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Escaping the concrete jungle

Claudia Kruppel had a successful career in IT,  but longed for a more rewarding job. With the help of a qualification from TAFE Queensland, she turned her hobby making terrariums into a successful business.

Some people always know what they want to be when they grow up. But for others, the road to their dream career isn't as straightforward.

Claudia Kruppel had a successful corporate career in the IT industry, but after living between her office and her 42nd floor apartment,  she longed to bring some nature back into her life. After she brought a hand-made terrarium into her office, she soon found herself inundated with requests to create more. Thus, her business Plant Presents was born — offering terrariums, succulent arrangements, and plants to the Gympie community. 

"Floristry has always been a dream of mine. I always wanted to study it but the timing was never right. I just decided this is it — this is now my time. I want to do something alive and with flowers and plants, something that makes me happy," Claudia said. 

Claudia was mostly self-taught, but decided to get a formal qualification in floristry to expand her business to also offer flowers and floral arrangements. 

"My shop at the moment is mostly about terrariums, succulent arrangements, and plants, so floristry is the next logical step to grow my business. This will just take it to the next level so I can offer more and be confident that it's made the proper way," she said. 

Claudia is thoroughly enjoying her studies and can't say enough about how well the course is preparing her and her fellow classmates to succeed in the industry.

"Business skills is one of the major things in floristry because other than that, you do it as a hobby. The business side is something that is not the fun part for all of us, but it's so important. It's really a big thing for students to know if they open their own shop, what is behind the scenes," she said.

While some people might have been worried about coming back to study, Claudia has thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"It's different — I come here having already had a career so for me so I really want to be here, and I really want to be here to learn so it's completely different to school — this is great, it's a great learning curve," she said.

While she has no regrets, Claudia admits that after a lifetime of climbing the corporate ladder, running her own small business has taken some getting used to. 

"Working for yourself is a dream for everybody. After working for somebody else for the last 30 years it is a huge difference but it means there are no excuses. You have to be up, you have to perform, you cannot be sick, you have to be out there, and be happy and friendly to your clients even if you don't feel like it," she said. 

And while being her own boss comes with its own set of challenges, she couldn't be happier working in an industry that she's so passionate about.

"I don't have a nine-to-five job anymore. You go home and you order flowers and you try to prepare them for the next day, or the wedding on the weekend. It's continuous work but if you love what you're doing its not really counted as work,"she said. 

"This is the first time I've done something I'm really passionate about and that makes up for all the downfalls — all the early mornings you have to get up, go to the wholesaler, get the flowers done, you work every weekend — but if you study something that beautiful, it's hard to say it's work. I just love doing it." 

From basic floral displays to arranging bridal bouquets - Claudia's story