I recently visited the florist shop La Maison des Roses and met the owner, Levine Woods Dobricza.
Tucked away in a side road off the bustling Northcote Road in south west London, Levine’s shop is a heavenly oasis for all flower lovers, in particular those who are fond of roses.
There’s a truly magical atmosphere when you step inside and the scent of rose candles burning is so soothing and welcoming.
Customers love her beautiful ever-changing shop window displays, which had an Easter theme when I visited. You can see some images in this blog post.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
My parents had a massive garden, so flowers were always there in the background, when I was growing up. And my dad is a very keen gardener.
For my 23rd birthday, my mother bought me a book called ‘Gardening without a Garden’ by Gay Search.
One of the designs in the book really caught my eye. And being a very visual person and always wanting things to look right, I searched high and low for the correct type of galvanised container and plants that Gay had used.
At the time, I was working in Dublin for an international bank, and prompted by the book, I decided to enrol in floristry evening classes at Marino College.
Flowers, and in particular roses, soon became my passion and I started spending all my free time flower arranging for friends and family.
Then in 1999, I moved to Paris with my job and at the weekends, I would work in a flower shop.
When did you open La Maison des Roses in London?
I thought it would be lovely to recreate the feel of a Parisian flower shop in England.
So, my husband and I decided to move to London and started researching where best to buy premises. We visited shops in Fulham, Richmond and Notting Hill, and found the current shop in south west London, near Clapham Junction.
It was originally a dark, dusty antique shop but I loved its huge windows. So once we’d refurbished it with rose-sprigged wallpaper and vintage French furniture, we opened in November 2005.
Could you tell us a little bit about your shop?
La Maison des Roses is devoted to roses. We wanted to have a niche and to stand out from the crowd.
All of our bouquets contain roses and we also add complementary seasonal flowers and foliage, such as sweet peas, hydrangeas, bouvardia, spirea, guelder rose and eucalyptus.
We also sell silk rose flowers, as individual blooms and arrangements, plus our own range of rose candles, room sprays and bath oils.
As well as bouquets for the home and as gifts, we provide flowers for weddings and corporate events such as product launches, and parties. And for those who would like to learn about flower arranging, we hold adult classes and rose parties for children too.
From the very beginning, we decided that we didn’t want to be a corner shop, but want to have nationwide appeal and make beautiful flowers available to people throughout the UK. So, we’ve trademarked the logo and have nationwide delivery of over 120 designs from our recently launched website.
Here are some examples of Levine’s hand-tied bouquets which you can order from her website: Simply Fresh, Elegant Charm, Vintage Affair and Glamorous Fun.
Via the website, brides-to-be can also order a range of wedding flower designs in four different styles: Contemporary, Country Style, Romantic and Vintage. And each range includes bridal bouquets, buttonholes, bridesmaid bouquets and tablecentres.
Below are images from the Contemporary wedding range including bridal bouquet, tablecentre, mum’s bouquet and buttonhole.
Where do you source your flowers and foliage from?
We source our flowers and foliage from New Covent Garden Flower Market and through a specialist rose importer based in London who imports from Holland, Ecuador and Colombia. I’m always on the look-out for new varieties…
What is your most popular rose?
It’s the white rose, Avalanche. Vintage roses are also popular, such as the creamy-beige Quicksand and cream Majolica spray rose.
Could you tell us about your customer base?
The shop is very much part of the community. I get to know every one of my customers, whether they’re in love, heartbroken, happy or sad. And selling flowers inevitably means that I get caught up in people’s lives…
How do you staff your shop?
I work full-time Tuesday to Saturday and Caitlin comes in two days a week. Then, when we have weddings or events on, freelance florists come in to help.
How do you feel about your career change?
As a florist, I’m very privileged to be surrounded by beauty all the time and not to be tied to a computer.
I find making flower arrangements now feels so natural. It really doesn’t feel like work, but the hardest part is managing the finances.
I also get to make people feel happy…there’s nothing lovelier than the feeling of receiving flowers.
The job is physical and tiring, but it’s lovely when people see the beauty in what you do.
What are your plans for the future?
Over the next two to three years, I’d like to build on the amount of business being ordered via the website, using the shop as a base. And we’d love to open a shop in Paris.
What’s your favourite rose?
Many thanks to Levine for a wonderful afternoon at her shop. It was a real pleasure to meet such a lovely lady, with an absolute passion for her craft.
I highly recommend a visit to La Maison des Roses, if you’re in the Clapham Junction area. Or if you’re further afield, simply take a look at her website.
(Images : Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona/La Maison des Roses)