

Jessica lost her second grandad in a matter of months when Steve’s dad died after a heart attack. They considered ending the business, but reading the messages people had requested for the next day’s flower deliveries gave them the impetus to carry on. “Some were celebrating anniversaries or sending flowers to loved ones they were missing during lockdown,” said Steve. “At a dark time, we found them hugely uplifting. We also received 128 messages on Facebook from people offering their support and condolences, and we are very grateful for that.”

Has the range of flowers expanded over the weeks and months? 

Tanya has become increasingly involved and uses her artistic flair to prepare mixed bunches, with bouquets ranging from £10 to £20. Some even come with a little elephant! “Although our flowers are beautiful, the bouquets don't have the foliage and extra thrills that you get with more traditional florists,” said Tanya. “Perhaps people like that, as we’re offering good value for money in terms of the plants.” 

It must have brought them closer together as a family?

With Tanya having been furloughed, it’s given her something to do, while spending quality time with Jessica. Tanya said: “It's incredible that from Jessica selling a handful of flowers at the end of the driveway, we’ve somehow launched a successful business during the most challenging of times!” n

Visit the Elly’s Flowers website: www.ellysflowers.co.uk

The Facebook page:@Ellys-flowers

Photos: Toby Phillips Photography / Interview: Ben Morris