Born into a family that sells flowers for religious occasions for very little money, Phally Sreyrong, 21, came up with the idea of starting her own business at a very young age after joining Klahan 9’s “Dream Station” programme, aiming to earn a better income and promote local flowers to a larger market.
Coming from Kandal province, Ms Sreyrong, a founder of the Phum Pka shop and a fourth-year student at Royal University of Law and Economics, said she spent an “average” amount on running her first shop, but didn’t have any capital at first. So she found a co-investor to support the project.
“I saw my parents working hard to sell flowers since I was born, but they couldn’t earn much from it. I’m a dreamer, and I want to run a flower business. So to make it work, I asked my aunt to invest with me. If I don’t take risk, I won’t know how bitter or sweet it could have been,” Ms Sreyrong said.
However, she still thinks it takes more than money to run a business. It requires strong commitment and high persistence. So she had to take risks before achieving her dream.
Ms Sreyrong recalled, “I attended ‘Dream Station’. It is really crucial to have specialists or recommendations from those with experience. So ‘Dream Station’ is a huge part of this business.”
Before opening her shop, she went to three provinces to visit flower plantations. She had to ask many people before she found them.
“I went on word of mouth. I had to discover the reality of it,” Ms Sreyrong said.
After some ups and down, Ms Sreyrong eventually opened her own shop, “Phum Pka”, which provides flower arrangements for events as well as bouquets.
“It has been a success, though I still need money to pay my rent. Also, it’s been challenging keeping good flowers in stock. To me, caring for local flowers is much easier than flowers from abroad. Therefore, I always watch YouTube and ask experienced people to gain more knowledge,” Ms Sreyrong said.
After more than 10 years selling flowers and running her own shop, Ms Sreyrong still wonders why Cambodians prefer foreign flowers.
Laughing, she says, “I am not sure about the reason. I guess people might think they look fancy when giving someone a foreign flower as a gift.”
Though most of her customers like it that way, Ms Sreyrong said her own focus is still on local flowers and even mountain flowers.
“Local flowers are cheap, but not many people like them. So I started my business selling both types of flowers first to build up networks. Then I will sell only Khmer flowers if I can, as I want to see people in Cambodia make more for their efforts on flowers,” Ms Sreyrong said.
Though her parents didn’t want her to run business at first, she said they try to support her now because they see her strong commitment and passion. Ms Sreyrong recommends all beginners consult specialists and experienced people before deciding to run a business. She also hopes Cambodians will turn to support Khmer flowers, as they are a part of Khmer culture.
To see her flower arrangements, visit: https://www.facebook.com/phumpka/?ref=br_rs