When Carin-Ann O'Sullivan moved from her native South Africa to Bantry by way of the UK, it was in search of a peaceful life.
"After leaving South Africa, I lived in the UK for twenty years before meeting my husband, Dave. Our daughter suffered a brain injury, and we moved to Bantry with a view to starting a business that facilitated her needs and schooling."
And so, Strelitzia’s Floristry, Irish Craft Shop and B&B was born, named after the South African Bird of Paradise flower, and championing Carin's natural skill as a florist and love of Irish crafts. Flowers are her passion, and she is renowned for her own particular aesthetic.
"We cater to everything, from corporate gifts to funeral and wedding flowers," she explains.
"I am known as the florist who creates that 'wild' look, and that when you buy flowers from me, they last and last.'
Strelitzia’s is home to a craft space which allows local crafters to display their pieces for a minimal sales commission.
"We wanted to create a unique shopping experience. but at the same time help new artists and crafters enter their products into the Irish and international market place," says Carin.
The last six months has posed challenges for the business, of that there is no doubt.
"It has been tough because we changed our business model in September 2019, utilising the entire building, so there was a lot of rent to pay, despite being closed for three months."
Carin spent the month of April designing and building a website for the business, despite having no experience. "We were quoted €10k, so I decided to try it myself!"
In May, strelitzias.ie went live, and within hours, flower orders began rolling in. "We started with chocolate hampers for Father's Day and gradually added to our offering."
Despite the rollercoaster that Covid-19 has brought to the business, Carin O'Sullivan is extremely positive about the business.
"It's hard not to be. There is a great spirit amongst the Irish and a real pull-together attitude and all the other shops in town have pulled together during this time."
One of Strelitzia's best sellers is a tea cosy knitted in the likeness of Michael D Higgins. "I just adore it," says Carin. "They put a smile on anyone's face when they come through the door.
Carin is renowned for her bespoke arrangements, created with each individual client in mind. As well as fresh flowers, she specialises in Nearly Natural artificial flowers.