A rose by any other name

flowers for any occasion

I have been asked many times about the name of my business and why I chose Floral Creations. The reason I chose Floral is because it relates to all flowers, Creations because I love to use flowers to create and make bespoke, unique and personal designs depending on the occasion. The St Austell part was added when I joined the British Floristry Association (BFA).

Whether the designs are for weddings, funerals, birthdays, or a simple ‘Thank You’ token, I create floral arrangements to suit the personality of the customer and because everybody sees styles, colours and fashions slightly differently, I always prefer to have a face to face consultation.

I need to know what my customers mean by ‘shabby chic’ or ‘distressed’. There’s a fine line between a ‘rustic’ style and materials which are ‘naturally rough’. Will the event be ‘classic’, ‘vintage’, ‘on trend’, modern, or ‘contemporary’? I am passionate about both flowers and designs and understanding what the customer is looking for is the first step to a happy result.

For this reason, I do not offer packages but work towards making a bespoke design to suit the customer through a consultation. Of course, this isn’t possible with 100% of customers, but we can always communicate through email, Skype or ‘face time’.

Most brides to be (b2b) love to use Pinterest to gather their ideas together, Googling themes, pinning pretty pictures and collecting the colours they love. If a bride has a Pinterest page, it’s a great starting point – I use it myself – but my experience tells me I have to add a tiny note of caution here: Pinterest definitely reflects a rose-tinted universe! Some of the best bridal pins are unusual, and unusual can mean ‘hard to get hold of’ and, like any rare commodity, this can mean expensive, especially as I work with premium flowers to ensure freshness and quality. But on your special day, you wouldn’t want it any other way.

So my advice to all b2b’s out there, to avoid disappointment with Pinterest ideas, is this: let’s take your pins and clippings as a starting point, your budget as a guideline, and work together during the consultation to make a the foundations of a lovely event take shape.

There are always beautiful flowers to suit every budget – it’s one of the joys of my job knowing how to find lots of alternatives and ‘pin’ them together in artful ways. This is exactly how my experience and expertise filters through in making bespoke and unique designs.

P.s. Back in May I was part of team in a photo shoot where I made bespoke shoes, and bracelets. Sending a big thank you to Enchanted Brides for all their hard work after the shoot. An article has just been released and published in Rock My Wedding magazine.

Sleepless summer nights

ehdgWhen important events happen as they should, the guests turn up at the allotted time, events proceed with due ceremony, and everyone from principal players to minor cast, enjoys the lovely food, admires the flowers, joins in with socialising, and feels a part of the occasion.

For those of us in the events industry however, as you can imagine, much more nailbiting and drama goes on behind the scenes and this month, the general bugbear for florists and floral designers across the land has been the problems at the Channel Tunnel.

In my business, it is important to offer variety and choice, and although I source many of my flowers with local growers, some customers want special orders out of season. Similarly, I offer sustainable materials, but feel it is also part of my work to be able to include elements grown outside the U.K. In short, I also rely on imports from Holland, Belgium and France.

So, with a big wedding coming up, and all the reports on the news, you can imagine how many sleepless nights I’ve had worrying about large orders not arriving in time, bespoke blooms sitting spoiling in a lorry refrigerator, trapped on the hard shoulder, and what a headache and organisational hassle finding a last minute alternative can be. For brides, the colours, the varieties, all the details, of their floral choices have been much discussed and carefully planned. 

Fortunately, I have my ways and means, and my plan B’s. In spite of the Channel Tunnel problems everything has worked out fine (so far!) this summer. And I was lucky in the timing of one wedding in particular during the worst of the disruption. Kyle and Hazel’s nuptials in mid-July were based on a country ‘picked from the hedgerow’ theme. Phew! Depending as it did on a choice of local varieties, that was one event which helped me get a few good night’s sleeps that week!

 

 

 

 

Flora & Fauna

 

bouq2April, and May so far, have been a whirl of wedding-related activities.

First of all, there was some essential networking to be done at a recent Designer Flora Meetup in Gloucester. Most florists work as part of, or run, small businesses, and many of us work alone, so it becomes even more important to make the effort to catch up with other professionals, swap stories, good and bad, exchange tips and share some of the ‘tricks’ of the trade.

Photography isn’t a ‘trick’ as such, but often we floral designers are so used to seeing our flowers centre stage, when it comes to taking photographs, it’s easy to forget that the composition and the background around the flowers can detract from the star of the show if you don’t consider them – and ruin the effect of the work. The photography workshop at the Meetup was great for encouraging us to practice the art of snapping our work to best effect – essential in these days of instant social media marketing.

Alongside networking, are the all important floristry workshops. I’m a firm believer in keeping my skills up to date, learning new techniques and trying fresh twists on familiar styles. For example, a recent workshop with Laura Leong at Kingston Maurward College was a great introduction on how judges mark floral work in competitions, and provided an insight into key aspects of design we should be attending to whether working on a competition entry or not. Laura is an “award-winning florist, teacher and demonstrator with many years’ experience as a retail florist and teacher. A background in fine art means that interests in contemporary design and crafting techniques are at the forefront of her design work”, so it was fascinating to see her in action. This was followed shortly after by a workshop with Francoise Weeks, skilled in woodland designs and an expert in ‘botancial couture‘ where we learned all about shoes and wedding clutches made from foliage, petals and gilded leaves.

Another part of my regular work is to meet brides, often at their chosen venue, to plan the final details of the floral arrangements for their big day. I get to drive all over Cornwall to visit some beautiful venues, fine hotels, and charming old churches. I love it. I don’t get to go to the wedding, of course, but it’s particularly special for me to imagine my creations in the exact spot where they will be immortalised in the wedding photographs, and usually I do get to see those.

Which brings me to the photo-shoot. As every bride knows, wedding magazines are a rich source of ideas in the planning stage, and as a florist, or floral designer, it is a real coup to get your work showcased in print in this way. I’m lucky enough to have been involved in a few wedding shoots specifically for the wedding magazine market now, and I have to say, it is as glamorous as it looks.

Typically, there is a hair and make-up artist, a lovely young model, maybe bridesmaids, and a florist (in this case, yours truly) on hand, the all team set to transform the bride-to-be into Princess for a Day.

You can see some of the results over on my Weddings Gallery, here, and on the Wed Magazine online edition, here.

You can see, when you have the services of a professional wedding photographer on hand, like Lisa from Kernow Dream Photography, in charge of the shoot that day, the composition, background, and details, are all taken into account. The flowers play a part, but there’s no doubt who is the real star of the show.

Tools of the trade

Artisans, makers and creators, from jewellers to book-binders, quilters to professional cake bakers, generally tend to have favourite tools of the trade. Florists are no different.

Such tools are designed and made to be perfect for the job, chosen because they look right, feel right, and work right on a practical level, but the ones which become special are highly personal items which mean something to the person using them, and friends, colleagues, or curious passersby meddle with them at their peril.

It’s hardly surprising that we’re protective of our favourite tools – we use them on a daily basis. They reassure us in our regular tasks and make the working day go smoothly. They are so much part of us, that sometimes we don’t even think about them, take them for granted (unless they go missing!) like an old familiar extra limb. But at other times, you’ll take a special tool in your hand and it will remind you of where you got it, or why, or who gave it to you, and a trip down memory lane will add some inspiration to the day ahead.

my favourite floristry tools

Here are some of my favourite tools: the yellow cutters with the blue ribbon are particularly good for different thicknesses of wire and I use these all the time on an average day.

Next to them are the pink snips – nifty and sharp – for foliage material. The second yellow cutters have a strong spring and make the most of a small grip – they’re good for thick stemmed foliage.

The yellow stapler is perfect for fixing tricky poly-ribbon edging to sympathy designs.

My black scissors do look ordinary, which is fine, because they are, they’re just for general cutting, but I do a lot of that, and these scissors don’t give me blisters!

The orange scissors with the cerise ribbon are favourites because they can multi-task and will cut most plant material and also wires (they have special grooves for this job).

If I have a particularly juicy plant to cut, I tend to use those yellow scissors with the red cable tie because the blades are stainless.

That long black-handled knife I’ve had from my first full-time job – I just like having it around – and now I use it to cut floral foam.

The insulation material I need to use when making some designs is tougher than foam, so that calls for my favourite serrated knife, the one with the orange handle.

When watching master florist Per Benjamin at an event recently, he said that he uses a new knife every week as his blade becomes blunt. I change mine every few months or so mainly because I do not do the volume of work that Per does!

It’s easy to see why the tools of my trade need to be brightly coloured: I love colour, I’m a florist! But colour means I can spot tools easily and grab them when my other hand is ‘tied-up’ holding bits and pieces together. Also, I don’t want to lose expensive tools in among the greenery, or accidentally stab myself. But why, you might wonder, do I add ribbon, cable ties and a wrist band to my tools? Because when working in a shop you know they’re yours. It’s a personal touch.

For example, that short yellow-handled knife I use for cutting most of my plant material has a handmade wrist band from Peru attached to it. I bought this band to support a cause I feel strongly about, to help raise funds for a charity campaigning to stop child abuse.

So, my favourite tools are there at the start of the day, and also part of my ‘clocking off’ routine. When the designs are done, the tools need cleaning. This is important to preserve their sharpness for practical (and the dreaded Health and Safety) reasons. But the ritual also rounds off the working day nicely and experience tells me looking after treasured things helps keep them around for longer.