The florist with a chronic touch allergy
Sometimes a passion for something becomes so great that nothing can keep you from it. Not even if one day you develop an allergy to your passion. That was the case for the character-filled plant enthusiast, Per Hansen when he was diagnosed with a chronic touch allergy six years into his floral adventure.
Per Hansen is a trained greenhouse gardener and later flower decorator. He has run several flower shops with his wife, Lone, by his side. He bought the first business before he finished his apprenticeship. Fleurie, the business was named. The first six years were easygoing, but one day Per began to develop allergies.
"My hands hurt so much and suddenly the skin started to peel off my fingers. We, therefore, went to the doctor, and the dermatology department in Odense was able to inform me that I had a chronic contact allergy. There was nothing to do and no help to get, so we had to sell the shop”.
Per talks about how difficult it was to accept when you are a florist at heart. His interest in flowers started as a child when he enjoyed the days in the garden with his parents. Not to play football, but to transplant and prune. In the ninth grade, Per got an internship in a flower shop, which subsequently offered him a student place, but he had to refuse it involuntarily.
“My older sister was trained in a men's clothing store, but when she was trained, she couldn't find a job. She cried for three months. That's why my parents didn't think I should learn in a shop. It was just to train to become unemployed, they said. One day I got into a conversation with our neighbour, who was an accountant at a greenhouse gardener - a rose nursery in Fredericia - and then I got an apprenticeship there".
After Per developed allergies, the easiest thing to do would be to change career paths, but for Per, it wasn't just his job that had been taken away from him. It was his life. Therefore, he began to think of other ways in which he could still keep a foot in the business.
"I got a big driver's license so I could drive around with a bigger can and sell flowers to shops. That way I was still in the profession. Later I became a freelancer, where I helped flower shops to optimise the interior design in the shops. It just wasn't quite the same. It did not make me happy in the same way as being the one who ties the bouquets”.
Fortunately for Per, he had his wife, Lone, by his side. As a strong-willed woman who had no intention of giving up on her flower dream either.
"One day we were in a flower shop in Southern Jutland. When we get home, my wife tells us that the store is for sale and she is determined that we buy it. We probably should never have done that for several reasons, but the truth is that it got our flower adventure going again. In the meantime, my wife had found these nitrile gloves that I wear - and with them, I could work with flowers again. It took some getting used to, but today I can work even better with flower arranging and decorations than I could before, without the gloves”.
We will never sell ourselves for flowers
During our conversation, it dawns on Per that his life has taken a new turn every six years. He finished his education after six years - and he also had his last two flower shops for six years each. He has had his current business, By Hansen, for two and a half years, but this time Per hopes that it will be more than six years. It would like to be the terminus.
"I hope that this is our last stop, but of course, it depends on the development. There is a small crisis in the market right now, but it is not something that we feel. When you are a specialty store, and if you follow your heart, then you should not panic and sell your things cheap. At least we don't. If the industry no longer allows us to do business the way we want, I don't care anymore".
When you meet Per Hansen, you have no doubt that he is proud of his profession. The way he talks about flowers; working with flowers. You can feel the pride from a long way off. Per takes pride in his professionalism, and he also expects a high level of professionalism from others. "The customers must be able to count on things being done properly", says Per, while he is working on one of today's customer orders.
"You become a skilled florist by taking the training, learning the theory, and understanding what you are doing. A large part of the work is understanding the different proportions in relation to the golden ratio. We often find that customers come in with a 30 cm tall vase, and then they also want a 30 cm tall bouquet, but it doesn't work. The bouquet must be either smaller or even taller. It is the same with shapes and colours. You will have to understand how the different proportions work together”.
We talk a bit about fashion, trends, and trends in flowers and plants.
Something that Per has strong feelings about. "People are more aware today. There are very few people who do not have an opinion about their home and how they live - and many also have an opinion about flowers and plants. Trends come and go. Now we have just had a period where dried flowers were the big thing, and we will probably see more silk flowers in the next few years. I can live with that too, but then there are trends, which we see with these coloured flowers. I'll never get to that. My flower heart is too proud to spray paint fresh flowers. It is unnatural. If you paint something that is already dead, that's fine, but when if you paint something that's still alive, blooming and standing fine; it doesn't belong anywhere, in my opinion”.
The natural habitat
As a florist and decorator, it comes as no great surprise that Per Hansen finds inspiration in nature. It is not the colourful fields of flowers that he is most fascinated by; it is the green, mossy, and completely natural forest landscape.
"When you don't find me down here in the shop, you'll find me in the forest. I like looking out at the water, but I think it's more fun to get into a forest and just look up. The way the sun comes in between the trees is so life-affirming. When our children were smaller, I always had scissors with me in the woods. They ran around cutting things for me and then I tied as we went. It was crazy fun to tie such a huge bouquet with everything you just find. It's such a beautiful thing".
It is also the wild nature that attracts him when we ask what his dream destination is:
“I have never tried it, but I would like to experience the middle part of the rainforest. That's where all the subtropical living is. Many of the plants and flowers that surround us, we are not at all aware of where they come from, what they really are, and what they can do. The orchid is a good example. It's something we came up with by putting it in a pot. Normally it just grows in the corners of the branches in the rainforest, hangs in the treetop, where it is stuck with its aerial roots”.