Flowers are the purest form of love for Rhoda Africa from Africa Flowers. A kind of love that embodied her childhood and inspired her to continue her family’s legacy that started out with selling flowers from buckets to having one of the biggest flower markets in Bloemfontein.
The popular flower market located in Willows, bustles with color and friendly staff who passionately serve patrons who dash in and out while others spend a little more time as they smell the fresh roses before opting for another fresh bunch of flowers that caught their attention.
This family business was built on sacrifices and a passion for flowers. Behind the success, is the 52-year-old Rhoda who had to leave school at the age of thirteen to help her parents sell flowers from just a bucket on the street, making Rhoda the third generation florist in her family.
“In the year 1998, we decided to finally set up the business in Bloemfontein. We then opened a small flower stand in the Middestad and that’s how we built up Africa Flowers. Back then there weren’t really flower shops and we managed to build our name because most clients knew we exist. We took our business even further by moving to Park Road and opening a bigger market. Today we are recognised as one of the biggest flower markets in Bloemfontein,” she said.
Her grandmother Ouma Asie was the inspiration behind opening the flower business. “The flower business has been a source of income and as time developed it became a passion because I was introduced to different kinds of flowers and also getting these flowers required me to climb mountains to go and pick them. So this was challenging, and every day was a challenge – that’s what made it interesting and how the passion started.”
Rhoda recalls how she grew up helping customers get that perfect bouquet and seeing them smile. It created a desire for her to continue making people happy, since “Bloemfontein is the City of Roses, why not host that within ourselves and keep the city of love growing and going,” she added.
It makes it even more fitting that their best-selling products are roses.
Flowers are not just a source of income for Rhoda and her family but also serve as a legacy built out of love and appreciation, something she said is in her genes.
“Flowers are the purest form of love. Its delicate advocacy enhances symbolic emotions. It’s an innocent act of kindness and brings out the truest connections so deep that anyone can be touched by its gesture,” expressed Rhoda.
Even in difficult times, perhaps losing a loved one, Rhoda feels that flowers can still bring a sense of light into a sad atmosphere which shows appreciation towards the loved one lost.
The Cape Town born florist and entrepreneur has been living in Bloemfontein for all her life. She said she loves how the local community stands as one with love and support. With her favourite flowers being a “magnificent bunch of red roses” it would be safe to say that the City of Roses is home.
“I mean roses are red, violets are blue. Bloemfontein is the city of roses and so are its people.”
Speaking on how February is often associated with love and romance, Rhoda highlights that it is also a very busy time for the flower market.
“Our collection of gift hampers and flowers during this time captures the essence of affection, making it a beautiful way to express love and admiration. Each arrangement is carefully crafted to convey heartfelt sentiments, creating memorable moments for those special occasions in the month of love,” she concluded.
Text and photography: GYPSEENIA LION