Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year. Thank you to my customers, and to my friends and family for all your support through 2014.

Happy 2015!

Last year was an exciting and hair-raising mixture, as I let go of the security of being part of a large organisation as an employee and set off to be my own boss, start my own business, and pursue the dream of working at something I love – floristry.

This time last year, I was studying for the next stage of my professional qualifications and doing some background research to see if there was a gap in the market and an opening locally for a contemporary approach to floristry, with a complete personalised service. I decided there was. So, by February, I’d chosen my company name, worked out my logo and my brand colours, and was ready to launch my new business, Floral Creations St Austell. Business cards, flyers and exhibition banners followed, and in March I commissioned this website so potential customers could see a range of my work and find me.

The next step was… to jump… head first. I started my professional Facebook page, began posting pictures of my work and getting ‘Likes’ and… booked my first Wedding Fayre.

After that it’s all a bit of a blur! Setting up my workshop was [cough] hard work, but it was fantastic when it was all done, tools and equipment sorted, just the way I like it, a place for everything and everything in its place! I was busy networking, and through various meetings and events, established a fantastic relationship with Frocks & Frills Wedding Studio in Falmouth as one of their trusted suppliers, and became part of The Wedding Alliance Cornwall (they put on ‘roving’ Bridal Fayres and events in the county to appeal to every kind of bride). I also attended several specialist workshops to top up my skills – one of my highlights from this year was an amazing two day workshop with Bridal Master Florist Wally Klett as well as learning the hard way fulfilling tricky orders to deadline. So many new skills and knowledge – it’s been a great year.

And now it’s 2015! it’s been a busy start to the month, replying to bride’s email inquiries, buying and conditioning my flowers to order, and just last week it was me this time, up on the podium at the demonstration table, leading a floristry workshop for a group of students at Cornwall College. It was lovely to be able to provide an introduction to aspects of my job and send them each away with a floral creation, as part of their Industry Week at Cornwall College. Who knows? – one of them might become an apprentice with Floral Creations St Austell in years to come.

Meanwhile, any bride-to-be looking to chat over ideas for a 2015/16 wedding, I’d be delighted to meet you at the Bridal Extravaganza at The Atlantic Hotel, Newquay, 11am – 3pm on January 18th. The Atlantic is a great venue, the event is free (courtesy of The Wedding Alliance Cornwall), I will be exhibiting a lovely selection of bridal flowers, and happy to hear all about your Big Day.

All under one roof

silkflowers

When I got married *+!~# [cough] years ago, weddings were done differently than the way they are today.

Planning was involved, of course, but the variety of wedding-related products and services available to your average bride and groom were far fewer than nowadays. Most likely, you married locally, or near the home of your husband or wife to be. Your wedding venue was a church or registry office; at that time, registrars were not licensed to marry couples at hotels, castles, stately homes, beaches, or moors! You chose your colours, but the rest was maybe more straightforward than it can be today; then, your flowers and your cake were probably made by someone local who came recommended by a relative or friend. There was less spectacle, perhaps, but things were simpler. These days, I sometimes think, when I chat to about-to-be-married folk at wedding fayres and other floristry events I attend, that there are almost too many options.

Anyway, times change, and thankfully, the wedding industry has changed as well. More services are available online, and for those personal elements which call out to be touched, or tasted, or tried on, a Wedding Emporium is a popular option by gathering everything you need under one roof. This helps save on all the searching and driving around (and expense). Who could resist the chance to be a bit pampered by all that experience and expertise in one place? It’s almost guaranteed to make the planning and shopping not only easy and convenient, but fun. This is one improvement I wish had been around in my day…

Now no longer a blushing bride, but a freelance florist, you can imagine how delighted I was to be invited to join in with such a venture to become the florist in residence at Frocks & Frills Wedding Studio near Falmouth. It’s great not only to be able to show what I can offer, and have my flowers form part of someone’s Big Day, but to meet some of the other suppliers and see each whole event come together in a co-ordinated way.

Frocks and Frills offer a fantastic service, a full range of artisan, freelance, and bespoke services, from one lovely location, Mill House, Trewardreva Mill, Constantine.  As their website says,

Choose your dress and accessories, bridesmaids dresses, mother of the bride outfits; try a classic wedding car for comfort and size; select your favours and flowers or candy buffet; view products and information from cake makers, photographers, chair covers & sashes, venues, outside caterers, handmade silver jewellery and stationery – all under one roof. 

I’d advise anyone planning their wedding in the county to save themselves some stress and go along and have a look – it really is something special – there’s a glittering array of bridal products and services, including, for wedding flowers, yours truly…

At Floral Creations St Austell we offer a complete and personalised service with fresh flowers to order, all colours of the rainbow, all year round, so to give customers a starting point to chat through ideas and arrive at choices, I’ve made a sample range of bouquets and wedding arrangements from silk flowers. You’ll find them on my stand at Frocks and Frills, they look just like the real thing, beautiful, realistic colours, soft to the touch (See the picture at the top of this page). Silk bouquets are also available to order if you would like to keep your bridal flowers (one ‘vintage’ idea that’s come back in fashion!) as a memento of your day.

So, here’s to a new business arrangement. I’m really looking forward to working with the Frocks and Frills team at Mill House – we hope to see you there.

(There’s a tale to how I came by these silk flowers. Have a look over on my Facebook page for the whole story 🙂 )

Networking

klettBuilding a small business in the current climate requires a lot of leg work.

When I’m filling orders I spend hours on my feet, conditioning, clipping, cutting and arranging my flowers, which stands to reason, as this is a job done on the move.

A less obvious part of working as a florist are the associated activities, attending courses and networking, both equally important. Courses keep skills in tip-top condition and refresh creative styles with the latest trends. Networking helps make important contacts and puts the business in front of future potential customers.

Just lately, I’ve been putting in the leg work on both these aspects of my business plan.

German master florist Wally Klett is renowned for her wedding work, and as Wedding flowers are a personal passion of mine, I decided to build on those strengths and attended one of her workshops on one of her rare visits to the UK recently. It was a privilege to watch such a skilled craftswoman at work and to have the opportunity to learn from her techniques. (I’d post both pictures of the arrangements I created over the course, except one of them met with a squashing accident in my overloaded car on the journey home from the Sid Valley Hotel in Sidmouth!).

As well as learning new skills, one unexpected new side benefit to attending such  courses (as well as overcoming the challenge of staying in such gorgeous and swish hotel settings 😉 ) is the opportunity to meet fellow florists. There were some lovely ladies at the Wally Klett workshop from all over the country, some from established businesses, some just starting out – we had a great time together, exchanged cards and social media connections, and I hope we’ll keep in touch.

On the subject of networking, as well as sharing tips and support with other professionals from the industry, local contacts are also vital, so with this in mind I contacted my local Chamber of Commerce. I wanted to find out more about what they can offer a small business in terms of services and promotional options in reaching new customers.  The meeting was very friendly and relaxed and proved really useful in helping to establish some new business contacts in the area. I’m planning on going again, more of which, no doubt, later.

Busy times for the business

It’s been a hectic fortnight, building up to to some key events in the life of my new business enterprise, but it’s all been worth it. 

The Floral Creations St Austell website is launched, I’ve already had some brilliant feedback on my arrangements, and I’ve met some of my first official customers. 

weddingbouquet

Last weekend was the Cornish Brides show at Kingsley Village, on the outskirts of Fraddon. Brides-to-be from all over the county would be coming to get ideas for their big day, and I’d decided this would coincide with the official launch of my freelance floral business. One of my specialities is, of course, wedding bouquets and bridal flowers. We cater for every stage of the event from bridesmaid’s posies, to large bridal arrangements for the wedding venue and reception, traditional themed events and eco or green weddings.   

There was a lot to organise in advance of the event. The stand was booked, leaflets printed, badges done, but the flowers were the most important part. All week my store-room was full of beautiful fresh blooms, the rafters ringing with the sound of clipping and cutting (and Radio 2) as we prepared and made a variety of arrangements to show-case some of the types of flowers and designs suitable for weddings, as the day approached. I love the challenge of building up to a big event, and I think the looming deadline and working under pressure brings out my creativity (although I admit one evening I nearly forgot to feed the dogs!).

Anyway, it all went  really well. We (my floral assistant and I) took along some additional flowers to create some of the smaller arrangements actually at the event. We drew quite a crowd for the demonstrations, which gave me a good chance to chat with the brides-to-be, talk about flowers, and swap details. It was a great day. 

wedding bouquet

Of course, the floral arrangements on view weren’t for sale, so after the event, I donated several to a corporate event being held at Kingsley Village the next day to decorate the tables, and some to Cloisters Restaurant at St Austell College for the Students Awards evening

 

Kingsley Village Bridal Fair

call Karen on : 07450793657Win £50 of flowers for your Wedding! 

Come and visit my stand at the Cornish Brides Magazine Wedding Fair at Kingsley Village on 11th May 2014.

Date: May 11th 2014, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

There’ll be over 70 exhibitors with some of the best bridal businesses in the county, plenty of parking and lots to see.

Whether your wedding is a way ahead and you’re at the window-shopping stage, or closer to the altar (how that time flies!) and looking to get ideas for planning your big day, or even closer…  and seriously now shopping for quotes, I’d love to speak to you about bridal flowers.

You could win flowers worth £50 for your Wedding 

Come along to the Floral Creations St Austell stand and find out more

 

Launching the business

launching the business

This picture was taken at The Glove Factory, Wiltshire, at a meeting to put together some ideas for my new website. I took along this new arrangement made from fresh spring blooms, to show some of my favourite colours and textures as ideas for the site.

The sculpture just happened to be in the garden and made a perfect setting for the flowers, granite and iron contrasting with the soft floral forms.