Florist Jan turns over new leaf
Blue in Shifnal closes its doors after 22 years in business at this Christmas, as internationally renowned artist and Blue founder, Jan Park, approaches her 70th birthday and carves out space to develop her gallery and studio in Jackfield. Blue’s reputation in the region is unsurpassed, growing from a little art gallery in Pattingham to the florist and gift shop it is today.
Blue’s success is largely down to a rather unique combination of Jan’s art training, extensive European travel and commercial sensibility shaped from her building up her own publishing business in the early stage of her career. Travels to Brussels and Amsterdam informed the style and sensibility of Blue’s contemporary, more natural approach to floral design. Jan says, “When I decided to expand the retail business, I wanted to bring the contemporary Dutch/ Belgian style to the high street. As I embarked on my floristry, it was no good staying in the UK for this as teaching here was still very traditional old school style, so I went to flower school in Holland, close to the huge flower market in Aalsmeer.”
Customers have loved the unique style and feel of Blue over the past 22 years, providing enthusiastic testimonials and loyal custom to Jan and her team. There is no doubt that the juxtaposition of Jan’s continued art practice and retail have proved to be a winning combination, so the business will be sorely missed.
Many memories have been created within Blue, and many famous faces have enjoyed Jan’s bouquets, including Elton John, Mary Portas, Alan Sugar, and Hayley Westenra to name a few. Blue’s many awards over the years include Flower Council of Holland, Best Florist in the UK, Best Loved Florist in the UK and Flower Shop of the Year. Jan also appeared in book publications such as A Guide to Retail Success by Roland Gee and ‘The 12 Best Florists in the UK’ – a book by Sally Page which was particularly special as she travelled to country on a quest to find the best and she found Blue
Speaking about her decision to close Blue, Jan says, “I have loved having this business and would have happily continued were it not for my age, I feel it’s right to retire before I’m 70 next year. Being a florist is a wonderful job, but it also comes at a price. I have spent every Mother’s Day at work, Christmas exhausted, even on holiday, flowers still have to be ordered, regular calls to the shop etc. it’s time to slow down a little.”
Jan is not intent on slowing down anytime soon though. You will now find her at her Shropshire art studio in Jackfield, Jan Park Art, where she both paints and sells her work. She is also gaining recognition overseas, having exhibited in Mallorca and Portugal. Jan is also part of the team responsible for Severn Art and is about to begin curating the exhibition programme at a large gallery in Jackfield.