Are you looking to brighten someone's day with flowers? Brown's the Florist has everything you need to bring some life and colour to any room! They have a beautiful assortment of cut and potted flowers for you to choose from, in all of their three locations. Since March is Women's History Month, we want to help support the fabulous women entrepreneurs in the downtown core, including Brown's the Florist's wonderful owner, Natasha!
Brown’s the Florist
Brown’s the Florist has a full and rich history, having first opened at the end of the 19th century. With Natasha, the current owner at the helm, they are still going strong today! They offer a beautiful selection of potted and cut flowers, including orchids, tulips, and roses. They also sell plant accessories and soil. Can’t make it down to the store? Not a problem! Order online or over the phone and ask about getting your flowers delivered!
What is your background?
“Brown’s The Florist dates back to a time when men controlled businesses and women were given few rights as citizens. Our company’s story starts with a woman, Mary Ann Brown, who arrived in Esquimalt in 1870 and outlived 5 of her husbands, all the while establishing a successful nursery business, Fairview Esquimalt Greenhouse Ltd. on Esquimalt road where the Archie Browning Arena now stands. She opened the florist Downtown on Broad Street in 1900.
In 1912, Mary Ann’s company was purchased by Brown Brothers Ltd of Vancouver and there begins the story of Brown’s The Florist. One can only imagine the struggle of owning a business that deals in luxury goods during the tight days of WWI, the Depression, and WWII. Worried that his beloved greenhouses would become lost in the extensive holdings of Brown’s Brothers Company limited, William bought the Victoria business from his family in 1917. You can learn more here: https://brownsflorist.com/our-history/
Between 1950 and 1977 the company sold twice, the first time to Burt Reid, and subsequently to his nephew Frank Wright. They were both members of the Brown family. In the early 60’s, their greenhouses were moved to Saanich. The retail operation was moved to the 600 block of View Street in downtown Victoria. In the late 60’s Frank Wright moved the retail store to the corner of Yates and Broad, where it was a Victoria landmark for decades. On April 1, 1977, he sold it to Christine Dysart, Herb Widdifield, and two other partners. Christine (Chris) and Herb purchased Holloway’s Sidney Florist and brought it into the Brown’s family. In 1995 they opened a branch in the Hillside Shopping Centre.
In 1996, Brown’s The Florist launched its first website and opened up flower ordering to those all over the world who wanted to send flowers to their friends and loved ones on Vancouver Island.
Natasha purchased Brown’s The Florist on April 1, 2007, exactly 30 years to the day after Chris did. Chris remained a business Coach to Natasha for several more years and the two remain fast friends, a rarity when a business changes ownership.
The values remain the same as they were so many years ago under Mary Ann Brown: “more than simply meeting the customer’s needs.” More seems to be the goal of the women of Brown’s; more community involvement, more focus on customers, more dedication to providing local products.”
What made you want to open your business?
“Natasha is the 5th owner of Brown’ The Florist, one of the largest independently owned floral companies in Canada. A three shop model owned by a woman is almost unheard of in an industry with 10% female ownership. Usually men own florists and have women work for them. Today, under the energetic leadership of Natasha Crawford, Brown’s The Florist offers professional florist services from three locations in Greater Victoria: Downtown on Fort Street, in Sidney, and in Westshore.”
For someone who hasn’t been in Brown’s the Florist before, what is your business? What makes it special?
“Brown’s The Florist is a team of talented professional florists who have a spark for nature, design, and creativity, and who are ready to take on any challenge with a “yes we can” attitude.
We specialize in quality flowers, plants, and gifts and we carry a large variety of 75% fresh locally grown and 25% fair-trade (as best we can) imported flowers and plants which arrive in our shops almost daily. Before COVID-19, most of our staff would work at all three of our locations.”
What inspires you?
“Nature with all of its imperfections is perfect in every way. Taking a flower and knowing that its purpose is to bring joy and to share nature by allowing it to showcase its natural beauty inside the home of a person who may not have been given a hug today is a very special gift that I cherish about being a florist.
Our team is inspiring. What we can do with flowers and design on a daily basis is a testament to the grit and strength of our designers. Every day we make beautiful things and work really hard to help people stay connected from a distance with flowers.”
“We are a small business that started in Victoria before the Parliament buildings were built. We have been a local florist since before the Empress Hotel was built. We are proud to still be in the Downtown core of Victoria and are grateful to our customers who through the decades have supported us to be here. We feel established businesses are the framework that new businesses can graft onto. Many businesses come and go and we are proud to be one who has stayed. We look forward to the future and plan to be in Victoria for many decades to come.”
What advice would you give to others who want to start a business? What would you have liked to know before you opened yours?
“My advice is to be happy with the business you are in. Be sure to pick something you enjoy because it really helps you find your passion when the going gets rough and you are in charge of a team who is counting on you to stay strong.
It’s easy to open a business… or buy a business… but to stay in business requires adaptability and a love of change in all its forms. Being able to think on your feet, pivot your strategy and keep your team motivated are all skills that make or break the success of a business owner. It’s not the strongest or the biggest who always survive but the ones who really love what they do and do what they love!!”
How to find Brown’s the Florist:
Brown’s the Florist has three locations, one in the Westshore, one in Sidney, and one at 757 Fort Street. Their downtown store can be reached over the phone at 250-388-5545 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram, and don’t forget to check out the online store on their website!