Today, I’m delighted to feature an interview with florist Jay Archer of Jay Archer Floral Design.
You may remember that I attended Jay’s Crafternoon Tea workshop back in November and wrote about it here.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
I’ve always had an appreciation of the natural world and loved flowers since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
Finishing school, I did a heap of arty things such as ceramics, stained glass, graphic design and even a diploma in crystal healing.
I started doing evening courses in floristry and when I moved down south from the West Midlands, I really put plans into action to make it happen.
My grandad was a keen gardener and, as a child, I was his second shadow and always wanted to be just like him.
My mum also loves her garden and, as I grow a lot of my own flowers, you could say it’s in the blood!
When did you start your business and where are you based?
I officially started in May 2011, but had been training for five years up to that point, as well as doing a few friends’ weddings to build my confidence and style.
I did my first wedding in September 2010 at the Crooked Billet in Henley on Thames.
I’m based in Basingstoke and cover Hampshire, Berkshire, Surrey, West Sussex and London.
What kind of floristry services do you offer?
I offer a full wedding floristry and styling service, including bridal party, ceremony and reception venue flowers and dressing.
I do ‘special events’ too, including launches, charity dinners, corporate events and seasonal work around Mother’s Day and Christmas.
Could you tell us about your new Crafternoon Tea workshops?
Absolutely. ‘Crafternoon Tea’ is an original concept devised by some girlfriends and I who are all quite crafty. We have a knitter, cake-maker, photographer and, of course, a florist in our group.
Being home birds, we decided to host different events at each of our houses and teach our friends our craft.
I borrowed the idea for my business and ran a small workshop in 2011 to work out the format, practise my teaching style and understand what people would want from such an event.
Crafternoon Tea was officially launched in November this year in partnership with A Cup of Vintage who cater for the event with delicious, home-made jam and cream scones, plus endless cups of tea.
I demo two pieces, such as a heart wreath and table centre, and guests are then invited to pick their own flowers and make one arrangement of their choosing.
The launch event was held at Fetcham Park in Surrey where we’ll be hosting two events next year.
We’ll also be running various events at venues throughout the South East including Bignor Park in West Sussex, where we also get to use their swimming pool!
The confirmed dates are March 17th and December 1st at Fetcham Park in Surrey and July 2nd at Bignor Park in West Sussex.
We’re hoping to get two more summer/early autumn dates in too, at a central London location.
How would you describe your style?
Rustic and natural. I don’t like to fuss with the arrangements too much, as I believe flowers are most beautiful in their most natural state.
I love texture and my arrangements will often have lots of different flower, herb, grass and foliage varieties.
I also like to use wood, gold leaf, branches, moss and potted plants such as tillandsia, succulents, ferns, violas and herbs.
It’s important to me to grow what I can in my small space and also support English growers. So I source a lot from Winchester and Cornwall.
Anything I can’t get from there, I source from Holland and a lot of it is Fairtrade.
What’s been happening this month and what are your plans for next year?
We’ve had a busy end to 2012 with lots of winter wonderland inspired weddings. And, of course, the Christmas season including lots of wreaths and private mantelpieces to be dressed.
We also won an award recently…the Hitched Breakthrough Awards 2012 – Best New Wedding Florist.
So taking stock of that and using it to make new contacts will certainly keep us busy.
We’ll also be manuring our three plots, sowing seeds into 2013 and hopefully, expanding on what we grew in 2012.
I’m pleased to say we’re very nearly fully booked for April, May, June and July 2013 and are now getting lots of autumn/winter enquires. We also have some 2014 and 2015 dates in the diary!
Aside from weddings, next year I hope to develop my ‘A Year’s Supply of Flowers’ and ‘Living Art’ products which are available to view on the ‘Events and Emporium’ section of the website.
What is your favourite flower?
Without a doubt, sweet peas.
They hold sentimental memories for me and my business logo is a beautifully drawn sweet pea.
I’m always amazed at how powerful the scent is from such a small, almost insignificant flower.
I love all English garden flowers though, although I am not the biggest fan of roses or peonies…I think they’re often overused.
I love astilbe, ‘Princess Caroline’ delphiniums, Icelandic poppies and passion flowers.