It’s Florist Friday and today, it gives me such pleasure to share with you an interview with Rachel Wardley, founder of the Tallulah Rose Flower School…a very inspirational lady! She was the first person to ask me to train her floristry students on social media, which I continue to do. Over the last few years, I’ve really enjoyed watching her flower school in Bath blossom and following the progress of her students, once they’ve ‘graduated’. I adore writing Flowerona and even more so, I’m very grateful for all the wonderful people I’m getting the opportunity to meet on my floral journey, like Rachel. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the next few years have in store for her and her business…
Could you tell us about your background in the world of floristry?
My interest in floristry was sparked when I moved to London in the early 90s and I saw the most amazing flower shops that simply didn’t exist back home in the north of England. I remember peering into Jane Packer’s tiny flower shop on St James Street with absolute wonder, as I watched the most beautiful bouquets appear in front of my very eyes! I was in the fashion buying industry at the time and loved my job, so it was some time before I found myself in the world of floristry.
A very special friend gave me a gift of a one day course with Jane Packer. I loved every moment and I guess without really knowing it, I was bitten by the bug! I started to arrange flowers at home and experiment with my own style. As time went on, I became brave and started to give away my flowers to friends and family and even (on a good day!) to local businesses. Around this time, my husband and I decided to up sticks and leave London for a change of pace and scenery. I decided to take the plunge and invest my savings into completing the Jane Packer Career Course.
I completed the course and within a year had launched a business in the city of Bath. I began with a small shop, a very small flower school and the beginnings of a wedding and event business. The business grew and after 18 months, I moved to larger premises that enabled us to grow the wedding and event business.
The move, I’m sorry to say, was timed with the recession and the shop sales struggled. After 2 years, the lease renewal was looming and I decided to take this opportunity to close the shop and use it as a workshop for the remaining season’s weddings. We completed over 100 weddings that season and I decided to take some time out and refocus the business.
By taking a step back, it became very obvious that I was frustrated with the slow development of the flower school. For some time, I had wanted to develop my own four week career course and expand the day course curriculum too. But with so many events, it had proved impossible. It was a light bulb moment and I spent time rebranding and redefining the school strategy. Starting from a home workshop, I built the four week career course gradually, taking each class on a one-to-one basis until I was happy to take on more students on each course. The flower school grew in popularity thanks to our social media following and we’re now a small (but perfectly formed!) team of 4! We initially moved into a central Bath location and recently we’ve moved again to accommodate the growing popularity of our courses. Everyone who works for the Tallulah Rose Flower School has great floristry experience and is very giving with their knowledge…the essence of our flower school.
When did you set up the Tallulah Rose Flower School?
Tallulah Rose was ‘born’ in 2009.
Where is your flower school based?
The flower school is based in the beautiful, historical city of Bath. A city known for its history and shopping in equal measure, with many independent shops, cafes and restaurants. We take students both nationally and internationally and are happy to recommend accommodation suitable to all budgets. A city large enough to offer a variety and small enough to feel homely, especially for those staying for the month. With excellent links to London and the South West, we’re well-placed to explore both the capital city and the countryside at weekends…if our students have the energy after working hard all week!
What type of courses do you offer?
We specialise in a four week career course offering a comprehensive curriculum for those students wanting to enter into the flower industry. This course is a mix of technical and business content, and has been the foundation for many new florist businesses. We also offer one day courses from bridal bouquets to table centres, festival flower crowns to seasonal planting. The one day courses are designed for both the absolute beginner through to those with more experience, simply seeking new inspirational ideas.
Could you tell us about your Taster Days?
We introduced our Taster Days back in 2012, designed for those thinking of enrolling on to the four week career course. We appreciate that this particular course is both a financial and time commitment and for some, it requires a lot of logistical support too. For this reason, we decided to introduce a day where any potential career course students could visit the school, meet the team and learn in detail about the course. The day is, by design, informal and relaxed and allows everyone time to ask as many questions as they have about the four week course, in order for them to decide if the course is right from them.
How would you define your approach to floral design?
This is a really important one for us. Because we run a flower school we’re very conscious that we allow our students the freedom to explore different styles…after all, everyone is different. Of course, we do have our own approach to floral design. First and foremost, using great quality flowers, UK grown where possible, with an abundance of colour and texture too. We believe it’s vital to give your arrangements texture and therefore interest. We’re not constrained by the ‘rules’ (for want of a better word). For us, if an arrangement is safe, has the ability to last, is balanced and makes the most of your flowers, then whether you favour vintage or modern chic, anything goes…
What are your plans for 2014?
We never take our eye off the ball! We’re continually working to achieve the best course content available for all our courses. Our four week course has evolved over the past four years to include the very best of technical design, whilst ensuring that our business content remains up-to-date and includes the best professional advice we can give. We invite professionals from their chosen field to come into school to advise our students, from accountants to flower growers, bank managers to brand designers. 2014 will be no different. We will continue to keep updating our courses, adding and taking away where we feel necessary and relevant.
We’ve recently taken a trip to Flowers by Clowance down in Cornwall and have become a member of The British Flower Collective. We’ll be working with local growers wherever possible this year and have introduced ‘British Flower’ days onto our courses, so that our students can experience working with homegrown flowers.
We’re introducing two brand new courses to the school curriculum this year. We’re very excited about both courses…the first being a four day Advanced Floristry course designed specifically for students who have completed the four week career course with Tallulah Rose or for those already in the florist industry and seeking confidence and inspiration. This course will focus on managing and designing large scale, opulent events giving the students the confidence to do this for themselves. The second new course is a three day Sympathy Flowers course, designed for those already in the flower industry or for those with some flower arranging knowledge who are wanting to specialise. This course will cover both practical and theory, and will include working with a willow casket.
We’re also offering business consultancy for the first time this year. We’ve helped so many of our former students with building their businesses at different stages of growth and as we’ve had such great feedback, we’ve decided to offer this as an independent service.
Do you have a favourite flower?
Probably the hardest question. With every new season that comes around, I have another favourite flower! Ranunculus, Anemone, Hydrangea, Peony the list goes on……..
Thank you so much to Rachel for all her help in compiling today’s blog post. If you’d like to find out more about her courses (which I can personally recommend), do pop over to the Tallulah Rose Flower School website.
To keep up-to-date with Rachel’s news, here’s where you can find her on social media:
And this is where all the magic happens!
(Images : Rachel Wardley/Tallulah Rose Flower School)