Becoming a florist during the pandemic

Laura Sousa spent eight years as vice-president of enterprise project management at TD. When she started working remotely, she lost her passion for her work, so, last June, she resigned to become a florist. 

“I spent much of my career in executive roles, and in 2013, I joined TD as an associate VP, and five years later, I was promoted to VP of the enterprise project management office. I’d usually be up at 6 a.m., at which point I’d log in to work from my home near Little Italy. Then I’d head into the office at 8:30 a.m. and stay until 6:30 or 7. It was a stressful job, but I loved it. 

“My husband, John, works for a software company, and during the first year of the pandemic, we were both working remotely. I set up my workspace at the dining room table and he set up his office in the basement. I was pulling even longer hours, sometimes up to 14 hours a day. After a few months, I realized I no longer felt the kind of passion for my job that I once did. I missed seeing my team in person, socializing with them, supporting them, and getting support in return.

“One day in the summer of 2020, I went into my local flower shop, Hill’s Florist, at Bloor and Dovercourt. They’ve got tons of greenery, plants and two fridges full of flowers. It’s such a joy to walk in there. I said to the owner, Lisa, ‘I wish I could work here.’ She turned to me and said, ‘Well, why can’t you?’ At the time, I thought, I can’t work here. I’m a vice president at a bank. But she had dropped a germ of an idea, and for the next year, I could think of nothing else. I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking about some big presentation. Then I’d think, I wonder what I’d be doing if I worked in a flower shop. I started following floral designers on YouTube and Instagram and discovered a whole community of flower-lovers on Facebook.

“The more I sat with it, the more I thought, I can do this. My husband supported the idea, and after some brainstorming, we realized we’d be fine on his salary. My kids, aged 23 and 25, were super-excited for me, In the following months, I started bouncing the idea off of some friends. Their reactions were mixed. Some said, ‘There’s no way that’ll satisfy you.’ Others said, ‘If you put your mind to it, you can totally do it.’ Regardless, everyone’s first reaction was, ‘Wow, that would be so cool.’

“I decided to wait until June of 2021 to tender my resignation. I looked up courses at the Canadian Institute of Floral Design. They offer a three-week, in-person, intensive floral design program. Because of Covid, their class sizes were reduced by half, so they were backed up with enrolment. The next class I could register for was in July 2021.

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