My Weekend: Business is 'Blooming' on Douglas Street

Justine Looney from The Cork Flower Studio talks about her work, their plans to become more sustainable and how she likes to spend her down-time
My Weekend: Business is 'Blooming' on Douglas Street
Justine Looney (centre) from The Cork Flower Studio with sister Eavan Cotter, left and to her right Megan Buckley. Pictures: Clare Keogh

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a proud Corkonian, living in Ballyphehane but spending as much time on Douglas Street where the shop is located as I do at home. More sometimes! As do a lot of my family, and not always by choice!

Douglas Street is alive with vibrant businesses and people, so it’s not a bad spot to be.

I’m passionate about the street. I spoke to RedFM’s Red Business Podcast with Jonathan Healy recently about the importance of working in harmony with our natural surroundings and encouraging people to shop and stay local.

We’re lucky with our local media also, they’re always good to support us.

The Cork Flower Studio was founded by my sister Eavan in 2007 and following years of travelling all over, I finally came home in 2010 and joined her. We expanded to our current premises with an Irish Design gallery and a take away coffee bar and we’ve been growing ever since. Douglas Street is at the heart of it all. It’s a vibrant ‘Village in the City’ and we love it here!

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

No two weeks are the same at work so Fridays don’t always mean feet up! I do love to eat out though and we are spoiled in Cork with so many independent restaurants and cafes. Orso and Nove Cento are two fave spots to pop into, with fingers crossed that they have a table!

Lie in or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

Up with the lark! Pre-lockdown I used to start the day with coffee in Cafe Gusto, 45 minutes of ‘me time’ before the madness. I’m looking forward to getting back to that!

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

Work is always on my mind, but I don’t consider it to be WORK work, so it’s not a bad thing! I’m always thinking about what else we can do. We are focussed at the moment on becoming a more sustainable business so I’m always thinking/talking about different ways to expand on that. Between composting, recycling, growing…the girls at work are used to ‘another’ new idea!

Justine Looney from The Cork Flower Studio. Pictures: Clare Keogh
Justine Looney from The Cork Flower Studio. Pictures: Clare Keogh

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

Copenhagen! I came back from a weekend there with a trillion ideas for the shop and the street! It inspired me so much and I would go back in a heartbeat. The public realm there is so people-focussed, bikes and pedestrians rule!

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

When I get a day off midweek, I head to Garretstown with a good book, stopping at Diva Bakery in Ballinspittle on the way for coffee and cake. It might as well be a week off! I love the sea.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Family and friends are scattered all over the country and the world so it’s always a treat to catch up although I hate video calls! I do love spending time with my nieces in Cork who are great fun. We got a cargo bike for deliveries in the shop so now at the weekend, they get to spin around in that!

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I’m a proud Sanctuary Runner! We used to run every Saturday morning at the Ballincollig Park Run so looking forward to getting back to that.

It’s a really social group and we go for coffee and cake afterwards!

I run regularly with my friend/motivator Therese and I do a few classes a week in The Squad (best gym in Cork!).

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

I love both! And my signature dish is nice things from all my favourite places! Rocketman make better hummus than I ever could and Neighbourfood is the best thing that ever happened for busy people so if I’m entertaining I can stock up on the nicest things even if I’m flat out at work.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork - where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

I feel really strongly that independent businesses are crucial for a vibrant city and so I only frequent cafe’s, bars and restaurants that are owned and run by people locally. And are we spoilt for choice in Cork! Cafe Torino, Izz Cafe, Da Mirco’s, Ali’s Kitchen, Good Day Deli, Idaho, Goldie, Coughlans, Iberian Way, Miyazaki…. I could go on!

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Mentally planning for the week ahead and a bit of telly.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

The first one at 7am and then every 10 minutes until I get up! Usually about 7.30.

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