Hi! My name is Diane, I’m 53 years old and I own Willow Florist in the heart of Mapplewell, Yorkshire. I started floristry in 2002, working at other florists to gain as much experience as possible. I also went to college to study Floristry for a year. Throughout my childhood, I was always very artistic, but back then I learnt from peers and family members that there wasn’t any money or many career options within the arts sector.
Over the years as I’ve gotten older, I knew that I wanted a career in which I could use my creative flair as well as a fulfilling job. In 2005, I felt that I had enough knowledge to be able to open my own shop and my three children were at an age where I could commit to running a business- so it really felt like the ‘right time’.
So, I work six days a week and three of those days consist of a 5 am alarm as a trip to the market is needed. There are options to have flowers delivered, which can be helpful during very busy periods, but I like to see what flowers are available. Also, it’s a good opportunity to speak to other florists. I aim to get back to the shop at 8 am to give myself time to condition the flowers.
Once the flowers have been conditioned, it’s time to crack on with the day’s orders. I also call the driver each morning to let him know how many orders we have. Once the orders have been completed, Zoe (my colleague) and I will create lots of bouquets for the shop so any customers calling for something have plenty of options to choose from. I try and check our online shop (www.willowflorist.co.uk), emails, and social media every hour to see if any inquiries or orders have come through on that side.
Then comes making the bouquets. I like to start with colour. I select a flower and team other colours with it, along with adding different textures, which is important to get a good mixture. I also take into account the customers’ order/ preference but adding that Willow touch to it. At the moment my favourite is a Vintage bouquet. I love the rustic and romantic feel to them, just like this bouquet that was made bespoke for a customer. This style gives me more creativity, but at Willow, we have a number of bouquet styles that tailor to every customer. From our Zoe Vintage Hat Box, our Traditional Bonnie Bouquet, to our Blush Modern Bouquet and our recently added Kim K Couture Bouquet, there’s something to suit every style and colour.
Since launching our Instagram account over a year ago now, we have seen a younger audience shop with us at Willow. We know that our regular customers like styles such as Vintage, Traditional and Modern Bouquets but over the past couple of weeks we have been trialling our ‘Couture Bouquets’ and so far it’s been a great success. Our newest Couture bouquet is our Kim K Couture Bouquet, which has proven popular with our existing and new customers.
Additionally, we run small classes in the shop creating a product to a specific theme Halloween/ Christmas, etc. However, they have stopped (for now) due to the pandemic. What usually happens is guests are given all the products they will need to create their final piece. I will start the demonstration by showing the class what technique I use to start the product, guiding them as they go. We like to take a short break for a cup of tea and some nibbles so that they all feel refreshed and ready to complete their product. Once they’ve created their final piece, we like to get a team photo with them all, and then it’s time for home. Throughout the past year, we’ve had a lot of customers asking when our classes will return, which depends on the ever-changing situation.
The Florist industry in a sense has been lucky as we’ve been able to work through the majority of the lockdowns, with funeral work, etc. Weddings have been a slight challenge for us, as most weddings didn’t take place last year these have now been moved to this year and the next. This has meant that our bookings have doubled due to the backlog and we’re unfortunately unable to take any wedding bookings until 2023.
Whilst all of this is going on, I rarely take a break, I will eat or have a coffee as I’m making a bouquet. This is one of the cons of running your own business.
Another challenge when running a business is time management. Things have to be done for a certain time, orders coming in for asap. Time management can often be the most challenging thing for me. Ensuring that orders are made and ready for when customers are collecting or for the driver to deliver can often be tricky. We also have a lot of orders come in on the day, which can set you back, but prioritising your time is key.
However, what makes those challenging times better is hearing compliments from customers, it makes my job so worthwhile. It’s the little things like how they like the layout of the shop or the products we stock and our flowers always bring a little smile to my face.
Then, toward the end of each day, we look at the next day of orders to see what stock we have and what products we need to get from the market. We check the stock in the shop and replenish anything that has been sold, candles, cards, etc. We sweep and clean down all surfaces, ensuring that the shop is clean and ready for the morning after.
To find out more about Willow Florist, check out their Instagram page @willowtheflorist