Interview with Ruth Davis of All for Love
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
It was my childhood dream to become a florist. Growing up in the beautiful Lake District, I’ve always loved nature and its always just been there. I remember, as a child, coming back from dog walks with pocketfuls of conkers or pine cones I had collected along the way, or sticky handfuls of daffodils or colourful autumn leaves that I had picked. I would get home and make a messy collage with my loot, stick them all to my bedroom walls, or give them to my Mum in an egg cup.
For as long as I remember, I have been ‘creating’ things and forever have a thousand, often ridiculous, creative ideas in my head of pieces that one day, I would love to make. I paint portraits in oils, and sculpt people in clay, as well as throw my own ceramics – vases, mugs, and bowls on the pottery wheel.
Flowers presented themselves as the most magical medium to create art with. Their transience and temperance makes them special to work with and it’s also a very niche industry that is commercially viable as a profession too. Often, so many artistic pursuits have to remain a hobby, but floristry allows me to bring my love of drawing, sketching, ceramics, sculpture and design neatly into one beautiful craft.
Could you tell us how your floristry career has progressed?
I left school and went to Edinburgh University and actually have a Masters in English Literature…not that I use it very much now! I always joke that “I can write a very good email!” As soon as I finished my finals, I moved to London and started working for free as a florist’s assistant, conditioning and sweeping up leaves, which I loved! I also worked as a hotel receptionist at the time to cover London living costs, taking courses and working in the shop at the same time. It was exhausting but then all stages of my floristry journey have been full of lots of hard work…I think that’s the nature of the industry. I used to deliberately request the morning shift at the hotel, so I could watch the florists come in each morning and change the hotel contract flowers. I was fascinated and always took so many photos and watched them with awe. I still have the photos somewhere…
I quickly fell in love with Wedding and Event Floristry and was delighted when I was appointed as an Events Manager at a leading London florist. I definitely learnt so much in that role and my eyes were opened to using flowers in a totally different way, with endless possibilities, each one bigger and more beautiful than the next. I remember the freelancers would laugh at me taking so many photos of each job as it went out, and I would always say that each new job was “my favourite” and “the most beautiful thing I had ever seen”. The freelancers I met there have become some of my lifelong best friends and I love the positive, creative network there is in the London floristry scene.
The dream was always to have my own floristry business one day and in 2014, aged 25, and slightly earlier than I expected, I took the big step and launched ‘All for Love’, which was definitely the most terrifying thing I have ever done! Looking back, I don’t think I would have the courage to do so now. When I think just how scary the beginning really was, I wonder how on earth I ever did it!
When did you start your business and where are you based?
I started the company on March 22nd 2014! It all began in a B&Q car park, working out of the back of my van and using the flat trolleys as a workbench at 4am before the store opened. In the early days, I worked from anywhere I could… my kitchen tabletop when flatmates were out, my friend’s back garden, laybys, pavements, even my bedroom! Funding premises in London is so tricky when you start up with nothing and it was an expense we couldn’t afford at the beginning, despite being kind of essential! Eventually, I took on a small unit and within a year had taken over three. This January, we moved into our first, fit for purpose large studio/warehouse, which is an absolute dream. And for the first time our creativity is not restricted or limited by space, which is a great feeling!
What kind of floristry services do you offer?
All for Love specialises in styling premium events and product launches for both corporate and private clients, which includes a wide portfolio of global beauty brands including Clive Christian, Neom, Louboutin Beauty, L’Occitane, Eau Thermale Avène, The Sanctuary, Elizabeth Arden, Unilever, Benefit, Nars, Simple, Shiseido, Gillette and Revlon, to name a few. We’ve almost become the go-to florist for beauty brands, which is super exciting. This work is always very creative as there are huge Design, Marketing and PR teams involved in bringing a new product to market and it’s down to us on the day to bring all their plans and designs to life, often in the most ‘instagrammable’ way possible!
This year, we are also honoured to be the exclusive floristry partner of Hearst Live, dressing all events for Red, Elle, Esquire, Cosmo & Harper’s Bazaar magazines. Earlier this year, we were crowned the ‘UK’s Best Wedding Florist’ in the UK Wedding Awards – something that’s still hard to believe! We’re also proud to be the in-house, contracted florist at now three , five star luxury hotels in the city – The Hilton Bankside , The LaLit London and Conrad St. James Hotels. We enjoy being creative in these spaces on a daily basis and see them both as a fab opportunity to showcase our work to the public.
We’re also proud to be listed as the preferred floristry suppliers at the super cool Landing 42, the beautiful English Heritage site, Chiswick House, and most recently being appointed to the wonderful Royal Museums Greenwich Group. Again, an achievement that’s hard to believe. I always thought this sort of thing would remain a pipe dream…but it’s all happening! I was thrilled to work with Links of London on their Chelsea in Bloom 2016 window last year and coming Runners Up in The People’s Champion Award was a great achievement for our young company.
This year we had the honour of working with Cadogan Estates creating the show pieces for Chelsea in Bloom’s Floral Safari theme, bringing life-size animals such as an elephant, lions, rhino and zebras to the streets of Chelsea – it was a great achievement. It’s been a real pleasure working with so many like-minded clients, suppliers and venues over the past three years and I thank each and every one of them for their constant trust in me and their support and encouragement for All for Love.
Where do you get inspiration for your floral designs?
I would say almost all of my inspiration comes directly from nature itself. Nature’s beauty is so accomplished. It is the absolute best source of inspiration for creating installations – no matter how big or small. If you stay true to the twists and turns, dips, curves and groupings of nature, your designs will never be too far wrong to the eye. It’s a case of replicating its patterns and its beauty and bringing a man-made piece to life with the same energy it would have if it had grown itself naturally. Growing up in the Lake District National Park, I have always been exposed to the beauty of the outdoors – mountains, forests, beaches, fells, fields, meadows, caves, gardens – absorbing every element that surrounded me and bringing it to London in my floristry designs. For example, if I’m designing a wedding arch, I want it to look like it has grown out of the church walls and has been there for years, not piped on artificially. This rule goes for everything we make I would say.
How would you describe your style?
I would say my style is romantic, relaxed and always seasonal. Always full, lush and emulating nature. We try to always make sure our flowers are the talk of an event. We’re dedicated to creating an atmosphere with them that goes way beyond just placing arrangements on a table. We set the mood of the party and transform the feel of the place with our designs.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2017?
I’m really excited about the remainder of 2017 and the wonderful opportunities in the pipeline, which are I’m afraid are top secret at the moment. In line with our 3rd birthday, we have had a little brand refresh and gone gold – a great way to celebrate and take the brand forward. I did our first logo on Word with no budget. So we thought it might be time to treat ourselves to a little face lift and we’re loving our new look.
We’re also in the process of launching a new, charitable arm to the business called ‘Loved Again’, more details of which we can share with everyone soon. It’s something we’re all very excited about. Our first event for this was for the London Marathon, working with the Royal Charity, Heads Together. Our charity is all about aiding Mental Health sufferers so this is the perfect, inaugural partnership!
This year, I now have full-time employees with me, which again is hard to believe! Together with my fantastic team and wonderful existing client, venue and supplier relationships I plan to continue to grow the business, expanding our portfolio and creating more breathtakingly beautiful flowers.
We’ve been very fortunate to have a number of international weddings this summer in Sardinia and Portugal, so planning for weddings abroad for our 2018 brides will definitely be a highlight!
What is your favourite flower?
Our company’s name, ‘All for Love’ comes from my favourite flower, the super large-headed, most beautiful, bright pink rose…and the sentiment seemed fitting for a florist too! It also sums up why I got into floristry and why I continue to do it!
Thank you so much to Ruth and her colleague Tamara for all their help in compiling this interview. If you’d like to see more of Ruth’s stunning floral creations, head to the All for Love website. And social media wise, you can find Ruth on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.