BALLA Florists have been named Irish Wedding Florists of the Year with weddingsonline, which is recognised as the Oscars in the wedding industry, writes Tom Gillespie.
"You can’t get much higher recognition than that," proprietor Judi Roche admitted of the 32-county competition.
Before Christmas a link was sent out with nominations. Said Wexford native Judi: "We have been knocking at the door for this award for about six years. We have won everything else but this one is the one I really wanted.
"We sent in our application and a voting process was set up and five people got into the final. The other four are prestigious florists from Meath, Leitrim, Sligo and Dublin.
"When I saw the line-up I was worried, like would Mayo win the All-Ireland again. I was happy to be in the line-up but when our name was called I was delighted."
Judi said the final process was based on a panel of independent judges and they looked at the business, the website and all the reviews.
"We would have had the highest reviews on weddingsonline with 120. They also looked at our social media pages and the business in general. You are fairly transparent. There is no way of hiding anything.
"One of the finalists would have won it two years ago and another girl won it last year. It was a great win for the west and for Balla.
"We are only a small little shop. When I opened 14 years ago people thought I was mad. But I grew up with the business and I know it inside out."
Balla Florists are no stranger to winning awards. They won two Irish titles in 2017 - Wedding Florist of the Year with The Wedding Journal and The Irish Wedding Awards.
Judi told me: "I was introduced to floristry at the age of three years as my mum had four shops. I prepared my first wedding at eight years old.
"After earning two degrees in mechanical engineering and a BA in English and maths, I decided I had to live my dream of rediscovering my love of floral design.
"I opened my shop in Balla in November 2004, and here I am today doing what I love, floral design and event styling for weddings, private parties and events.
"Throughout my life, I've been a creative person and have enjoyed the beauty that flowers have brought to my life. At a young age, I knew I wanted to be a floral designer. Flowers move and intrigue me. Through flowers, I work to express the personalities and sensibilities of my clients and create the true essence of their needs, either for the passing of a loved one or their wedding day.
"I seek out unique materials that are hard to find, research various blooms tirelessly, to bring only the most exceptional blossoms and most unique vision to the table. I love nature and people and that is what inspires my designs each and every day."
Her flower shop on Main Street, Balla, is adjacent to Kiltimagh, Castlebar and Claremorris, and so they are able to offer a reliable delivery service.
Judy, who is married to local man James Fallon, continued: "We are also only a 10-minute drive from Mayo University Hospital and local nursing homes.
"We provide a comprehensive wedding flowers service including bridal flowers, church flowers, lantern hire, floral/candle table centres and cater for flowers for events and functions both private and corporate. We import all our flowers direct from Holland, so the best flowers and highest quality is always guaranteed. Our extensive floral portfolio contains both traditional and more contemporary designs.
"Also in stock we have a wide range of beautiful gifts, including plants, soft toys, fruit hampers, baby goodies hampers, wine, champagne, chocolates and balloons to compliment that special arrangement.
"Whatever the occasion, our qualified professional staff will create a beautifully crafted arrangement to suit your needs. Once you have made your selection, we can deliver your flowers throughout Mayo and we can deliver flowers to the rest of Ireland and the world via eFlorists (formally Teleflorists).
"Our funeral service is sympathetic to all your needs, providing you with a large range of floral tributes, designs in traditional, modern or a unique style, with guidance and advice from our team we will endeavour to help you in your time of need. Our wedding and function service covers all occasions and needs."
There are three full-time and three or four part-timers working in Balla Florists, as well as a couple of drivers.
Balla Florists can be contacted on (094) 9366858 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, dressyourwedding.ie. The business hours are: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9.30 a.m to 5.30 p.m., Thursday and Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Closed Sunday.
* Do you have a story to tell about your business? If so, contact Tom Gillespie at (087) 9680780 or email@example.com.