When Sarah Regan joined the corporate world of advertising, life was great.
She met creative, innovative people, worked on cool campaigns and felt rewarded for her work.
But then something changed.
It wasn’t a lightbulb moment, more of a slow build, but she wasn't as happy as she once was, and after watching colleagues leave and discover new opportunities she knew that her life needed to be different.
“I think you start to ask yourself some bigger questions in your 30s,” she told The Huffington Post Australia.
“I started questioning myself to say, ‘Is this it?’.
“I had that sense that there had to be more and I wanted to do something a bit bigger, or more significant or that felt more in tune with me and who I was.”
The answer was, surprisingly, small bouquets of flowers.
Regan, 38, noticed how happy people in her office were when they received a delivery of flowers -- but also noticed how big the price tag was to send them.
She and her boyfriend Chris Berents and two colleagues -- Benjamin Sampson and John Kane -- started to workshop an idea: what if you could send single bouquets of gorgeous blossoms to anyone in Sydney for a standard low price point of $30? And so Little Flowers was born.
The four spent nine months developing a small business plan, nutting out logistics of purchasing and arranging the flowers, delivery zones and methods, online ordering, marketing and finances.
Regan said while it was an exciting time, it was also an incredibly daunting prospect to leave the security of a full-time job.
“It was petrifying, and I think that’s why it took me so long to do it,” she said.
“A lot of my friends followed a certain path and a path I expected myself to take which is getting a job and progressing in it but I wasn’t expecting myself to go off and start my own business really, as much as I had fantasised about it a little bit.
“It was definitely scary - there are so many unknowns.”
Regan said one of the biggest hurdles to overcome was the fear of not making any money -- that was the most important thing her job offered her.
“When I was in that phase of questioning myself about what I wanted to do and I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be in my job, I looked pretty clinically at every aspect of my life and I felt like work was compromising quite a lot of it,” she said.
“Financially was the one box it was ticking, but it wasn’t enough.
“When I looked at it clearly I thought it was actually more frightening staying in it than leaving.”
Regan made the leap into the small business world in 2013 at age 35 and started making the bouquets in her garage -- and then in her living room and her kitchen.
Little Flowers grew very quickly and it is now run from a studio space in the inner city suburb of St Peters and employs 10 people.
“It does feel like a bit of a dream and a fairytale in a way because at the beginning you hope and you dream of what it might be like and so far it is ticking all of the boxes so I hope it continues,” she said.
Although Regan had never worked as a florist, she was undeterred by her lack of industry experience.
In fact she said having a different perspective was a very positive thing, and she has used her corporate experience to her advantage - perhaps one of the more genius marketing initiatives was “flower bombing” commuters at Sydney CBD bus stops.
“My communications skills and advertising and marketing has really helped me to start this business but I think all of the jobs that I have had have been really good for helping me get to where I am now,” she explained.
“I learnt a very good work ethic in the corporate world, I developed a sense of professionalism and doing things properly and I worked with lots of really good talented people and I think that pushes me to be the best that I can.
“But even non-corporate jobs have been valuable -- I have been a carer and a barmaid and a photocopier along the way and they teach you really important things too like compassion, attention to detail and relationships with people.”
In order to allay her own fears of leaving the security of her job, Regan told herself she was just taking a year out to try something new and different, and she could always go back to advertising.
But now Little Flowers is doing so well, Regan says she has completely switched her perspective.
“I loved advertising in so many ways and met so many good people and learnt an awful lot and had that regularity of pay,” she said.
“But my initial reaction to ‘would I ever go back’ is ‘no not at all’!”
“I still think of it fondly in many ways, but I kind of hope I don’t have to go back and Little Flowers keeps going from strength to strength.”