Continuing my new blog post series called ‘Florist Friday‘, today I’m thrilled to feature an interview with Charlie Quartley of The Flower Fairies.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
I think I kind of stumbled into floristry really. There was never a plan or a dream, more a desire at a certain time of my life to do something more creative, inspiring and fulfilling that gives something back to people.
I always considered myself to be creative and my early career was spent in marketing, producing point of sale for a FMCG company.
However, the restrictions and confines of working for such a large organisation wore thin over time and any creativity felt very restricted.
With the arrival of my second child, I knew I didn’t want to go back and I also wanted to do something that would allow me to be a mother to my children.
While on maternity leave, a friend of mine bought a flower shop and I would find any excuse to visit and gaze in awe at the beautiful arrangements that she and the team were creating.
The joy I felt when I was in and amongst the flowers was immense. So you can imagine my delight when I was offered a part-time job in the shop.
It was the perfect stepping stone for me. It allowed me to indulge my creative streak and new-found passion, while also being a mummy.
When did you start The Flower Fairies and where are you based?
The Flower Fairies started in 2006, initially in my garage in Bicester!
I started making Christmas arrangements and wreaths literally knocking on people’s doors, selling my wares.
Then a work colleague from my marketing days asked me to do their wedding flowers. I actually couldn’t believe they had so much faith in me!
I’d been doing an evening course that gave me the basic qualifications. But with a real life wedding looming, I decided to do the Jane Packer Advanced Wedding course.
This was truly inspirational and I was fortunate to have Jane teach me herself. Those weeks were some of the most magical and she really taught me to explore all the elements of a flower and how they could be used in different ways.
So, with my first wedding done and some pictures to hand, a website was built and a garage converted…The Flower Fairies was born.
We now have a beautiful workshop in Long Hanborough, just north of Oxford, and a team of fairies that help create a little of our own magic.
What kind of floristry services do you offer?
The Flower Fairies are all about weddings. We do events too, but the vast majority of our work and passion is weddings.
We can provide everything from the bouquets, buttonholes and hair flowers through to church arrangements and venue displays.
We also have a wealth of items available to hire to create a look or style in keeping with the day such as vases, stands, pillars, urns and candelabras as well as vintage crates, glassware, watering cans, milk churns and jugs.
We’re constantly adding to our collection, so there is always something new to talk about.
Could you tell us about some of the recent weddings that you’ve worked on?
These two weddings from last year really stand out and both for different reasons.
The first one was inspired by Moulin Rouge and took place at a fabulous venue…Aynhoe Park.
When so many weddings use muted blush and pastel tones, it was really refreshing to work on such a vibrant colour scheme, mixing deep magenta reds and pinks with dark purples…LUSH!
We created some large floral domes on antique brass candlesticks for the table arrangements that created a real wow factor when their guests walked in.
And we used the venue’s unusual collection of taxidermy to create an enchanting backdrop for the ceremony.
The other one was a September Love Fest that allowed us to really indulge in our natural, relaxed country style.
It was for a wedding photographer who I met through the industry and have since become friends with.
Given her job, her own creativity was lavished on the day in bucket loads! She gave us complete free rein to do what we thought best. Her only request being the colour scheme ‘Peach’.
This actually proved to be a tricky one as all the autumnal seasonal offerings started to come in and pale peach is not exactly a colour you associate with autumn.
However, by introducing some pale lemons, pinks and blues, we were able to broaden the materials available and had so much fun creating everything from the eighty-plus jam jars to the gorgeous floral crown for the bride.
How would you describe your style?
Our style is all about texture and using the right combination of materials to create something that is not only beautiful, but also interesting to the eye.
The English country garden look is a look that I love and colour plays an important role in this too.
Most gardens will have an eclectic mix of colours placing all hues of the rainbow next to each other and nature has an amazing way of making this work.
I love to take that concept into our arrangements, using lots of different materials and often colours to provide depth and interest.
What are your plans for 2013?
2013 is all about living in the moment and enjoying what we do best…flowers!
The past few years have been so busy with building the business, building a new workshop, creating and re-launching our branding and website, recruiting a team of fairies who I can trust and love to work with, establishing and building relationships with our suppliers and venues etc. that this year I want us to JUST do what we are about…creating a little bit of magic with flowers that hopefully bring joy and smiles to others.
We live in a world that is constantly looking for the next big idea, the next new way of doing things and as individuals we also put pressure on ourselves to constantly develop and improve.
The business woman in me will always look for ways to improve our service and develop what we do, but this does bring with it stresses and strains. So this year, I really want us to rest in the here and now and just enjoy what we do.
Along this theme, we’re also launching a concept that is all about ‘Passing it on’ through the gifts we’ve been given, we can give something back.
I consider my flower skills to be a gift, a blessing and it has very much been on my heart to use this for those less fortunate than us.
So, next Saturday 20th April, we’re opening our studio doors for ‘The Spirit of Flowers’ a charity event where ladies, girls, sisters and mums can come together for a couple of hours of flower arranging, indulge in scrummy cakes and take time out from their busy, crazy lives.
All the proceeds from the day will go to ‘Vision Rescue’, an inspiring charity doing some amazing work with children in Mumbai.
I really hope that this will be the first of many charity events that The Flower Fairies do, helping to raise awareness and support those who are in need of some extra love and care.
What is your favourite flower?
Wow, this is a tough question!
My answer to this will not only change with the season, but I still continue to discover new varieties and materials that become new favourites.
Last year I discovered Acacia, a foliage which in September and October is a beautiful soft silvery grey with delicate fronds that look like lace…I couldn’t get enough of it!
I guess my all-time favourites though would have to be anemones and dahlias. The colours and textures are just stunning, especially British-grown varieties.
Thank you so much to Charlie for all her help in compiling today’s blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed putting it together yesterday.