Last month at the College Day at New Covent Garden Flower Market, I met florist Victoria Richards.
To over 550 students, Victoria who’s only in her early 20s, did an amazing demonstration on the main stage. And today’s blog post features images from the morning, together with a Q&A.
Joe Massie, who I wrote about in a blog post earlier month, is Victoria’s WorldSkills mentor and he compered the demo.
After the event, Victoria very kindly answered a few questions:
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
I’ve always been interested in flowers and plants from a young age after helping my mum sort out her flowers when she had some from my dad or if she bought her own.
I watched how she arranged them and always helped my nan do her garden in the summer holidays.
It was only when my mum found a flower shop for me to go and do my work experience at school that I knew that I wanted to do floristry as a career. Up until then I’d had always wanted to be an art teacher.
After spending a week in the shop, I loved it as I found it a form of art that I’d never thought of before. It was so interesting to discover what designs you could create.
When did you start working as a florist, who do you work for currently and where are you based?
I then volunteered at this shop to keep me busy and get experience as I was starting a floristry course later on that year. I’ve worked as a florist ever since.
I’m based in the Birmingham/Staffordshire area but work in two shops – Lavender Florist in Penkridge and Herbarium in Aldridge.
I’m currently working towards doing demonstrations, workshops and events alongside my jobs in these two shops. I love doing demonstrations as I love to inspire people. I also love workshops as I like to try to share what I’ve learned through my training.
Where do you get inspiration for your floral designs?
I get my inspiration from a lot of things. I try to look at shapes, textures, competition briefs, books and magazines. Plus I look at things which are not really floristry-related. Sometimes taking a walk can be inspiring.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t think I’ve actually found my own style yet. I like to try things out a lot and use new materials so I’m not 100% sure.
What is your favourite flower?
My favourite flower really does depend on what sort of day I’m having or what mood I’m in at the time.
Although I do like flowers that have different things you can do with them like craspedia. It can dry out so doesn’t always need a water source, plus it can be straight and it’s also very flexible.
Could you tell us more about the competitions you’ve entered?
I’ve entered a lot of competitions. I’ve not always been successful in them but I always take away the feedback given by the judges.
The biggest and most beneficial competition I’ve entered so far has been WorldSkills. It’s a four day competition that is very intense and really tests the knowledge of competitors from across the world as we do not know what we have to make until we get there.
It was hard but good fun and receiving a ‘Medallion for Excellence’ made my experience a whole lot better. My confidence grew so much throughout the training and competition, and I feel I grew as a florist due to all of the tuition I received from across the world.
What are your plans for 2012?
Next year, I have a few events coming up which I’m doing flower designs for and I’m going to try to build up demonstration and workshop experience along the way.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Definitely WorldSkills. It was the most amazing experience, meeting and making friends with lots of amazing people, making tons of memories along the way, learning so much from the experience and training from visiting lots of different countries.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to improve their flower arranging skills?
Enter competitions you always come away with something. You may not win all of the time but you have nothing to lose. You can only gain experience, confidence and knowledge from taking part.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Victoria’s designs today and reading her interview.
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on how her career progresses!
(Images : Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona)