IN the first of a new weekly feature, in which the Gazette will feature local people and local business, we speak to Megan Lee, 20, who was born and bred in Grays – and studied floristry when she left school.

Her passion has led her to Lodge Lane, where she lives, and where she has opened her first store – Lily on the Lane.

The shop opened last week and, as well as selling flowers, it stocks shabby chic accessories and balloons. Megan hopes to venture into furniture in the next few months. She spent four months sprucing up the shop ready for its launch.

Q) What do you love about Thurrock – and why did you start your business here?

A) It’s so close to home. When I go to work, it’s like a home from home, which I just love. I wanted to stay local. I can walk to work, which is great. If it were to snow, I can walk to work and business won’t be affected. It’s practical.

Q) What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business in Thurrock?

A) Go for it! But try to be a bit different, to stand out from the crowd. I was just going to do flowers, but decided to add a few more bits to the shop, which makes it more special.

Q) You’ve only just opened. What has the public reaction been like?

A) A lot of people have come in and said how glad they are to see a shop like this open up. We’re a bit different to what people can get at Lakeside and people don’t always want to travel that far. I’ve taken quite a few orders for Valentine’s Day already, which is great, and I’ve had a lot of interest in weddings.

Q) What’s the plan for the future?

A) I plan to open up more shops around the borough. It’s going to be a family-run business.My sister is about to study floristry and the plan is she will have her own shops too.

If you want your family or business to feature in our new weekly feature, please call our newsroom on 01375 411502