In this latest Spanish expat interview I talk to Paul & Karen about their newly opened flower boutique, Cream and Browns Florist, located in Javea’s Port.
I decided to go meet Paul and his Fiancée Karen to find out why they moved to Spain and what made them start their own business in Spain. As we speak Karen is busy fulfilling orders to be delivered that day for a funeral.
Paul, when and why did you move to Spain?
I first moved here in 2000. I had run a cable TV business in the UK which I sold. I had a very intensive, seven days a week business so it was a good time for a change and so I took the opportunity to move out to Spain.
Perhaps the change in lifestyle was just too great for me because in all honesty I have to say I became bored here.
It so happens that my mother is half Canadian and an opportunity in 2002 came up to move to Canada which I took. It was there that I met my Fiancée Karen who I’m getting married to next year. Karen is a florist with extensive diplomas trained in Vancouver and the UK. She also ran a Florist in Canada and is a qualified interior designer.
What was wrong with Canada, only it seems a popular place for people to consider moving to these days?
Canada is a fantastic country, it was mainly the fact we were in Vancouver, right over the other side of Canada and it was a long way from our family over here in Europe, so that became the main reason we considered coming back.
We had originally planned to return to the UK, which we did but we just couldn’t settle or warm to it. Once you have moved away it is hard to move back. Now when people talk to us about the UK, a lot of things they talk about we don’t know of, so we are out of the British culture really. Yes it was beautiful the area we were looking to move back to but the weather was just awful and we decided to move to Spain instead!
Ok so for the second time I’m going to ask you why you moved to Spain!
Well it was quite an easy decision, all of my family now live in Spain and although Karen has family in the UK, it is just two hours (flight) away so the beauty of Spain is that you are really very close to the UK but in a completely different climate and culture.
Let’s talk about your business, tell us a little more.
Basically Cream and Browns is a funky contemporary flower boutique.
We are set in an old town house right on the sea front of Javea Port with amazing views.
We sell fresh cut flowers from Holland, stunning bespoke bouquets, lots of exotic plants and funky contemporary arrangements.
We are not a typical Spanish florist, everything we display and sell is individually wrapped with no two items being the same. We also cover weddings, funerals, private functions and parties.
One of our main attractions is that we deliver anywhere between Javea and Orba which you don’t often find in Spain. Also we try to cater for everyone with very reasonable prices.
We are right in the middle of this credit crunch, so how is business?
So far we are doing much better than we expected. We only opened up in May of this year (2008) and still many people don’t know we are here. The important thing with any business in Spain in a tourist area is to be able to get through the winter months so always allow for that very quiet off-peak time if you are thinking about starting a business here in Spain.
What made you choose to start up a business in Javea?
Market research – we looked into other towns on the Costa Blanca but for our business we felt Javea had the right type of customer base. Javea has an up market edge to it with a good cross-section of people of all ages from young families up to retirees.
Because Javea has three distinctly different areas it appeals to all of these different audiences. You have the touristy beach area known as the Arenal, the Port which remains a working harbour with the fishing boats going out in the morning and retuning in the evening with their fresh catches and then there is the old town which is very traditional and of course very Spanish.
You have an amazing location here by the way. I should point out that we are right on the seafront which has a wonderful promenade lined with restaurants and cafes. I don’t know how you do any work being located here!
Mark that’s the thing I wanted to tell your readers – we often work twelve hours a day doing everything from the buying to the delivering and the million and one other things in between and people tell us we are mad but I think that’s one of the mistakes many people make when they move to Spain.
We don’t think people take a move to Spain very seriously. They tend to come here with rose tinted glasses, immediately thinking once they are here, that’s it, job done!
It doesn’t matter what your status is in life, we think you need to hit the ground running and get a job straightaway. Many people take time off to begin with and in the meantime the money is going down and they almost become too laidback as if this is one big holiday, then the money runs out and they end up going back.
You really have to embrace the local culture because if you try fight it you will lose every time. Yes you will have water cuts, electricity failures and issues with dealing with the local town halls but you have to adjust and adapt and realize this is not England.
When we moved to Javea we did our homework and we put the kids first by looking into the schools and deciding where would be best for them. This was top of our list because it was essential that they felt happy with the move to Spain.
What school do they go to?
They go to an International school, the XIC in Javea. We looked at the Lady Elizabeth school but preferred the XIC and the children could not be happier, we are absolutely delighted. There are just 12 in the class compared to a niece who has 35 in the UK so I think they get that extra attention from the teachers. The XIC is run like a family, isn’t at all stuffy and the head teacher knows the names of every single pupil.
Paul, thanks for giving up your time to talk to us and I hope some of our readers will come seek you out. Good luck with your new life in Spain.
The Spanish ex-pat interview above was recorded on the 20th of November 2008. We hope the information about moving to Spain and starting a business in Spain has been of use to you and a special thanks and good luck to Paul and Karen of Cream and Browns.
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