Interview with Florence Kennedy of Petalon, Author of the New Book ‘Flowers Every Day’
Who did you have in mind as being the ‘ideal reader’ when you wrote ‘Flowers Every Day’?
I used my friends really. I have so many who like to entertain friends and family, who like to have gatherings and who like to have a go at doing things yourself. I think it’s a really positive spin on being “house-proud” that we’re going for, where it’s not about showing off but making an effort for people that shows how much you appreciate them.
What is your favourite floral design in the book?
It has to be the staircase we dressed. My husband James whispering “Jumanji” as we did it. We designed it with that particular house and style in mind, using less obvious flowers like seed pods and cow parsley, the sort of thing that you can find in your garden growing wild. It gave a really lovely feel of something that interacted with the building it was in.
You mention in the book that you’re not classically trained. How did you learn how to make your very first bouquets?
Trial and error! But with guidance from some trusted books. That’s what I hope this book will be for other people too – a safe base from which to experiment and develop their own style. I try not to be too prescriptive about what to use but be explicit about a technique that would work to lay the groundwork. I want people to be able to let go of their worries of doing it the “right way” and just have a go.
How would you define your current floristry style?
I try to let flowers dictate the arrangements they’re in. You’ve got to show off the flowers’ natural beauty however is best in the situation. It isn’t a manicured style, though I certainly appreciate the beauty of that style in other people’s work.
What has been the impact of social media on your business?
Enormous. Instagram is our main connection to the world. Twitter and Facebook have less of an impact though I recognise their value. When we were starting out, the visual basis of Instagram allowed us to have a voice in the world without spending a fortune on marketing. As we’ve grown, it remains a key way that we interact with the world and I don’t know what we’d do without it.
Looking back to when your floral journey started in 2013, what advice would you have given yourself?
Be patient. Relax. Have fun. Stop crying. I think I needed the confidence to step back from a rigid expectation of the future and enjoy the fact that the company will find its way and that that may change as you go. Also the value of good systems. But that’s a bit boring.
What are your plans for the next five years with Petalon?
Keep growing in a controlled way without outside influence. Maintain our personality and the intimacy of our relationship with our customers. Try new things and most of all, to enjoy it.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of a career change and becoming a florist?
Be realistic about what hard work it is and that there are much more financially rewarding professions out there. Florists work hard, but that also shows you what a great job it is that they still want to do it. Don’t spend a fortune on training, pick styles you like and try to learn from the people who create them. But always bear in mind that conventional training is an excellent way of learning to do things a conventional way.
Published by Pavilion, ‘Flowers Every Day’ is available online from Amazon. For more information about Florence’s beautiful floral creations, please visit the Petalon website. Social media wise, you can find the company on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
(Images : India Hobson)