A FLORIST has turned her passion for blooms into a business catering for a growing market for artificial flowers aimed at people who want longer-lasting bouquets for their homes.

Charlene Corrie, from Darlington, launched her business CeCeBlooms, using her creative skills to the growing market for artificial flower arrangements, thanks to help from TEDCO Business Support and the New Enterprise Allowance programme.

The 35-year-old said: "CeCeBlooms was really borne out of my passion and love for floristry but also my wish to do something a little bit different. Fans of the film Beaches will certainly recognise the inspiration for my business name and I really wanted to bring some of the flair and showmanship of the CeCe Bloom character to my final designs for customers.”

Selling individual stems, bouquets, garlands, wreaths and centrepieces, CeCeBlooms is focused on private customers and event planners looking for cost-effective but striking displays to bring a décor scheme to life

Ms Corrie was first introduced to floristry after deciding on a career change after becoming a mum.

Looking for more flexibility from her job, she moved from a hospital receptionist role to undertaking training at college to become a level 2 qualified florist, which inspired her to undertake more design work and led to private work creating floral arrangements before deciding to move into artificial flowers.

She said: “I work around my children and fresh flowers have such a short window in which they need to be used and they can be messy to use in a home environment.

"As the quality of artificial flowers grew over the past few years, I started to use them more and more to create the arrangements I wanted without the obvious limits on time.

“Artificial flowers last forever so the arrangements you choose naturally become a long-lasting part of your interior décor. As demand from friends and family to create bespoke arrangements increased, I started to look into opportunities around setting up as a business and turned to Judith Wheatley at TEDCO Business Support for advice.”

She helped her access an £8,000 low-cost business loan and helped her to refine her business plan.

Ms Wheatley, a business advisor with TEDCO, said: "Charlene has such talent and skill in floral design and her passion has been translated into a wonderful new business.

"CeCeBlooms has a fantastic array of stock already available and with her ideas for new revenue streams and contacts, I can see this business really flourishing in 2020. It has been a pleasure to support Charlene on her new business journey and I look forward to acting as a continued touchpoint for any questions or help she requires in the future.”