Today, as part of my Florist Friday series, I’m delighted to feature an interview with Hannah Bignell of Ruby & Grace. I met Hannah back in May at the Spirit of Summer fair in London. And she’ll be at the Spirit of Christmas fair today, tomorrow and Sunday conducting workshops on ‘Sensational Christmas Flowers’.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
I come from a family of keen gardeners and people who’ve worked within creative fields, like fashion and art. My ‘old life’ was in corporate HR, but I always had a yearning to fulfil the creative side of my personality. I just wasn’t sure how. My Saturday treat was to spend a fortune in the local florist getting flowers for the house, before taking them home and attempting to arrange them. One day, I booked myself onto a Jane Packer course and as I sat there in floral heaven, it dawned on me that floristry was the answer to my career dilemma.
Could you tell us how your floristry career has progressed?
It started with one wedding and some flower orders. And from there, I focused on building a good reputation and strong relationships with local people and wedding venues. Business grew quicker than I ever imagined and every year we’re busier and busier, working at some of the most beautiful venues within the area. We started to appear regularly in magazines like Wedding Flowers and Wedding. And later were thrilled to appear in The Independent’s 50 Best Florists List. In 2012, we were asked to provide the floral arrangements for Pippa Middleton’s book ‘Celebrate’. And in 2013, we were awarded Best London & South East Florist in the Wedding Industry Awards.
When did you start your business and where are you based?
After I took the plunge and handed in my notice in my old job, I did a few short floristry courses and managed to persuade someone to let me work for them which I did for six months. I set up Ruby & Grace in 2008, working from a tiny space at home and getting work through word of mouth and our website. A few months later, I took on our first premises, an old granary. We’re now based in a two storey studio in Pangbourne in Berkshire and there are six of us in the team.
What kind of floristry services do you offer?
We specialise in weddings and events, but also run floristry workshops as well as bouquet deliveries and funeral flowers.
Where do you get inspiration for your floral designs?
Visiting the flower market is always good for seeing new varieties and working out how things would combine together. Going to other countries and drawing inspiration from alternative approaches also makes you think of things from a different viewpoint. We also take direction from the concepts our customers come in with and use our experience to work out how to achieve what they’re looking for.
How would you describe your style?
I think our work is recognisable by the way we put colours together. I would describe our style as natural with no artificial additives, but lots of texture with a full and luxurious style.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2014?
This has been our busiest year to date which is fantastic. And we will be busy with gorgeous weddings throughout November and December. We also run a pop-up Christmas Flower Shop locally, which we love! So it’s full steam ahead until lunchtime on Christmas Eve, when we’ll take a much looked forward to breather!
What is your favourite flower?
It’s so difficult to choose only one. I love that due to the seasons, flowers come and go. And each year, you’re reminded of how lovely certain things are because they’ve not been around for a while. If I had to choose one though, it would probably be the rose…if a little predictable. I always use them and can never believe it when people say they don’t like them! To be specific, it would be Norma Jeane roses for their beautiful lemony scent. I also love paperwhites for their strong fragrance…you either love them or hate them!
Thank you so much to Hannah for all her help in compiling today’s blog post! Do pop over to the Ruby & Grace website to see more of her beautiful floral designs. And if you’re visiting the Spirit of Christmas fair today or at the weekend, make sure to see her workshop. And don’t forget to queue early!
To keep up-to-date with Hannah’s news, here’s where you can find her on social media:
(Images : Ruby & Grace)