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Flair Care Deliver


Q&A with Gary Wallis, CEO of famous and fashionforward Jane Packer Flowers

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Four industry influencers on whether we should be buying more British-grown blooms


Products to make business bloom – from designer bowls to beethemed bombs and special stems



Seasoned exper ts provide tips and tricks on tackling peak periods

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It is our relationships that help us grow. Something we pride ourselves on with both our customers and suppliers.

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MEET THE TEAM Hannah Dunne Editor Perri Turner Account Manager Tina Savelle Sales Manager Jim & Lisa Wilkinson Directors Emily Maltby Circulation & Data

hank you so much for all of your feedback following our first issue, we’re totally humbled by so many messages of support. Once again, we’re immensely grateful to everyone who has contributed to this issue and taken the time to write in, and we’re thrilled so many of you think there’s a place for our magazine on your workbench. Nowadays it’s pretty cool to be a florist. Favoured by Instagrammers, art students and start-ups with big marketing budgets, people often say it looks so glamorous from the outside (see #FloristProblems on page 50 for a glimpse at the inside). But back in the Eighties, Jane Packer was pioneering fashionable flowers for the very first time, becoming an inspiration for swathes of florists who followed in her footsteps. In this edition we interview Gary Wallis, Jane’s husband and CEO of Jane Packer Flowers, whose approach to business left us completely inspired. Both he and Jane were driven by curiosity, and it’s this passion for forging new paths that has helped the Jane Packer brand gain its iconic status and continue to blossom, six years after Jane passed away. This month we’ve put a spotlight on flower origin, with opinion columns from four influential women, news from flower producers in Kenya and Uganda, and some spectacular varieties in this month’s season setlist – I’m in love with those golden Ecuadorian Combo roses. We’re also excited to announce the launch of a huge, high-profile campaign which is set to put Colombian-grown flowers back on the map in a bold way. This month’s unsung hero fits the bill perfectly: we speak to Simon Cromey of import business All Seasons Flowers as he celebrates his company’s 20th anniversary. We also look ahead to the big three peaks of the year: many of you specialising in gift work will soon be facing the toughest but most profitable period, so we’ve sourced advice on making systems run smoother and avoiding all-nighters. As the festive season edges closer, we also share tips on running workshops, and look to upcoming trends – from Christmas chic to the weird and wonderful. Enjoy our October issue and keep all that feedback coming, we want to hear it – good, bad, or ugly!

Hannah Dunne Editor

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CONTENTS EDITORIAL Editor – Hannah Dunne ADVERTISING Business Development Manager – Jamie Wilkinson Account Manager – Perri Turner Sales Manager – Tina Savelle PRODUCTION Production Manager – Susie Duff


Production Editor – Charlie Cook


Subeditor – Kate Bennett Design: Mark Hudson CIRCULATION AND DATA Emily Maltby MANAGEMENT Managing Director – Jim Wilkinson Editorial Director – Lisa Wilkinson


18 Eljays44 Ltd

3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 2DA Tel: 01903 777 570 Published by ©Eljays44 Ltd – Connecting Horticulture Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, Gwent, UK The 2017 subscription price for Florist Business is £95. Subscription records are maintained at Eljays44 Ltd, 3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 3DA, UK. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of Eljays44 Ltd and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publishers. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for loss of, or damage to, uncommissioned photographs or manuscripts. Whilst every effort has been made to maintain the integrity of our advertisers, we accept no responsibility for any problem, complaints, or subsequent litigation arising from readers’ responses to advertisements in the magazine. We also wish to emphasise that views expressed by editorial contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly forbidden.



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Your fantastic comments on our launch issue


Our monthly roundup of industry news keeps you informed




Amy Curtis Floristry and Eden Blooms share their favourite work





Say hello to houseplants and welcome the weird and wonderful

Stay in the loop with the latest updates from the BFA

A rundown of upcoming dates for your diary






Top tips from Judith Blacklock’s new book on vase arrangements


Colombian flowers are making a splash in the marketplace 19/09/2017 09:27




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Should we strive to only buy British flowers?




SEASON SETLIST A selection of the standout stems you need this month

Sage advice to help you get through the peak season

Turning a profit from Christmas, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day



Bee-friendly pieces to add into arrangements, plus the best bowls Contents.indd 5



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MOBILE APPS Six handy apps that every florist should know



We profile the young talent and unsung heroes that keep our industry going



Why workshops are a great way to diversify your business


LITTLE INTERVIEWS Quick-fire questions to the people who make up our industry



We speak to Gary Wallis, CEO of Jane Packer Flowers


#FLORISTPROBLEMS Letting off some steam about those little niggles that every florist faces



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19/09/2017 14:01


HOW DID WE D O? The very first issue of Florist Business landed last month and we’re so grateful for all of your fantastic feedback. Here’s what you had to say…

@youngblooms Love the new magazine! Paula Rooney (via Facebook) I got one in the post and I love it! @Hollyhocksflorist Brilliant – just subscribed hopefully get the mag soon – heard amazing things @thewildfoxuk Such a brilliant magazine. So refreshing and current! Lesley Nash (via Facebook) Mine arrived this morning. The girls were so excited they opened it before I arrived and had a shopping list ready and waiting for me.

© Chloe Milligan, Mud Urban Flowers © Hannah Burnett Florist

@mudurbanflowers Hey it’s us! Thank you @floristbusiness (the new and really amazing magazine for florists)

@leafycouture It’s smart, interesting and informative. Exciting times!

@blumelifestyle This great read arrived today, thank you. #floristproblems made me chuckle

@martinandthemagpie Love it! It’s refreshing, current and funky!

@mrs_flowerworks Fab inspiring read, just enjoyed it with prosecco & spring rolls after a flat out day at work! Just what I needed

@stockflorist Just what we need. Forward thinking, creative editorial, informative reading and perfectly packaged.

@edenblooms It’s a brilliant publication! It’s a breath of fresh air in the industry and just what we need!

@Becks.Flowers Reading the new Florist Business magazine with lunch, and having a giggle – I can relate to most of these, and a whole long list of other #floristproblems!

@mad_lilies Such a fab read and so refreshing, up to date and current - wishing you guys huge success

@Hannah_florist It’s a really fab mag! Love it, well done!

@myrtleandsmith Landed on the mat earlier and it’s great. Really love the layout. Feedback.indd 7

We love hearing your thoughts and ideas, so keep them coming! Write to us at, or find us on Twitter and Instagram @FloristBusiness, and on Facebook @FloristBusinessMag



19/09/2017 09:31


NEWS All the latest from around the flower industry



uffolk sundries wholesaler W&M Smith is holding a craft fayre with a Christmas twist on 14-15 October, from 10am-4pm each day. On Sunday October 15, top florist Morgan Nuth will run a Christmas themed floristry demonstration sponsored by OASIS Floral Products. Both days of the event will see craft and trade stalls, a trick or treat lucky dip, face painting, a photo booth, a best carved pumpkin competition and refreshments. Entry is free but please book in advance for a stall or to attend the demonstration by emailing Event address: The Pightle Barn, Blacksmiths Lane, Middlewood Green, Suffolk, IP14 4EU



n 17 September, Gábor Nagy from Hungary was crowned young European florist champion at the Eurofleurs competition in Belgium. Sören Van Laer from Belgium won the silver medal, Heli Haapatallo from Finland scooped bronze, and Louisa Cooper did a great job representing the UK. Organised by Florint (International Florist Organisation) the competition saw 10 junior florists

complete five floristry tasks, assessed by a panel of judges. The event also hosted a conference where 10 young florists from across Europe debated issues facing their sector, with an audience of sponsors and key industry people. The team from Florist Business were there to report and will be publishing findings in a future issue.



he Colombian flower industry has launched a brand new UK-wide marketing campaign to encourage florists and wholesalers to buy Colombian flowers. Run under the direction of Asocolflores, the association of Colombian flower growers, and with funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, the campaign will be coordinated by Caroline Marshall-Foster, who has worked with Colombia for over 20 years. It will feature a new website and social media programme, and showcase the latest varieties grown in Colombia, with hints and tips on using the range, information on the country’s ethical and environmental initiatives and practical ideas for florists.


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enya’s cut-flower exports grew by 20% in the first five months of 2017, according to a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). The data indicates that Kenya exported 138,000 tonnes of flowers, fruits and vegetables in the first five months of this year compared to 113,993 tonnes in 2016. Earnings from exports to the UK increased by 4.5 percent, to about €138 million. 19/09/2017 10:15


NEWS IN BRIEF FLEURAMETZ LAUNCHES FREE APP A free new app allows florists to place orders at any time or place. Search for ‘FleuraMetz’ in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.



LOCAL FLORISTS WHO EMBRACE ONLINE SHOPPING SEE BUSINESS GROW Research from Worldpay has revealed that shop owners who offer online shopping have seen a growth in sales of 8.35% since 2015, while those that don’t have seen a sales decline of 0.41%.

he BFA’s (British Florist Association) European Floristry School takes place once every two years. Held over three days, the event gives participating florists the chance to work with a different designer each day. This year’s event was held in August at Moreton Morrell College WCG, and those who attended came from all over the UK, Ireland and China. “The beautiful countryside venue was the perfect location, with excellent facilities and grounds,” explained BFA manager Tracy Tomlinson. “International tutors Mark Pampling from Australia, Moniek Vanden Berghe from Belgium and Nicu Bocancea from Romania, as well as the students,

were delighted to be able to pick from the vast gardens and choose from slate, stone, wood and metal to make the most inspiring designs, using materials that are not always available to hand.” “Many thanks to all the helpers and staff that helped to make this a success story,” she added. “I had a great time at the BFA Summer School this year,” said Karen Massey, from Fleurtatious in Ireland. “I met so many lovely, like-minded people, the course was really well organised, and the venue was great. The tutors were fabulous: really friendly and really happy to share their knowledge. I learned lots of little tips too.”

HAYFORD & RHODES DESIGNS VISUALS FOR FARROW & BALL London florist Hayford & Rhodes is to design a floral makeover for the launch of three new botanical wallpapers by Farrow & Ball.





FLORISMART TO TOUR UK Throughout October and November, Florismart will be touring England, Wales and Scotland with a floristry education bus – a unique roadshow on all things flowers.

new consumer-facing initiative has been launched by MPS Group, which develops and manages sustainability certificates for the international flower and ornamental plant industry. Its new website, followyourflowerorplant. com, aims to a provide assurance to buyers who want to know that the flowers and plants they buy have come from a sustainable background. Every MPS-certified grower is given a unique six-digit number, which anyone can tap into the site to discover the journey of their product. News.indd 9

hree flower firms in Uganda have pledged to invest $17.8m into the country’s flower sector over the next four years, with the aim to increase flower export volume on the global market and compete with their counterparts in Kenya and Ethiopia. Juliet Musoke, executive director of Uganda Flowers Exporters Association, told East African Business Week that Uganda only exports 8,000 tons annually, yet if this investment can address challenges this could hit 20,000 tons.

NEW COVENT GARDEN MARKET UNVEILS REBRAND New Covent Garden Market has announced a rebrand and relaunch of its website www.newcoventgarden – a hub used by traders, customers, growers and more.

NIKKI TIBBLES PARTNERS WITH BLOOM & WILD Online flower company Bloom & Wild has announced a new range of luxurious letterbox bouquets created by famed florist Nikki Tibbles for Wild at Heart.



19/09/2017 10:15




An update from your trade association

BFA FleurEx is an unmissable event for the professional florist, with free entry to all BFA and IoPF members. The show, taking place on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October 2017, is set to be the biggest and best yet, with a brand new venue and fresh new content including: l The live grand finals of the UK Florist of the Year Competition 2017 (Saturday) l A two-hour business workshop by florist business guru Tim Huckabee, who will be flying in from the USA. This seminar will give you clear methods and steps to implement on Monday morning for a direct profit-boosting effect on your bottom line (Saturday pm) l Masterclasses by outstanding floral designers from the UK and Poland. Tomasz, Tina and Heidi will give two-hour masterclasses that include all your materials, so you can simply turn up with your tools and leave with your own masterpiece to take home (Saturday and Sunday) l World-class demonstrations by Pim van den Akker & David Ragg (Sunday) l The FleurEx Competition classes – always an unmissable highlight (Sunday) l The Trend Room – full of inspiration from the Flower Council of Holland



he BFA can save its members hundreds of pounds every year with discounted rates, and gets you networking at numerous events throughout the year, including BFA Florist Get Togethers, BFA Chelsea Inspiration Days, our annual spring business trade conference BFA Vision, and the trade show, BFA FleurEx, which is just a few weeks away.


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l The College Zone – the perfect opportunity to chat to the leading floristry college, and to learn more about and join the IoPF l The BFA T&E is holding a City and Guilds Standardisation Event on the Saturday afternoon; all tutors are very welcome l BFA Awards Ceremony – the winners of the BFA Industry Awards will be crowned and the florists that have achieved their Higher and Master’s qualifications will be honoured at the Gala Dinner l Watch the next generation of demonstrators in the Debut Designers room. The stage will feature the floristry demonstrators of tomorrow, who will share their skills accompanied by the theatre host and compere. The inspirational bite-size demonstrations will last just 20 minutes and provide the ideal platform for these youngsters to get a taste for being a floristry demonstrator l Last but certainly not least are our trade exhibitor stands. Discover exciting new product lines, businesses and services; this year we have some overseas growers, who will be exhibiting their latest varieties. You also have the chance to catch up with industry favourites, with more exhibitors than ever before.

BFA FleurEx is the perfect weekend to leave you feeling energised and inspired – bring the whole team. Book tickets online at or phone the booking office on 0333 666 366. Location Hilton Metropole, NEC, Birmingham, 21 and 22 October Our thanks to all the sponsors that make FleurEx possible: Florismart, Opiflor, Floriguard, Van der Plas, Floral Frog, Floral Tours, Florist Up My Street.

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Lower images © William Armellini –

V ROYAL FLORAHOLLAND TRADE FAIR 8-10 November Aalsmeer, Netherlands Located in the Netherlands' floral hub, the Royal FloraHolland Trade Fair takes place in the famous auction grounds where huge amounts of Europe’s imported flowers are supplied. Over 650 growers and 50 breeders showcase their flower varieties alongside inspirational retail and trend concepts, and exhibitors also offer products for the sector, including packaging, sundries and pots and vases. Open to people in the flower trade, visitors attend for flowers, plants, product concepts, novelties, market developments and consumer trends. Out & about.indd 11

isiting trade fairs is an opportunity to network and gain inspiration, knowledge and business ideas. Europe’s florist sector is blessed with a host of different shows, including BFA FleurEx here in the UK this October, as well as IPM Essen and Floradecora, which both happen in Germany in January. A trip to the Netherlands in November offers a double whammy, with two major events, which can be combined with visits to the Dutch auction as well as numerous flower farms.

IFTF, INTERNATIONAL FLORICULTURE TRADE FAIR 8-10 November Vijfhuizen, Netherlands IFTF welcomes more than 15,000 visitors from over 115 countries during a period of three days. In its greenhouse-style exhibition centre, the show houses the latest in flower breeding and growing, featuring farms from all over the world – as well as new products and supplies ranging from florist tools to retail concepts. ITFT is aimed at both volume flower buyers and florists, and will involve a dedicated area named ‘World of Trends’, created by Green Team Consultancy+ in collaboration with Florint (International Florist Association); this will offer retail trend and design inspiration, as well as workshops and demonstrations on applying trends, craftmanship and fun activities. It also hosts the finals of the Wim Hazelaar Trophy, an international floral art competition.

WHY GO? “I highly recommend the Dutch trade fairs for all staff," says Joanna Eagelton of Eden Florists in Leatherhead. "When we’ve come back to work we are all energised and excited by what we’ve seen. Our customers love hearing the stories, too.” The team at the Devon-based Academy of Floral Art is organising a trip to the Netherlands next month, in partnership with Floral Tours. “Last year we saw some spectacular cultivars, lots of fabulous colours and horticultural shows – and we even had time for a spot of Christmas shopping," says Academy tutor Amanda Randell. The trip is on 9-10 November and costs £380, which includes flights from Bristol, accommodation, coach travel, tours, lunch with a grower and entrance to the shows. For details, email



19/09/2017 10:20


OPINION Should we strive to only buy British flowers?

Chanel de Kock, UK marketing manager, Flower Council of Holland It is understandable that some florists wish to support British-grown flowers, especially in the current economic climate – and with the current unfavourable exchange rates. However, florists need a year-round supply to fulfil their needs, especially with the Christmas season just ahead. One of the current British trends is to offer more fragrant, seasonal and wild looking products to consumers. Ironically, it was florists, supermarkets and consumers that demanded more varieties, longer vase life and absolute product consistency in the first place. The Dutch, along with other



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producing countries, responded to this demand. If you want a longer vase life, you need to take away the energy from somewhere, and that is the reason the fragrance is diminished. Florists wanted more consistency, so breeders responded and offered perfect flowers that all looked the same. Florists wanted more variety throughout the year; the sector responded and offered vast unseasonal varieties from all over the world. The result: limited fragrance, yet perfect blooms (instead of a wild aesthetic) and a vast variety. It will be interesting to see how the sector will respond to the new demand in the coming years. While British-grown flowers also make their way to Aalsmeer to be exported, the Flower Council will continue to promote all flowers to consumers so that we can increase the total spend, supporting British florists nationwide and keeping flowers and plants top of mind with consumers.

Jay Archer, founder and owner, Jay Archer Floral Design & Flower School I buy British for several reasons – it’s truly seasonal, smells fresher (even if the flowers themselves aren’t particularly fragranced) and, generally, British stems have more movement when designing. I also really enjoy the relationship I have with my growers; being able to buy direct, without multiple middle men, means a lot to me. After all, the growers know their flowers better than anyone else. Buying from varying growers opens up my design possibilities and allows me to really push boundaries. Wedding floristry is such an oversaturated market nowadays that each of us has to work really hard to make our businesses stand out. For me, providing British flowers helps me to do that. I’ve worked with a number of my growers since my business started six years ago, and some of them even grow varieties just for me. Should we strive to only buy British? I don’t think it’s sustainable for any business to place all its eggs in one basket, but it certainly opens up your design 19/09/2017 10:16



world. I always teach my students that knowing what product is available where will make you the best you can be; being able to use the right material for the right job is key. Gill Hodgson, founder, Flowers from the Farm ‘To strive’ is a harshsounding activity – it doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do, and choosing flowers should always be a pleasant experience, wherever they’ve come from. I’ve worked for years to promote British flowers and to raise awareness of them. Because of Flowers from the Farm, there are now more than 500 people growing flowers for market, from Inverness to the Scillies. I earn my living growing flowers… and yet I wouldn’t deny anyone the opportunity to buy imports. Instead, I would urge everyone to look again at British flowers: to examine the incredibly wide range of varieties your local flower farmer is growing; to smell again those forgotten scents of childhood summers; to allow yourself to explore Opinion.indd 13

beyond the boundaries imposed on you by the world market – and give them a try. We have top class growers producing fresh flowers and foliage that’s in tune with the seasons. Scented narcissi come out of Cornwall and the Scillies just as the dahlias are fading; there’s never a week when British produce isn’t available. They’ll reach their peak just in time for the busy wedding season, so every bride, event and customer can delight in the joy of a well-grown seasonal bloom. Caroline MarshallFoster, editor, The Florist – Absolutely not… that would be mad. There simply aren’t enough British flowers out there, so without imports you’d end up with a lot of florists and wholesalers – never mind other growers – going bust. UK land is better used for other things, such as housing – and even if we had enough going spare to grow what the customer wants at the price they are prepared to pay, you’d need masses of heating and lighting, which would be horrible for the planet.

If there is a natural British product that works, then go for it, and a 5% lift in supply is just about doable. But let’s not get hung up on imports – they are not the demon some would make out, and personally I am weary of people being made to feel bad because they dare to buy non-British. Countries such as Kenya and Colombia use far less light and heat than, say, the Dutch. Scientists have proven it’s far better buying from them, even taking transport into account, because the flowers are brought over in passenger planes that were already flying. Overseas flower production generates work and pays for food, education and healthcare for thousands of people who would have nothing if it weren’t for flowers. Personally, if I had a shop I’d rather buy an imported flower and explain its backstory, because then I would know I was helping someone who really needed it.

Next month’s question will be: Are supermarkets genuine competition to independent florists? Got an opinion? Get in touch at



19/09/2017 10:17



PERFECT PEAK PRODUCTION You’re wearing two jumpers, there’s glitter in your tea, you’ve red raw fingers and that sweet smell of spruce is mingling with mulled wine as spending increases and special celebrations commence


s October kicks in, for many business owners it’s time to start seriously thinking about Christmas, while some began preparations months ago, organising workshops and planning product designs. For florists and particularly shop owners, the start of the festive season also heralds the coming of Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, the big three peaks that can make or break those annual profits. Flower businesses specialising in gift work will see huge surges in order numbers, and handling the big three takes preparation, perseverance, and sometimes all-night stints fuelled by coffee, pizza and high spirits. We spoke to experienced florists who have shared their tips for getting through without a hitch, and only a few scratches.

CONTRIBUTORS Ian McClellan, branch manager at FleuraMetz Melanie Webb, owner and tutor, Melanie Webb Flower School Kim and Wayne Shepherd, co-owners, Crimson Rose and Floral Frog Lee Ackerman, co-owner, The Flower Shops, Southampton Martin Bakker, owner, Martin & The Magpie PLAN AHEAD Ian: “As a wholesaler, I start thinking about Christmas in September, so that we can have preorders available to florists in November. Planning fresh flowers any earlier than this can be quite tricky, as we don’t know what is going to happen, and there is more uncertainty than ever this year with the exchange rate and Brexit challenges we all face.” Melanie: “I work with florist businesses up and down the country, and when planning for the peaks, all of them look back at the last three years to predict the volume of orders. They also all prepare by getting bows and gift boxes made ahead of time and by cutting cello and paper squares, which are bundled up in colour order and stacked.” Kim: “The logistics are tough – we start preparing a few weeks beforehand, and pre-ordering flowers is becoming much more common. Prices increase at least three weeks before the day, so even when



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pre-ordered we’re paying high rates.” Lee: “We begin pre-making packaging and preparing products in November. For Valentine’s, we do it in January. The difficult one is Mother’s Day because it comes around so quickly after. “It’s always difficult trying to guess how many flowers to buy – all you can do is look at previous years and try to make a safe prediction. We deal with such a large volume of flowers that we have to buy in stages, so during a peak we’ll usually have a delivery every day. “Roses like Freedom – those that are imported from countries like Colombia and Kenya – are ordered to arrive earlier than the rest because they need more drinking time, then the Dutch stems come in a little later.” DESIGN & PACKAGING Martin: “When choosing flowers for peak orders we try to be seasonal, so we have a disclaimer saying we can’t specify certain flowers – only the look and colours, because we change stock so regularly and availability varies. We don’t want a website full of stock photos and matching flower recipes, instead we try to embrace the seasons and use different varieties. 19/09/2017 09:07


“I also think it’s important to change your stock regularly to keep it interesting. We’ve got people buying flowers in the shop on a weekly basis and they’re always curious to see what we will have each week, so at busy periods we’ll have a really good selection to show all that we can offer.” Lee: “For our hand-tied bouquets, we often cover the cost of a vase with every order – especially at Valentine’s – because we’ve worked out that the time it saves covers the costs it incurs. We can prewrap vases ahead of time, and it means staff don’t

need to spend time making bouquets that stand up, or wrapping water bubbles around them. It’s about balancing the costs, and means we’re not paying extra staff to do a large volume of work. We’ve always managed to escape pulling all-nighters!” Kim: “For designs to be produced in such a massive volume, we’ll always opt for the longest lasting flowers, such as lilies and anthuriums, which also provide good value for money. We also try to use as many of our own photos as possible. “Of course, during the peaks all flower costs go up – it’s a supply and demand situation and the demand is so much greater that the growers must increase prices to cope. Many customers think that it’s florists who are taking advantage, so it’s important that we try to educate them on the real reasons.” SPACE & STAFF Melanie: “I know one florist with a very small shop, and they hire a unit to work from at peak periods – this is expensive, but not as expensive as renting a bigger shop for the rest of the year. Most florists do hire extra staff for the peaks, or current staff work extra hours, and most also draft in extra drivers or even use friends and family to cut costs.” Lee: “We often call in extra staff who have worked for us in the past, and we have a lot of part time staff so they’ll work extra days, and the same goes with drivers. For the peaks, you’ve really got to play to staff ’s strengths; some are great at hand-tieds while others are faster at arrangements, so we split them up to different jobs.”

This design is part of the FloristPro gift collection, a set of images that can be used on FloristPro websites for online ordering Business Peak production.indd 15

PROCESSING & DELIVERY Lee: “We’ve got multiple shops and we’re Interflora members, so it is a massive logistical exercise. It’s about agreeing limits, and making sure you don’t compromise your local business by taking on too much. We use Strelitzia Software which makes the order processing system easier; it pools local orders with website orders from every shop and creates delivery lists which prints addresses on label paper.” Melanie: “Some shops change the way they work a few days before peak period, to create a production line with one person making bouquets and another wrapping. They might have customer service staff who only serve, and might also

condition and replenish stock to free up those florists doing the making.” Wayne: “Working with traditional methods, such as writing orders on pads and clipping them up, can be extremely challenging during peak periods. This can be more prone to error where paperwork can be lost, handwriting can be difficult to understand, addresses can be written down wrong, and so on. Then, at the end of the day you’re adding up your sales, working out how much you’ve spent, and typing it all out on a spreadsheet. “We’ve created Floral Frog just for these purposes. It’s an affordable all-in-one florist management software package which automates these business tasks and processes, from point of sale, order processing, card payments, automating delivery routing, accounting and much more. With Kim’s florist background coupled with my IT experience, it allowed us to design a comprehensive tool with every aspect of a florist in mind.” Martin: “We still find lots of peak orders are made by phone or in the shop, but online ordering helps with accepting more orders from abroad and from customers who do it before or after work. It means you’re expanding your opening times from eight to 24 hours a day and can accept orders from new customers in Australia, or anywhere.”

2017-18 PEAK CALENDAR Plan your buying & big spend weekends CHRISTMAS Saturday 23 December Sunday 24 December Christmas Day Monday 25 December VALENTINE’S Saturday 10 February Sunday 11 February Valentine’s Wednesday 14 February MOTHER’S DAY Saturday 3 March Sunday 4 March Saturday 10 March UK Mother’s Day 2018 Sunday 11 March



19/09/2017 09:05




About Nikki Meader Nikki is a Good Florist Guide panellist and the owner of West Malling Flowers, voted two-time Retail Florist Shop of the Year at the BFA awards. She has a background in accounting, building her business on a foundation of impeccable costings.


he surge in gift sales around Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day is a crucial source of income for many high street shops. Order numbers per peak can vary between 30 and more than 300, often replicating the same design. Accounting for such large numbers means it’s really important to cost every item properly, and it’s equally essential to make sure staff are trained to

create them properly without over-stuffing – every stem counts when you’re working with high volumes and small margins. It’s easy to worry about whether you’re charging the right price, and it’s a tricky subject to broach with others, so each month we’re sharing an outline – but remember, every business and location is different, so this should only act as a guide.

£30 HAND-TIED TO BE MADE IN LARGE VOLUME (not including delivery) FLOWERS/SUNDRIES Wrapping & gift bag Roses x 1 Chrysanthemum x 2 Carnations x 3 Gemini x 3 Foliage Red bauble, cinnamon stick x 2 Cone on stick x 1

INDIVIDUAL COST (£) 1.5 0.7 0.6 0.3 0.4 4 0.5 0.5

COST PER HAND-TIED (£) 1.5 0.7 1.2 0.9 1.2 4 2 0.5

COST PER 150 HAND-TIED (£) 225 105 180 135 180 600 300 75

Business charge (15 minutes of an hourly rate to cover rent, electricity, tax)



Skill charge (15 minutes of an hourly rate)






Customer pays






150 hand-tied (£30 each) per week, with three peaks per year Profit per year





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19/09/2017 09:02



MOBILE APPS Handy downloads to make flower business better

FLOWERBOOK Price Free FlowerBook is a powerful app built especially for florists. It allows you to carry a cut flower encyclopedia in your smartphone, and is completely free of charge, with no in-app purchases. FlowerBook shares product information so that users can make smart purchasing decisions with their own suppliers. The cut flower catalogue offers search functions based on availability, colours and product groups, and with 6,500 products and growing, its aim is to make sure florists know what is available across the floral world. A web version of the app will launch in October 2017. YOUR PERSONAL FLOWER GUIDE

INFOFLOWERS & INFO-INDOORPLANTS Price £3.59 Developed for cut flower professionals, this app works as a search engine to find the flower variety you’re looking for. It features functions to share flowers with suppliers and friends, and information screens show further details, including care and handling tips, as well as cold store temperatures and vase life test videos for several products. It offers notifications for flower news, and the Flower Council of Holland recommends this app as an alternative to its flower books and catalogues, which are no longer being published.

CANVA Price Free Using Canva you can create beautiful designs and professional graphics, including mood boards, business cards, website banners, leaflets, social media posts and more. Canva works in seconds, with thousands of professional templates to choose from and the option of using either stock images or your own photos.

FLOWERCHECKER Price £1.59, then $1 per identification Suitable for less common varieties, this app sends photos of unknown plants to be identified by a team of international botanical experts. Its installation cost includes three prepaid identifications, and from then on it costs $1 per check, but if they can’t identify your plant it won’t cost anything. The process takes minutes to hours.


VSCO Price 64p Used by professional creatives, this app is a fast and easy tool that generates beautiful matching colour palettes. Each tap creates a new five-colour palette, and your preferred colours can then be locked in; continue tapping until you have the perfect combination to match your needs and suit the design or scheme you’re working with. It also has a camera function to generate colours from images. Price Free VSCO is an art and technology company that creates a community for creativity and expression. The VSCO mobile app aids photography with superior image editing technology, and it features a social aspect that enables users to create profiles to share and explore content. Business Apps.indd 17



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WO RT H I T ? In an increasingly competitive market, many florists are looking for ways to broaden their appeal and offer more to their customers. One method for diversifying your business is to offer floristry workshops to the public – it gets your name out there, piques people’s interest and can help boost profits


orkshops are a great way for florists to gain new skills, and many of the sector’s biggest names run events, demonstrations and one-to-one sessions to share their techniques. No longer just for those in the trade, they’ve become a popular form of add-on business as florists offer workshops for the public, inviting customers inside the world of floral design. With Christmas looming, wreath classes are a popular choice, and we’ll soon see our news feeds awash with holly and fir. Wreath-making is a simple technique to teach, and workshops can be enhanced with mulled wine, festive tunes and fun, friendly Christmas atmosphere. Many florists organise all sorts of events throughout the year, from terrarium workshops to pumpkin filling. We speak to florists who’ve taken to teaching and discovered what goes into organising their workshops and why they believe the surge in popularity is a positive thing for the industry.

Sarah Richardson, Leafy Couture Flower School With more than 10 years’ experience, Sarah creates designs for clients, tutors professional florists through her Yorkshire flower school and provides workshops for the public. “As a florist in 2017, you have to offer specialist services and something different to entice customers. Offering classes and workshops to the public has a wealth of benefits, with the biggest being that it encourages future customers. By inviting more people through the door, more people will see your floristry work in action, and more people will fall in love with flowers – all leading to more customers. With the increasing pressures of modern day life, people are looking for a creative, non-pressured outlet, and providing fun, relaxed workshops is a great way to capitalise on this. You’re also reinforcing



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the fact that floristry is a skilled trade and that trained florists are the experts. The festive season is a time to celebrate and people are looking for ways to do it, so florists can create a memorable experience: think works dos and family gatherings. When planning your event, we’d recommend offering incentives such as a percentage off the price if more than two places are booked, as this encourages more group bookings. Or try offering a percentage off future classes or flower orders, which encourages new customers to come to you for any future flower needs. You also need to think about your target market,

“PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR A C R E AT I V E OUTLET” which can totally vary depending on the kind of business you have and the event you want to run. Look to retired people for daytime sessions, businesses for evenings, and weekends for young professionals working nine-to-five. You can then promote the session in the shop, via social media and using mailing lists. You can use the event to gather addresses for future promotion too. We started promoting our classes for Christmas in the summer so people had plenty of notice, and we have an online shop so that it’s really easy for people to book. During the class, we ask customers to tag us on social media to raise awareness, and they’re so proud of their creations that they’re usually more than happy to do so. This quickly spreads promotion for both your usual business and any future event you might run.

If we’re running wreath classes during the Christmas period, we set the scene with candles, hot chocolate and mulled wine. We lay out all the flower ingredients we’ll be using, and have the shop looking totally beautiful so that people are encouraged to buy more as soon as they’re in the door and long after they leave. Your approach to teaching can take different styles. Lay out materials and create a prescriptive approach with a ‘recipe’, or opt for a free-flow event, which is much more informal. Which you choose will depend on your pricing structure: for example, buying pre-made wreath bases allows for quick and simple decoration classes, but teaching from scratch takes a more professional approach as it’s about maximising profit and skills. In winter, there’s an abundance of ready-dried items available, such as hydrangea that might be left over from autumn and could be sprayed to use in wreaths.” Fiona Perry Flowers Based in the Cotswolds, Fiona creates flowers for weddings, events, installations, exhibitions and styled shoots, and she regularly attends workshops of all kinds to further her own skills. “Workshops are 100% worthwhile; for me, they’ve generated new customers and new lines of business. I endorse professional training in floristry, but I also think it’s great to share our skills. It fosters respect for our profession, enhances public interest in floristry and helps people to understand that we don’t just ‘play with flowers’. Some of my workshop attendees have gone on to floristry college and realised that it’s not an easy profession! Do workshops make a profit? That’s a work in progress. It’s not an easy model to cost, and the return is there, but it’s hard to measure. They’re an excellent form of local advertising – word of mouth is hard to beat – and they’re a great way to collect customer details for mail shots and promotions. You

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could offer a place at a workshop as a prize, and if people enjoy it they’ll book again and buy from you. When sourcing materials, it’s worth contacting local farmers and landowners and asking for permission to collect any wind-fallen boughs or foliage; you could offer a free wreath as a thank you. I like to provide a wide range of materials; this feeds my creative side and keeps me interested. I also visit New Covent Garden Flower Market to find new products, check out Instagram for inspiration, and look at seasonal publications. I always make a mockup with new materials to see how long they last. Be brave, try something new, but always test it first. When choosing venues, I’d advise starting small and then building up to hiring a larger venue once you’ve established yourself in the area. When costing, don’t forget to include your time in the costing process: that should include the prep, clean up, ordering, marketing and every element involved. It’s very easy to forget to include labour, and even if you’re using foraged materials you should still include a cost for collecting and prepping.

NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS Rebecca Marsala Floral Design Rebecca is running pumpkin workshops this Halloween, filling the seasonal favourite with flowers for a fun twist to entice customers. “Running a workshop can be daunting but it’s so worthwhile – just make sure you work out all costs, and don’t forget your time, food, drinks and VAT. For me, running workshops makes me evaluate my own skills, forces me to articulate the way I work and really get to know my product. Not only can it be financially worthwhile, it also gets your name out there and is a great form of advertising.” Business workshops.indd 19




1&2 Wreaths by Fiona Perry 3 Sarah’s workshops include seasonal wreath-making 4 One of Rebecca’s floralfilled pumpkins



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Q&A Jane Packer Interview.indd 20 19/09/2017 10:29



Jane Packer pioneered fashionable flowers, revolutionising floristry and becoming an inspiration for designers around the world. Jane tragically passed away from a brain tumour in 2011, by which time she had become a wife and mother as well as an internationally celebrated florist with famous clients and numerous RHS Gold medals. In this Q&A, we speak to her husband Gary Wallis, CEO of the business, about running an international brand and always finding excitement in flowers


an you tell us a little about the history of the business? Jane started as a Saturday girl in a flower shop; it began as a means to an end, so that she could earn enough money to buy clothes and go out at the weekends after school, but it was clearly a passion from day one and she ended up spending all her wages on flowers instead. She then took the formal training route, going to Southwark College and later doing an apprenticeship at a London flower shop that no longer exists. She started working alone as a hotel florist, but a recession hit and the cutbacks stifled her creativity. She looked around for alternatives, but found nothing that excited her, so she decided to give it up. At 21 she went to work for a fashion company, where she met photographers, designers, artists and other creatives of a similar age, who were all carving out a path for themselves. There wasn’t an obvious career ladder for any of them, which is Q&A Jane Packer Interview.indd 21

what gave Jane her lightbulb moment: she realised that if there wasn’t a job for her, she’d have to create one. She went back to the same hotel and struck a deal that meant she could start her own business and they would provide the facilities; not long afterwards, in 1981, and at just 22 years old, she signed the lease on her first London shop. It was very hard work: seven days a week, pre-dawn starts at the flower market, no holidays and barely getting by. Money was tight, but Jane took a creative approach to marketing – she left bouquets at the receptions of glossy magazines and even sent her proposals accompanied by an artichoke to get attention! It worked, and only a year later The Times featured one of her bridal bouquets and she became a regular contributor to Brides magazine. Soon after, she had her big break creating the flowers for the 1986 wedding of Sarah Ferguson and the Duke of York, which earned her an international reputation in the industry.




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3 1 Gary Wallis 2 The business’s flagship store in Marylebone 3 Jane Packer 4 (Overleaf) The New York store



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Were you involved in the floral industry at all before you met Jane? Not at all – I was involved in the hair and beauty industry. I’d known Jane since I was about 18 – we were originally just friends, but the friendship grew and when she opened the shop I helped out with painting and odd jobs. Then, all of a sudden, I was working in the flower business. What’s the structure of the business now? We run a number of different departments, with B2B business, online business, the school and the retail side, which includes weddings and events. All of those divisions are headed up by different individuals. We have about 25 employees in the UK, but we also have franchises in Tokyo and Seoul, and more branches in the USA and Hong Kong. How is turnover split between the different areas of the business, and which area is the most profitable? Profitability varies hugely – there isn’t a consistent pattern to any of it. Every year we have to totally refocus different parts of the business because the market changes so much. Our B2B work used to be the most profitable because there’s no waste involved, but that’s changed now. Margins have become much tighter because there are so many new businesses that have little or no overheads, but we’re working to overcome that. When faced with a challenge like this, it’s no good just complaining about our competitors; people who work out of vans or garden sheds to lower overheads aren’t bad people! We just need to work out new ways to compete with them, and for me that’s the excitement of it – it’s not a negative thing at all. Can you tell us about the international aspects of the business? We have arms of the business in the USA, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, with teams of florists in each city, and they’re all very different. In Hong Kong we’ve just got a school with no retail side, in New York the business is our own, while Tokyo is a license agreement that works a little like a franchise. We’ve been in Japan since 1991, but the business has changed hugely – it almost disappeared when the tsunami and earthquake hit in 2011. When your Q&A Jane Packer Interview.indd 23

fellow citizens are suffering and there’s a shortage of loo roll, flowers go to the bottom of your shopping list. We’ve rebuilt the business since then and it’s now very wedding-oriented, because we identified that there was still a market for weddings. Running an international business is hard: you can’t export your team, so you have to try to export your ethos, philosophy and skills. We’re not producing a garment that can be reproduced centrally and then distributed; with floristry we have to rely on the skills of individuals and the quality of their training. It’s important that our teams abroad regularly visit our London base for ongoing training at our school and a refresh of our culture.

“ I L OV E WO R K I N G I N A BUSINESS T H AT I S S T I L L DOING NEW THINGS” Can you tell us about Jane Packer Delivered? It’s our online flower shop, with designs delivered nationwide by courier. We started it in 2004 and were one of the first to do it, alongside Interflora and the supermarkets. At the time, there was this consumer attitude that anything bought online had to be cheap, so we were under pressure to discount. It took us just three months to decide that it wasn’t the way to go, because it meant giving up our ethos. We’re price-sensitive but not price-led, and while we want to give our customers the best possible value, we won’t sacrifice on quality or design skill. We train and employ the best florists in the world, and this comes at a cost. When FleuraMetz opened its cash and carry in Twickenham, they offered us space in their building, so we’d just go downstairs to its coldroom, pick the flowers and take them up to our space again. It was a great move because it means we’re so close to our supplier – not just geographically, which

is great environmentally, but also in terms of our relationship. We do use other suppliers too – it’s impossible to use just one, because they’ve all got different specialities. We also work with New Covent Garden Market particularly for British flowers, and a range of Dutch companies. Where do you source design inspiration and how would you describe your signature style? The time Jane spent in the fashion world really influenced the way she approached flowers; right from the start she associated the business with fashion and interiors trends. That attitude is built into everything we do and I think we were the first to do it. Being a florist is trendy now, but when we first opened in the Eighties it was seriously uncool. We described our seasonal designs as collections and still do now – our summer 2017 bouquets are inspired by National Trust properties. We borrowed that from the fashion world, so it wasn’t an original thought, but it was when applied to flowers. Jane once said: “We consider ourselves a luxury brand, the same as, say, Tiffany or Gucci. If something arrives in a Tiffany box or a Gucci bag, you know someone’s gone the extra mile... that’s why we developed our distinctive black Jane Packer bags.” Can you tell us more about how you develop your iconic collections? We always split our collections into seasons – with flowers it just makes complete sense. These days consumers demand the same products all year round, and I’m happy to serve those people who always want white Avalanche roses, but I do think they’re missing out on all the seasonal things that make floristry such a great industry. I love that you never know what’s going to be available, even in the next week, and I think people are looking for those little gems of discovery in all areas of life. If retailers introduce more seasonal varieties, it makes the shopping experience more interesting and encourages growers to invest in more exciting flowers – after all, we’re subject to their decisions at the end of the day. Can you tell us a bit about your efforts to work sustainably? Sustainability is hardwired in me now, and hopefully it’s not just me! If something can be done in a more




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earth-friendly manner, we’ll do it wherever possible. It makes commercial sense, too. Online business is a tricky area. While we’ve cut down on delivery miles by being so close to our supplier, the whole concept of sending flowers by road isn’t very environmentally friendly. A customer might need flowers delivered to central London, but ordering online from us means that their bouquet is made by our team in Twickenham and travels to various depots on different trucks until it reaches its destination – sometimes right next to our shop, which is ridiculous. We’re trying to intercept those orders and make them locally, but it’s happening across other industries too. The Good Florist Guide is one way to overcome it, because you can go online and contact a local florist in another part of the country. If an initiative like this encourages everybody to up their game, then it can only be good for us all. There are days when we need to send something to the other side of the country, so it’s really nice to know that there’s a florist in say, Edinburgh who we can trust. What do you find the most difficult aspect of running the business? Managing people – not because they’re a problem, but because it’s easy to forget that your team is a precious asset and should be managed as such. And the most fulfilling and enjoyable aspect? 4 are so many! Let’s say you’re having a down There day because it’s early February, the weather’s rubbish and nobody’s spending any money. Then you open a box of spring flowers and suddenly this delicious heady scent wafts over you. That’s when I think, “This is why we do this.” I also love working in a business that is still doing new things and trying to carve out new paths. It’s easy for us to rest on our laurels, but we have to keep reminding ourselves to behave like a new business rather than an established one. That’s all part of doing something you enjoy and feel passionate about. It’s waking up in the morning and thinking, “What am I going to do that’s new today?”

What are your future plans for the company? We are about to start selling flowers online on a weekly basis, uploading a different bouquet at the start of each week that uses fresh, changing designs. It’s not a brand new idea, but we want to make it our own by doing it with passionate florists and unusual flowers, using videos and delivering nationwide. We’re currently trialling it with flower testers who receive weekly flowers and fill out weekly questionnaires. We’re doing exciting things internationally too. We’re seen very much as a home/fashion brand in Korea, so we’re launching a range of fragrance and body care with flower-based natural products. Korea’s beauty products are considered to be way ahead of the rest of the world, so we’re launching there and will eventually bring it to the UK. It’s trying new things like this that I find so exciting. When we first opened the shop, we just wanted to pay the rent. If Jane and I had coasted through the rest of our lives with a nice flower shop that paid the bills we would have been happy, but we were both driven by curiosity, always thinking, “How far can we stretch this?” What challenges do you think the flower sector faces? I think flowers are at risk of being commoditised, thanks to big online companies that don’t have the same passion. If customers benefit from it then I can’t say it’s wrong, but I believe that this industry is unique because it’s filled with people who have a real love for flowers. Many customers have that passion, too – it’s lovely to see someone come into your shop and spend ages selecting flowers because they care as much as you do. Push that back a level and you’ll find growers are the same, even those who grow the most boring varieties; usually they’re incredibly passionate about it. That’s what energises our industry. While I don’t think there’s technically anything wrong with big companies that sell commodity flowers – it is business, after all – I do think they’re deenergising the sector.



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How have you seen the industry change over the years? It’s changed massively with the emergence of online business. There are also many more ‘monoflorists’ now – people who specialise in just one area, such as office contracts or weddings. That totally changes what high street florists are up against. I know we’re a little bit cosseted in London, because we’ve still got huge numbers of people visiting the West End who have money to spend on luxuries, but I am painfully aware of what florists in smaller towns are going through. Customers drift off, and rents and rates only go up, never down; that’s a struggle for us, too. What advice would you give to a new florist starting out? Don’t do it unless you enjoy it, and watch your margins – not your turnover. Can you tell us about the Jane Packer Foundation – are there any ways that florists can get involved? Jane was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour in 2004. At the time, we researched the available treatment options, but found that brain tumour research was seriously underfunded in the UK. Jane received treatment and was able to work and live a normal life until a stroke six years later heralded the return of the tumour, and she passed away in 2011. I set up the Jane Packer Foundation to raise awareness and funds for research. 9 If any florist would like to organise an event or activity around the charity, we would be happy to provide support. We recently launched a campaign called Flowers for Hope in partnership with Brain Tumour Research (;we’re planning to do something similar again next June, and I’d love for florists to get involved when it launches. We also organise the Flower Ball, which has become a very special fundraising event. It will be held again in October 2018, so any support would be fantastic. We have seen our partnership with Brain Tumour Research grow and flourish, and there are now two dedicated Research Centres of Excellence at Queen Mary, University of London and Imperial College London studying glioblastoma, which is the type of tumour Jane suffered from. This, alongside our children and the flower schools and shops, is part of Jane’s lasting legacy.

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1 A naturalistic wedding arrangement, featuring roses and muscari 2 This wild, columnar piece makes trailing ferns and other greenery the focal point 3 Pastel roses, orchids, hydrangeas and candles combine to create a romantic tablescape 4 Orchids trail from a floral sculpture 5 Sunflowers are framed by a sculptural arrangement of conifer cones and autumn leaves 6 A heart-shaped rose funeral tribute 7 Wearable floristry: this floral necklace puts the spotlight on red roses





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AMY CURTIS F LO R I S T RY Multi-award-winning florist Amy Curtis works from her flower barn on Fridaywood Farm in Colchester, where she does gift bouquets and arrangements, funeral and event flowers, tuition, consultation and design work. Her online florist shop provides beautiful, quality flowers for local same-day delivery. Amy is an RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year medal winner, and is part of the design team for Floral Fundamentals and Fusion Flowers magazine. Name Amy Curtis Business name Amy Curtis Floristry Location Colchester, Essex Age of business Five years



How would you describe your style? Vegetative. I like the materials to lead me into a design, and I am not a great lover of accessories, unless they are natural materials. I love looking around Southeast Sundries and taking inspiration from their range of barks and lichens. What inspires you? Nature. Favourite kind of design to make? I love funeral work – I don’t think much beats being able to create a truly bespoke piece for someone’s last gift. Three favourite flowers? Delphinium, clematis – ‘Amazing London’ from Marginpar is divine – and Chasmanthium grass from the same grower.

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Can you name one or more florists who inspire you? All the designers and growers at Floral Fundamentals are a constant inspiration, as is the amazing Alison Bradley. I am also part of a secret florists’ Facebook group, and am inspired daily by their design and dedication to the industry. And, of course, there is always Gregor Lersch!



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EDEN BLOOMS Hazel Shaw trained at Berkshire College of Agriculture and then gained a Higher Diploma in Floristry at Merrist Wood before launching Eden Blooms, one of Hampshire’s most successful floral businesses. She has been regionally shortlisted and placed Highly Commended in the Wedding Industry Awards, is an approved Rock My Wedding Florist, is recommended in the Good Florist Guide and is a member of the Chapel Designers collective.

Name Hazel Shaw Business name Eden Blooms Florist Location Hampshire Age of business Purchased in 2008, trading since 1966 How would you describe your style? Abundant, soft and natural.

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What inspires you? The cutting garden, magazines and I’m slightly addicted to Instagram.

Three favourite flowers? Difficult one, but if I could only work with three flowers again it would be sweet peas, Nigella and Scabiosa. Can you name one or more florists who inspire you? I love the colour combinations created by Lindsey Kitchin at White Horse Flower Company. Her Instagram is to die for.



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© Sophie Duckworth

Favourite kind of design to make? Large installations, such as arches, mantelpieces and large table-scaping. 19/09/2017 10:35


2 1 Floral hoop and blue vintage bottles 2 The majority of these table centre flowers were grown in the UK 3 My perfect bouquet – just-picked, garden-style 4 We love ‘wild style’ flowers; sweet peas, freesias, anemones, paperwhites and Muscari feature here 5 This image was created for a styled shoot – classic whites with sweet peas, white Nigella, freesias, olive and rosemary


© Tom Halliday

© Guy Collier

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s houseplant sales are booming and Instagram is awash with all things green, we speak to Ian Drummond, creative director of Indoor Garden Design, one of the UK’s leading interior landscape design companies. Ian is co-author of interior design book At Home with Plants, published earlier this year. We know you’ve trained as a florist as well as a plantsman. How do you think this background has impacted on your work with plants and indoor landscaping? I think my floristry skills have given me a much more creative approach to landscaping, and to what can be achieved with houseplants.

unlike cut flowers, they last for a long time – they even improve as they grow. Houseplants are on-trend right now so it’s a good way of attracting a different sort of customer, too. Do you think it’s important that florists stock unusual varieties rather than the same standard plants available at supermarkets and elsewhere? Yes, definitely – a florist is a speciality shop and should lead the way in terms of variety and quality. Can you share any ideas as to how plants could be incorporated into florists’ event and wedding work? For table decorations, I would recommend small potted roses in terracotta pots, combined with personalised copper plant tags with each guest’s name. For a more formal look, orchids in rose gold pots are beautiful.



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Images © At Home with Plants, published by Mitchell Beazley, photography by Nick Pope

Image ©

In terms of profitability for florists, do you think houseplants are a viable alternative to cut flowers for gifts and indoor décor sales? Houseplants present great opportunities for florists because you can plant them up in unusual and beautiful ways to complement the décor of your premises, and they look beautiful while they are waiting to be sold. Another benefit is that


Images © At Home with Plants, published by Mitchell Beazley, photography by Nick Pope

WHO’S DOING IT Can you share some ideas for creating instore or studio displays using plants? ‘Shelfies’, which mean on-shelf landscaping, are very popular right now and a great way to demonstrate a huge range of plants which can be changed seasonally too. Make sure you group the plants in interesting pots; cacti and succulents are perfect for this type of display because they come in so many varieties, sizes and colour tones. More and more florists are seeking out seasonal varieties over mass-produced, yearround stems. Can you see this replicated in the plant world? Yes, very much so. Seasonal plants are the perfect gift – hyacinths in spring, miniature roses in summer, poinsettias at Christmas to name a few. Go for unusual varieties too; as we’re nearing the festive season, poinsettias in particular come in some amazing shades and variegations. How much of a role do you think social media has to play in the growing plant trend? Social media has been extremely influential, Trends houseplants.indd 31

particularly Instagram – I think the houseplant trend has been driven by aspirational millennials bringing green into their homes. There are some very good plant bloggers out there who are using plants as a core part of their interior design schemes. We know the houseplant revival is big. Have you seen a particular rise in the trend for unusual, variegated and bi-coloured houseplants? While the trend is still for an abundance of green, people are looking for something new and we are seeing a trend for interesting varieties of houseplants with unusual and colourful leaves, such as calathea – which has leaves that are striped green on top with a bright pink underside. Can you name places you’ve seen the plant trend appear elsewhere? The Conran Shop has some incredible displays, as does West Elm. But even on a smaller scale, there’s a wonderful restaurant in Hackney called Raw Duck, and they display their plants in a simple and natural way that’s really charming.

Janet Davies, Stems Floral Design, London “I think houseplants are on-trend because nowadays people are much more aware of making their surroundings healthier. Even the Sunday Times recently published an article on Spathiphyllum going into space with astronauts because they supply oxygen. With young people it’s become a bit of a revelation, as many of them don’t even know carrots are grown underground! We’re moving from the days of ready meals to Hello Fresh boxes. It’s particularly strong in London where there’s a growing trend for pop-up spaces, which people are filling with green plants – they’re seen as a piece of interior design again. It’s really exciting, they’re bringing the life back into London.”

GET THE LOOK Ian’s top variegated plant varieties

Poinsettia Alocasia Calathea Variegated Ficus Spider plant

Ivy Umbrella tree Dracaena Sansevieria trifasciata Peperomia scandens



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onsumers are seeking out individuality, uniqueness and personality across all areas of retail, and it’s a pattern that’s paving the way for a growing trend in products that offer a surprising twist. Quirky, unusual ideas were a hit among visitors and exhibitors at this year’s Christmasworld, a giant trade fair in Frankfurt that is widely recognised as one of Europe’s leading events for trendspotting in the giftware and decoration sectors. Not just for the festive season, it also covers retail concepts for the year ahead and hosts Floradecora, a newly launched section dedicated to cut flowers and floristry.




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1 Rudi and Pascal of 2Dezign 2 Plastic animals, dinosaurs and other fun, colourful figures are appearing everywhere © 3 Fun motifs at Christmasworld © Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH/ Pietro Sutera 4 Quail Ceramics offers a huge range of animal plant pots and vases, supplied wholesale and stocked by some of the UK’s coolest flower and fashion stores © Quail Ceramics 5 Take a walk on the wild side with this whimsical rhinoceros planter from Chive, which supplies all sorts of quirkily shaped flower and plant products at © Chive Wholesale 6 ©Flower Council of Holland

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WHO’S DOING IT Exhibitors at Christmasworld Eva Olbrich, show director of Christmasworld and Floradecora, tells us about the trend. “We saw a real surge in unusual, surprising ideas at this year’s show. It proved that when it comes to flowers and plants, everything has become possible as long as there is variety and an element of surprise. Anything unusual is now completely justified, and new interpretations of old ideas can work brilliantly. “Popular styles included floating flowers, and hanging floral displays and planters. Pineapples continue to prove incredibly popular, and plants in unusual vessels such as globes and bowls were on display everywhere – particularly transparent containers to show off root growth. We also saw an abundance of surprising flower varieties, such as tulips with double blooms, fine-leaved gerberas, new sorbet colours and roses in pale pastels. “Quirky sundries and decorations were a huge hit, as exhibitors showcased a wide range of fantasy figures such as fairies, sea creatures, unicorns and angels, as well as animals of all kinds – particularly dogs – culinary motifs and even Star Wars themes. “Finally, pink is the huge current colour trend, predicted to seep into every style and season. We learned that this Valentine’s, red will remain the colour of love but experts forecast an increase in rose pink styles this February. White will be the colour of weddings but pastel shades, including pink will increase in appeal. Easter will see yellows and whites with more pastels, and of course we’ll all think pink this Mother’s Day.” Trends surprise.indd 33

Rudi Tuinman and Pascal Koelman, 2Dezign Each year Christmasworld hosts a special exhibition that is curated by the Dutch celebrity florists and TV personalities Rudi Tuinman and Pascal Koeleman. Rudi and Pascal are the designer duo behind 2Dezign, a flower and decoration agency that is commissioned to create products, designs and campaigns for companies throughout the flower industry – and beyond. Pascal tells us about their 2017 exhibit. “Every year we make something special at Christmasworld, but it’s not necessarily commercial. This year it was titled Surprise Surprise and it showcased the most premium of trends. It might only be replicated by 5% of the market, but it aimed to catch 100% of people’s attention.

“In the food industry, fusion cooking has been on trend for years as chefs mix styles and flavours. We created fusion florals with mixed colours and themes. We predict that this fusion style will also seep into commercial trends, with retail florists and designers combining styles. We also predict more mixtures of real and fake, with fresh flowers and plants paired with artificial twigs, greenery and silk flowers. “At Floradecora there is a real mixture of trends and products, and you can see it working as designers use fresh products to make new styles. It’s this fusion that we want to promote. It’s not just ‘plastic fantastic’ and ‘pure nature’, it’s what’s in between those ends of the spectrum that makes design so special and creative.”

CHRISTMAS CHIC Esteemed British florist Philippa Craddock has a concession at Selfridges, London’s huge department store that is famously first on the case when it comes to celebrating Christmas. This year it was the first in the world to set up its Christmas section, which launched in August – a full 137 days before Christmas Day.

Philippa tells us she is seeing two trends coming out this Christmas: Natural greens, with whites, matte greys and a touch of amber. Deep, moody, decadent blues with a wholesomeness about the designs.

Do you agree with Philippa or Pascal, or have you seen different trends emerging? Let us know at



19/09/2017 10:41



Through her famed Knightsbridge flower school, Judith Blacklock has trained thousands of florists and is renowned for her classic designs and timeless techniques. Here she shares tips and tricks from her latest book, Arranging Flowers in a Vase

1 If you wish to arrange flowers that can adversely affect the lives of other flowers, such as daffodils (Narcissus), isolate them by placing them in different vases or containers, one inside the other. This is also a good idea if you are using ethylene-sensitive flowers with fruits and vegetables, so they do not have to touch. If you want an interesting mix try putting them in a vase with a trim of toxin-resilient box (Buxus) such as the design in image 1. 2 If the opening of your vase is too wide and you wish to display only a few fine stems, simply place a short, slim vase inside to hold them. If your flowers are too short for your vase you can place cellophane, pebbles, stones, gravel or sand at the bottom. The vase in image 2 is strong and heavy enough to hold exotic plant material, but the stems were too short to give good proportions so cellophane was scrunched up and placed at the bottom of the vase to raise them.

3 Wrap fabric or ribbon around a tumbler or vase that has seen better days. Keep the fabric or ribbon in place with double-sided tape. 4 Add interest to glass vases by placing one inside another – the inner one could even be a jam jar. Fill the void with cinnamon sticks, pasta, shells, mini chocolate eggs, hard-boiled sweets, shiny baubles, glass nuggets or whatever takes your fancy. 5 If you are arranging carnations (Dianthus) or Rosa, the stems are not the most attractive part. Cut them to different lengths and add interesting colourful stems, such as Cornus or Kerria japonica. 6 Take a narrow vase, or even cut off the top of a plastic water or Coke bottle, and slip a rubber band over. Tuck bark, leaves, stems or even pencils, stems of rhubarb or any other material underneath the rubber band, then hide the band with raffia to create an original vase.

7 Bulb flowers such as Hyacinthus often have soil between the leaves which can make the water dirty and look unattractive if they are in a glass vase. Taking ribbon round the vase, in a colour that links with the flowers, hides any debris and all you need is a couple of blobs of florist’s fix, Blu-tack or glue dots to keep it in place. 8 Hosta leaves come in a vast array of colours, shapes and sizes. All of them are a great asset when you need smooth textured leaves to insert at the base of a vase to hide unattractive stems, give visual weight at the base or make a design appear bigger. Other leaves, such as Bergenia and Aspidistra, can create a similar effect. 9 One way to extend the height of a vase is to wedge a plastic bowl, covered in leaves or sympathetic fabric, in the top of the vase. In image 9 a mass of plant material gives contemporary proportions, where the vase is more dominant than the flowers. 10 Tulipa continue to grow after they have been cut, so when creating a design you will need to trim the stem ends regularly if you want a controlled look. Alternatively, let the flowers twist and grow – the results might even be more interesting!

SPECIAL READER BOOK OFFER In Arranging Flowers in a Vase, Judith explains the elements and principles of design, with techniques clearly and simply explained, along with tips and ideas for making displays exciting and challenging. Available to buy online or at UK book stores, Florist Business readers can purchase it at a special price of £20 (plus £3.65 p&p). Order by one of the following methods.



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By post Send a cheque payable to The Flower Press for £23.65. Address to New Book Offer, PO Box 6337, Bournemouth BH1 9EH. Online Go to and enter code SAVE£5 at checkout. Offer ends 30 January 2018 Only available for despatch to UK addresses 19/09/2017 09:57






1 6 Judith Blacklock.indd 35




19/09/2017 09:58


COLOMBIA CALLING Colombian flowers are returning to the market with a bang


ext month the Colombian flower industry is launching a brand new UK-wide marketing campaign to remind florists and wholesalers why buying Colombian flowers is best. Run under the direction of Asocolflores, the association of Colombian flower growers, and with funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, the campaign will be co-ordinated by Caroline Marshall-Foster, who has worked with Colombia for over 20 years. Working with growers, importers and wholesalers, as well as a team of retail florists, the campaign will focus on showcasing all the latest varieties available, including tips and hints on how to use the range, information on the ethical and environmental initiatives taking place in Colombia, and practical ideas for florists to help their businesses be more profitable. A new website and social media programme will make information available at the touch of a button, while closer ties with wholesalers and florists will ensure everyone knows all about the wonderful flowers that are available from the second largest producer of flowers in the world.

Castle, represent the event sector, where costs are equally crucial. They both use Colombian flowers extensively because they know when it comes to big gigs, nothing beats the value and coverage of Colombian flowers. This means they are exactly the right people to offer help, advice and guidance on which Colombian varieties to choose, what to look out for and why making the switch from simply thinking Dutch can save a fortune. “I love Colombian flowers and they’re on my weekly buying list at FleuraMetz, so to be able to be an official ambassador is brilliant,” said Morgan, who owns Old Oak Florist, with stores in Ealing and Ascot. His view is shared by Karen, who owns Bluebells in Lincoln and has been buying Colombian from RM Flowers in Nottingham for over 22 years. “Sometimes I don’t know the variety names, they just send me a selection because they know me so well,” she told us. “Colombian flowers are always brilliant. They are not just priced incredibly well, but they stay the same all year round, which makes budgeting and costing so much easier. Cappuccino and Quicksand are two of my favourites in the coffee/cream rose range, but for vibrancy you’d have to go a long way to beat Pink Floyd!”

PASSIONATE AMBASSADORS They are more likely to give you flowers than fancy chocolates (remember the Ferrero Rocher adverts!) but the 2017 Ambassadors for Colombian Flowers are every bit as fabulous. Invited to be part of the programme because they genuinely do buy Colombian flowers as a matter of course and have done for many years, the first new faces; Morgan Nuth, Karen Broxholme, Keri Walker, Helmer Cuartas (a Colombian living in London!) and Caroline Pecorelli are all retail florists with their own Good Florist Guide-approved shops – and so they know exactly the sort of issues facing their fellow florists. Fellow GFG’ers Ian Lloyd, one of the UK’s top designers and regular wedding florist for Peckforton Castle, and Louise Roots, head florist at Leeds

THE FINEST FLOWERS Proflora 2017, branded ‘The Best Trade Fair’, is held every two years in Bogotá and this year’s edition is happening this month. With more than 5,000 visitors and over 300 trade stands, it’s the place to meet growers, network with key industry people from all over the globe, discover new trends and see the most spectacular new varieties before they’ve hit the market. When it comes to Colombian flowers, three words sum them up: reliability, quality and variety. Roses, carnations, chrysanthemums and Alstroemeria top the list in terms of volume, but Hydrangea is one of the fastest growing crops, as more and more UK florists realise how big they are and how cost effective they are compared to other supplies. Add in Calla, Agapanthus, sunflowers,



Colombian flowers advertorial.indd 36

Gerbera, amazing spray roses that are as big as some standard ones, and of course the best garden roses you can get, and it’s easy to see why so many florists are Colombian fans. And the secret to the wonderful quality? It’s all down to near perfect growing conditions in the Sabana de Bogatà, identified by an enterprising young student back in the Sixties as the growers’ equivalent of El Dorado. Fast forward 50 years, and the high altitudes and fertile soil have proved their weight in gold, and because Colombia has far less reliance on artificial light and heat, it’s better for the planet – even taking transportation into account. ETHICAL IMPORTS Recognised as one of the world’s biggest flower exporters, Colombia’s flower industry is worth about €1.35bn. Its farms cover an expanse of 20,000 acres in land, and employ approximately 130,000 people. Florverde is Colombia’s stamp of ethical approval. Funded through exports from the Environmental Affairs Direction of Asocolflores, it provides accreditation so that buyers know they’re working with farms who adhere to social and environmental standards. It also assists activities and welfare programmes, such as those that aim to cultivate peace in the family, offering children a safe space away from the dangers of forced labour. Led by the Florverde Sustainable Flowers team, the Florverde stamp of approval strives for real change in the communities surrounding Colombia’s flower farms – but they need help. “We need your support as buyers, because you need to know what Florverde growers are doing 19/09/2017 09:23


to improve the quality of life for their communities, and we are leading the way in how it should be done,” explains Ximena Franco of Florverde. “If every buyer – be it importer, wholesaler or florist – thinks Florverde when they place their Colombian order, we can make sure the right thing is done and make change happen faster.” The Florverde team aren’t blind to the fact that, sadly, as in all countries, there are still some flower farms that aren’t up to scratch: there is still worker abuse, particularly among women, who are often subject to discrimination and harassment, and there are still farms that aren’t working to the right environmental standards. It isn’t commonplace, and in the UK we are probably far stricter on who we buy from than any other country in the world, but for Ximena even one farm that gets it wrong is one farm too many. “We are doing everything we can in Colombia to stamp out bad practices,” she tells us. “Together, we can create a critical mass to educate the market.”


To find out more visit or contact Caroline Marshall-Foster at the UK Colombian Flowers office. Tel: 020 8237 1008 or email

Colombian Association of Flower Exporters Colombian flowers advertorial.indd 37



19/09/2017 09:25





s Gary Wallis tells us in his interview on page 22, if more florists introduce special seasonal varieties, the shopping experience becomes more interesting and growers are encouraged to invest in more exciting flowers. Each month we share special stems chosen by suppliers at the forefront of the market; new, unusual, or on-trend old favourites,

they’re this season’s top spots. This month’s setlist has been put together by Jen Clarke, UK sales manager for Flora Direct in association with Sjaak van der Vijver. “There are some incredible varieties available to take us through autumn towards Christmas, with oranges, reds and peaches,” says Jen. “We are especially delighted to be able to announce the

arrival of Tesselaar’s Alstroemeria variety ‘Jennifer’ in its first year of production – named after me. The new ‘Lovelace’ rose will be popular for next year’s wedding season, too.”

ALSTROEMERIA ‘JENNIFER’ Availability Year round, white only, new variety Grower H.M. Tesselaar C.S., Netherlands

ROSA ‘LOVELACE’ Availability Year round, new variety Grower Arend Roses, Netherlands

ROSA ‘COMBO’ Availability Year round Grower Various, Ecuador

HIPPEASTRUM ‘EXOTIC NYMPH’ Availability October-April, peach Grower Amazone Amaryllis, Netherlands

DIANTHUS ‘HYPNOSIS’ Availability Year round, purple Grower Various, Colombia

SENECIO GREYI Availability September to February, 45cm Grower Forest Produce, Ireland



Products-Flower varieties.indd 38 19/09/2017 10:25


RANUNCULUS ‘NARONA’ Availability October-March, Bordeaux colour Grower Various, Italy

COTINUS Availability September-November, red Grower Various

CHRYSANTHEMUM DISBUD ‘FUEGO’ Availability Year round, autumnal bicolour Grower Arcadia Chrysanten, Netherlands

S T E M E N V Y. . .

Right image: ©

Incredible cut flowers only available elsewhere

FLANNEL FLOWER Scientific name Actinotus helianthi Availability in Australia August-January (but all year in limited volumes) Size Length 40-70cm Shelf life Two to three weeks Shane Holborn, executive officer at the Australian Flower Association, tells us about one of his favourite native stems. “The flannel flower is one of Australia’s most recognisable flowers, with attractive asymmetrical white flowers and grey-green foliage that has a flannelly texture. This delicate beauty is very versatile and is a favourite for wedding bouquets, but can also be used for anything from flower crowns and wreaths to table runners and large and small arrangements.” Find out more about Shane’s work at

Fallen head over heels for a particular flower? Let us know at floristbusinesseditor@ and together we can make sure it continues to grow. Products-Flower varieties.indd 39



19/09/2017 10:25



S AV E T H E B E E S Bumblebee charities are a natural choice for florists who are looking to do a little floral philanthropy. Without bees we’d be without flowers – but our important pollinators are under serious threat, with many species facing extinction. London florist Petalon donates to Bee Collective with every bouquet, and Florist Up My Street has pledged profits to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Why not join them by stocking bee-friendly products or running a charitable offer, for example on bunches using Craspedia? Good for business, good for bees! Bumblebee cellophane Florist, Wedding & Craft Supplies Ltd Price £12.95 per 100m roll

Seed paper, cards & envelopes Wildflower Promotions Price Seed paper hearts are £14.99 per pack of 25

Dried lotus heads Available at most sundries wholesalers Price Average £4 per pack of 50-100 (size dependent) Pollinator Beebom Seedbom Kabloom Price £3.60 each (consumer cost)

Wildflower seeds for bees Wildflower Promotions Price From 40p depending on quantity – own branded packets available Bamboo bee tubes Wild Forms (make your own bee house) Price £6.99 for 50 ready cut tubes



Products-Bees.indd 40

Eden prism terrarium IS Sundries Price Two for £20.98 Image used with permission from IS Sundries

Craspedia Available at most wholesalers Price Average 20-25p per stem wholesale 19/09/2017 10:22 | | 0800 998 9646

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19/09/2017 12:01



BOWLS FOR BLOOMS Special vessels for designer florals

Resin Bowls C Best Trade price £17.95

Napoli Boot Bowl Ecri Living Trade price From €63.94 (various sizes)

Ceramic Bowl Jolina Opiflor Trade price £11.38 for two Marbella Bowl Whittingtons Trade price £11.99

Glass Bowl Innis Opiflor Trade price £2.29 each

Glass Bowl Copper Glow Opiflor Trade price £20.34 for six

Sandra Rich White Porcelain Oval Bowl Country Baskets Trade price £1.83

HP Bowl – Yellow and Black Ecri Living Trade price From €18.27 (various sizes) Products-Bowls.indd 43



19/09/2017 10:23


R I S I N G S TA R S Each month we profile young florists who deserve industry recognition. To nominate someone special – they must be under 30 years old, can be from anywhere in the UK and can be training at college or already in the workplace – email

SHAYNA SPENCER Hadlow College From Bexleyheath, Kent Age 21

What do you love about floristry? I love using art every day, creating beautiful designs, combining colours and textures and finding new ways to express my style. But my favourite part is seeing the recipient’s reaction to my design. I want to help people celebrate their events and special days, and to give some comfort to those who are grieving. I feel floristry should be better recognised among school leavers, because being able to work in the arts is a dream come true. What are you most proud of? There have been a few ‘pinch myself ’ moments, including helping out at the Chelsea Flower Show in



Rising stars.indd 44

2016, competing at FleurEx and coming third as the BFA Newcomer of the Year. I am most proud of the designs I made for my nan’s funeral. She was 64 when she passed away last summer. She helped me to explore art and my creativity – when I was a teenager her garage was my workshop, with half of Hobbycraft inside! I wouldn’t be a florist today if she hadn’t encouraged me. I had the honour of being able to give back all that she gave me in floral gifts and tributes. When the day came, seeing everyone appreciate my designs made it more bearable.

events and competitions under her belt, I am in awe of everything she puts her hand to. It’s a joy to be around her, and I hope we keep in touch while she becomes a designer florist with her own business.

Who inspires you? During my time at college I was inspired by many florists, such as Gregor Lersch, Neill Strain and Simon Lycett. However, I have been most inspired by Heidi Lawley – I am so happy to say she is a close friend of mine and has been my mentor for the two years I’ve known her. She has taught me all the tips and tricks to becoming a designer as well as a commercial florist. With many weddings,

Tracy Benton, who tutors Shayna at Hadlow College, says: “There are a rare few that walk into my classroom and I immediately know that they have ‘it’. It’s not just about being a talented student, it’s the additional life skills – the willingness to learn, the enthusiasm to be great and the confidence to know how to improve. Shayna has always been that person, and even though she has only just begun her journey I can see that she will do us all proud.”

What are your hopes for the future? To become more experienced and confident in my work. I am now in a full time position with London florist Neill Strain Floral Couture so I’m already producing designs I could only have dreamed of! I will take every day as it comes – I feel very lucky to be where I am at this point in my career. 19/09/2017 10:33


ELLOUISE HASLER-STOTT West Malling Flowers From Essex, now based in West Malling, Kent Age 25

What do you love about floristry? No single day is ever the same, which keeps it varied and interesting. I also love doing something that actually makes an impact on people. It’s such a special feeling when you hand over someone’s flowers for a wedding or funeral, especially when you’ve done a good job and an emotional family tells you that you got it spot on. That’s such a proud moment, and you feel like you’ve really achieved something. What are you most proud of? I’ve got two Bronze medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, which were probably the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I’m planning to go higher! I just love Rising stars.indd 45

being at the show, meeting everybody else who has entered and seeing what they create. I will be competing in the next WorldSkills finals and can’t wait – I’m especially looking forward to the training with Laura Leong. Who inspires you? In terms of floristry style, I’m a big fan of really detailed, dainty, intricate work, so I love what Tina Parkes and Charlotte Murrant create. Among inspirational women in the business, I’m totally inspired by Amie Bone, who’s based in Hertfordshire – the work she pulls off every day is amazing – as well as Kally Ellis of McQueens. What are your hopes for the future? To become a successful florist and recognised within the industry. I’d love for people to hear I’m doing a demo and want to come, and for people my age to look up to me the way I’m inspired by the older generation of florists. I’d love it if younger florists felt they could come to me for advice and

to pick my brains! When we run workshops it’s lovely to share my knowledge and to see other people’s interpretations of what’s in my head. I think that’s what’s so nice about our industry, that you can have one idea but five florists will create something totally different with it. Nikki Meader, who employs Ellouise at West Malling Flowers, says: “Ellouise is such an enthusiastic young florist and it’s a pleasure to see her blossom as she aims higher and higher. I love encouraging my staff to push their careers further, and I’m so pleased Ellouise has won a place in the finals of WorldSkills.”

Do you know a rising star? To nominate someone special – they must be under 30 years old, can be from anywhere in the UK and can be training at college or already in the workplace – email



19/09/2017 10:33


UNSUNG HEROES Cut flower importers such as All Seasons Flowers are integral to the world of floristry, organising the logistics and distribution behind millions of flowers, foliage and fresh products sourced directly from farms and producers around the world. We hear from director Simon Cromey as he marks the company’s 20th anniversary

Name Simon Cromey Company All Seasons Flowers I got my job…


hen I was 18 I got a job working at an import cargo agent that specialised in the distribution of fruit, veg and flowers. Through working there I got to know the wholesale markets and learnt all about getting fresh flowers cleared through airport customs and distributed to markets. In 1985 an Israeli flower exporter offered me a job selling flowers for them in the UK. They really chucked me in at the deep end – I was put in an office with a phone and a telex machine and told to get started. I just picked up the phone, started calling people in the wholesale markets and began selling flowers. I met Adam Porges in 1997 and we decided to launch our own import company. I had experience working with Israel and Turkey, and Adam knew Colombia, so we put our heads together to create All Seasons Flowers and 20 years on we’re still business partners today. First things first… As soon as I wake up I read emails on my phone to check on any flight delays. We bring in at least five flights a week so we’re constantly checking for updates. Recently, some of our flowers were hit by huge delays caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma – these devastating storms can have a massive impact on the whole sector. My average day at work… Once I’ve arrived at our office near Heathrow Airport I get straight on the phone and talk to customers from about 7.30am onwards. In the old



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days, we’d do most of our work early in the morning as that’s when wholesalers were most active, but now business days go on much later. In the afternoons, I coordinate orders with our growers and representatives in Colombia. These arrangements can really prolong the day as growers in South America are five or six hours behind, so we can be talking to them into the evening. The import business is much more complicated than it used to be because our service has become far more bespoke. These days wholesalers require an incredible amount of detail – we now have customers who specify certain colours and varieties in one box. We try to arrange as much as possible at the grower end to make our customers’ jobs a bit easier.  I work with… About 65 different customers – predominantly flower wholesalers, including many traders in New Covent Garden Market. All of our customers are extremely dedicated and passionate, they live and breathe their work. We also supply volume buyers and work directly with some very large online florists. At the other end, we work with about 3040 different farms all over the world, with most in Colombia but also in Ecuador, Kenya, Israel, Italy and Thailand among others. The flowers I supply… We import a vast range of flowers and foliages. We work in the volume business so carnations are still popular as are roses, alstromeria and gypsophilia, but imports are becoming more varied. Ecuador produces excellent quality roses, and great tropicals, too. We’ve seen real progress in Kenya, where roses are grown at a higher altitude for better quality, and the sales of Colombian hydrangeas keep increasing year on year. 19/09/2017 10:43


My most memorable moment…. It’s always a buzz when you travel to visit a farm and see the product you spend your days talking about actually growing, seeing how the post-harvest works and meeting the all the people involved in the growing and shipping of flowers. No two farms are ever the same. It really means something and I’m reminded why it’s such a special product and not just ‘freight’. 


The hardest part of the job is… When things go wrong that are beyond our control, like flight delays or poor flower quality. These days quality issues happen less and less, but occasionally we’ll have a problem. It’s frustrating because people are relying on us to supply their product at a critical time. Sometimes it feels like life or death, especially at peak times when customers put their faith in us and we’ve done everything to the best of our ability, but matters are taken out of our hands. Thankfully it’s a rare occurrence! I love my job because… There’s such a buzz about being in a fast-moving industry, and I enjoy meeting so many people along the way, whether they are growers, agents, transporters, competitors or customers.  I’ve sold other products, but flowers are special and people will always want them. I think it’s a job you can be proud of.  In the future… The big unknown is Brexit. No one knows what’s going to happen. Trading over the last twelve months has been difficult because of the weak pound, so we’ve had to increase prices accordingly and customers have suffered.  We have always faced tough competition from Holland. However, while customers still require quality imported fresh cut flowers and foliage, I believe we will still have an important role in the market. We are constantly having to adapt. Whatever happens, I believe we can continue to flourish and move upwards despite the big changes taking place. In my spare time… I spend as much time as I can with my family. I also like to get out for the occasional game of golf; four hours of fresh air and time to switch off. Unsung heroes.indd 47



19/09/2017 10:43


THE LITTLE I N T E RV I E W Learn a little bit about fellow flower people. To be featured in a little interview email

JENNY BRAMLEY Iris and Blue, London What time does your alarm go off? 3am! Name one person in the flower industry you’d love to meet Taylor Patterson, founder of New York based Floral Design Company – her designs are so inspiring and different to everything we see in the UK. Tell us something that would surprise people about you Prior to being a florist I worked for QVC! Name a guilty pleasure Love Island! If you weren’t a florist what would you be? West End dancer. Name the flower you like the least Sunflowers. Rainbow roses: yes or yuck? Everything has its place. What trends do you see facing the industry? I think we’ll see more greenery and plant-based design, tropical flowers, floating flowers, and sprayed flowers/foliage such as those by Spanish florist Bornay. And more dramatic styling, such as that created by Fox Fodder Farm. In terms of vessels, we’ll see a return to pottery, stoneware vases and coloured glass. Name a trend you think is best left in the past I’m not sure anything is ever left in the past, everything is revived and reimagined to represent the current time. For example, who’d have thought carnations, anthuriums or gerberas would ever be fashionable, yet we see them more and more in the top florists’ arrangements as growers breed new colours and varieties.



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Best moment of your career so far? Being named Stand Out Florist by Jade Beer, the editor of Conde Nast Brides magazine, coupled with one of my bouquets being featured on the cover of Brides.

EVELYN JAMIESON Flowers by Evelyn, Edinburgh What time does your alarm go off? I work different hours so it depends, but normally about 6am. Name one person in the flower industry you’d love to meet I would love to meet Michael Gaffney. Tell us something that would surprise people about you I used to hate flowers and didn’t appreciate their beauty. Name a guilty pleasure Watching The Chase. If you weren’t a florist what would you be? If I could study again I would like to be a forensic detective. Name the flower you like the least Daffodils. Rainbow roses: yes or yuck? They can be nice if used in the right arrangement. What trends do you see facing the industry Different styles of arranging, I like to make Scottishthemed tributes and bouquets with lights in. Name a trend you think is best left in the past Blue eyeshadow. Best moment of your career so far? Being able to make special tributes for loved ones I have lost, knowing it would make them happy. 19/09/2017 10:05


CLAIRE SONN Designer Flowers, Ross-on-Wye

JANET EDWARDS Janet Edwards Florist, London What time does your alarm go off? 5.45 am. Name one person in the flower industry you’d love to meet

What time does your alarm go off? 7am, it used to be 3.50am! Name one person in the flower industry you’d love to meet

Simon Lycett. Tell us something that would surprise people about you I like classical music. Name a guilty pleasure I love bling and getting my nails done. If you weren’t a florist what would you be? Hairdresser. Name the flower you like the least Alstroemeria. Rainbow roses: yes or yuck? Yes. What trends do you see facing the industry? Vintage and country garden look. Name a trend you think is best left in the past Crescent-style bouquets. Best moment of your career so far? Recently passing my Level 2 Diploma in Floristry, adding to my previous qualifications.

Paula Pryke. Tell us something that would surprise people about you I was offered a florist job in Bermuda but said no! Name a guilty pleasure UB40. If you weren’t a florist what would you be? Interior designer. Name the flower you like the least Gladioli. Rainbow roses: yes or yuck? Shouldn’t, but yes. What trends do you see facing the industry Green houseplants, there’s a definite gap in the market. Name a trend you think is best left in the past Peach weddings. Best moment of your career so far? Paula Pryke following me on Pinterest, and opening my shop in Ross-on-Wye.

ADAM GARRETT Devine Flowers & Events, Cookham What time does your alarm go off? 5am. Name one person in the flower industry you’d love to meet Preston Bailey. Tell us something that would surprise people about you I’m a trained chef. Name a guilty pleasure Pizza. If you weren’t a florist what would you be? A TV presenter. Name the flower you like the least Any garage flowers. Rainbow roses: yes or yuck? Yuck. What trends do you see facing the industry? Scented and sensual, the romance of flowers. Name a trend you think is best left in the past Conventional funeral tributes. Best moment of your career so far? Being presented to Her Majesty the Queen after an event at Windsor Castle. Little interview.indd 49



19/09/2017 10:03



Share yours with us and you could see your name in print, just post it on Instagram or Twitter, tag #FloristProblems and @FloristBusiness


When the bride wants Kim Kardashian’s flower wall with Kate Middleton’s aisle trees and Princess Diana’s bouquet, but all on a bargain basement budget.


Discovering the most beautiful vintage container... then discovering it leaks like a sieve. But hey, where there’s a will, there’s a way!


Falling completely in love with some flowers, deciding they’re too beautiful to be shared with customers, keeping a bunch for yourself and realising you’re doing that far too often.


When you’re making six buttonholes and run out of wire at number five.


Climbing up inside huge bins full of foliage, then jumping up and down in an attempt to compress it because bin day is a whole week away.


When you’re so proud of a design you spend longer trying to photograph it (at every possible angle) than you spent making it. And then you decide to use the first photo you took.



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Endlessly stuck buckets, and hopping around trying to ease them apart with your feet. Hint! Lie them on their side and roll them with your foot to loosen them.


Regular finger cramp, and sometimes genuine repetitive strain injury, caused by constant wiring, spraying and fiddly work.

19/09/2017 09:38

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