A flourishing success: the founder behind the UK company taking the global flower market by storm

Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, ex-Senior Vice President of Communications at TOM FORD – now, FLOWERBX Founder and CEO – has created a business that is making big waves in her industry since founding the company in 2015.

In October 2021, the luxury direct-to-consumer flower delivery service FLOWERBX announced the closing of an £8M Series A financing round. It has seen revenues double every year since its inception, leading the company to be billed as one of the most promising businesses in the $50 billion global flower market.

The company’s founder has shared her story as part of a special report to mark International Women’s Day from Harper James, a modern law firm purpose-built to support entrepreneurial businesses from start-up to scale-up and beyond.

Female-led start-ups received just 2.3% of VC funding in 2020, according to reports. How can businesses owned by women achieve a stronger and fairer share in the future? 

The answer to this is so simple to me.  Have more women and diverse teams making decisions for VC funds and how they invest their money, as only they will understand and see value in the problems that female entrepreneurs are trying to solve.

As a female entrepreneur, what do you believe the biggest challenges are that you face on a day-to-day basis?

Oh my goodness where to start? I thought starting a company was hard,  but then there was Brexit, then a global pandemic, now it seems to be getting even harder with supply chain challenges, inflation, and recruitment challenges. Basically, being an entrepreneur is just solving a series of problems, every single hour of every single day, forever.

Can you share some tips that might help women accelerate their entrepreneurial growth? 

Surround yourself with entrepreneurial women. Whether that’s as mentors, angel investors, or women just starting out on your journey, no one supports women like other women and this network will be crucial to help propel you forward.

What might the Government do to better support female entrepreneurs?  

43% of highly qualified women leave the workforce when they have babies because of poor maternity policies, expensive childcare and lack of governmental support or incentive to return to work. Unless we find a way to keep highly qualified women in the workforce and promote their career paths the same way we do with men, we will never have parity at the senior management level, let alone on boards and in rooms where decisions are being made.

What advice would you give to a young woman planning to set up her own business?

Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life, and make sure you have a great support network,  both at home and at work, as the highs are high, and the lows are lower than you can imagine.

Is enough being done to support female-led start-ups?

The Harper James report comes in the wake of new figures that show a record proportion of start-ups are now being founded by women. The Government commissioned Rose Review found the growth of new female-led businesses is even outstripping that of male-led companies for the first time. More than 140,000 companies were established by all-women teams last year and the figure is growing by a third each year, with particularly strong growth in female-led start-ups among those aged 16 to 25.

However, despite these positive signs, female founders are still often struggling to raise funds to grow their businesses. According to one report by the Harvard Business Review, which was released last year, only one in five businesses with revenue of £1 million or more is women-owned. The report also found that in 2019, 2.8% of funding went to women-led startups; but in 2020, that fell to 2.3%. Figures for 2021 are yet to be released.

Kate Wright, Head of Client Services at Harper James, said the figures underline how much more needs to be done in this area.

She said: “It’s fantastic to see record numbers of women setting up businesses. But the reality is that many women still face huge challenges in growing their businesses and often struggle to access the kind of support available to male counterparts. More women’s voices should be heard in the business world.

“International Women’s Day is a great moment to celebrate the successes but also to be open about how much we need to do to maximise the huge talent many female entrepreneurs have.”

Read the other stories in this series: