Life of a Florist // Dawn at First Blush

I find that it is really important to connect with the suppliers that are involved with whatever occasion you are planning; so that you build a level of trust. So I have decided that I would like to share interviews that I have done with suppliers I have worked with and to give the readers of my blog an insight in to how suppliers work, as well as finding out a bit more about them personally.

When I was looking for a florist for the Phoenix styled shoot I contacted Dawn from First Blush.  I had seen her work before and had fallen in love with the way that, as well as providing the traditional floral styles, she was able break away from the norm.

I met up with her at her new workshop to talk all things flowers and weddings….

“….It doesn’t matter how many weddings you have done,

                           I always want everything to go OK…..”

florist-twisting-wire-stems

Tell me how you got into floristry?

I left school and went to Uni to do Arts & Social Sciences.  After a year I decided it wasn’t for me.  I left and worked in a jewellers as well a supermarket for quite a bit.  Michael and I decided to go travelling to Australia, Singapore and Thailand.  We stayed with some of my family in Adalade, Australia and it was while I was away I decided, “I need to do something when I get back home”.  Going away travelling was the best thing for us.  While I was away I applied for a Floristry course at Langside college and got in! It was the artistic side, as well as being hands on and creative that made me want to do it.  I came home from travelling and I think I started college the next week.  Never looked back!

Did you take inspiration from your time travelling and put that in to your floristry?

I think so, when we were away in Thailand there were some amazing things to see, but if there was more of a floral aspect, I would be like “Ooooh, look at that!” We were both working full time before we went travelling; worked so hard, saved all our money so that we didn’t need to work.  In the first month, we stayed with family and it was after then we got on the Greyhound bus and travelled up the coast.

You worked while you studied. Did you find that having a job focused you more? 

Yes.  Me and my friend Suzy both had jobs while being at college.  We both knew though, that that floristry was what we were going to do.  Right from the beginning, we were in it to learn.

lanarkshire-florist-working

Now that you have your business up and running, do you prefer your clients to be specific when they come to you or do you like it when they say to you “Go for it”?

Yeah, most people who know me, have had their wedding flowers and come back for something else they go, “just do something”, because they know what I can do.  People that who have never bought anything from me before ask more questions like “What size will that be?” and “How many flowers will be in that?” It’s not an exact science, £20 worth of flowers looks like this, but it doesn’t look like this the week after.  Things are cheaper when they are in season and more expensive when they are harder to come by.

The work I do is not your run-of-the-mill florist shop on the high street.  I quite like that because it means you’re giving that ‘something extra’ and not following the same paths as the high street shops.

Obviously there is more thought that goes in to it.  This is not an Intaflora shop where I get a catalogue and it tells me how many of each thing to put in a bouquet, what to buy in and as your seasons change, so does the catalogue.

When I do my stuff, I say “Ooh, I’ll pick this, and add a bit of that” it’s far easier than working to a list of stuff and if I’ve not got it, I’ll put something else in.

What do you think of Pinterest?

I love it! But I also hate it.  I love it because I get to see all the fab things that people are looking at, but then they come to me with all this stuff and the flowers are out of season.  Or come with big scale ideas and don’t have the budget to match.

My friend got married recently, she was a Pinterest lover and she showed me what she had found.  We started talking about archways, so we thought, “Hold on.  Let’s reign this in”, because you have to think, is it going to look good; is it actually practical?

It’s the thing that it is dreamy and lovely, and it does give people hundreds of ideas, but it takes away a wee bit of what people want their wedding to look like and their original idea.  If you know what you like, don’t keep looking for more.

In terms of special offers, is that something you do?

When it comes to everyday stuff, not really, but in terms of weddings I work alongside Laura at Ivory Tower who does stationary and event decor.  I do the flowers for her, so that is a service that she provides through her business.  But I don’t tend to offer 10% off for example because I don’t think it works.  When you offer a discount some people won’t be interested in what you have to offer and what you can do.

I didn’t advertise offers but at shows I can match certain offers.  And I still run a business so at the back of my mind, I know how much it costs and how much I need to spend on flowers.

sunflower-bouquet-arrangement

Do you get that buzz of nervous excitement when you send out the flowers for a wedding?

Oh yeah, every time! It doesn’t matter how many weddings you have done, I always want everything to go OK.  And the majority of people who have had their flowers from me will come back for other things which is really nice!

What has been your most favourite event that you have done so far?

Oooh, I would say I really liked doing my own wedding flowers.

Was it just your own bouquet you did?

No I did everything – all my tables, ceremony stuff, all the bouquets, all the buttonholes….

So, the night before your wedding was busy?!

Oh yeah, crazy! Extreme craziness (laughs), I couldn’t have had anyone else do it.  I would probably say that is the most stressed I have ever been because obviously it was my own wedding, but probably the happiest I’ve ever been in doing something, knowing it was for my own wedding! Going and getting the flowers and the van being the FULLEST it has ever seen for a wedding.

eucalyptus-plant

Is there a dream client out there that you want?

I would love someone to come along with their Pinterest ideas and have the budget to do it, and let me run with it and make a show piece of it.

It would be nice for the flowers to have the same attention as the bigger parts of a wedding?

Yeah, flowers don’t always get to be at the centre of weddings, some people don’t like them, some aren’t bothered.  And that’s fine.  That’s peoples own choice.

It’s great that you’re so versatile, but it can be really difficult to showcase all the different wedding styles; I’m waiting for the day that weddings go 80’s retro!

I can offer the traditional wedding flowers, alternative styles or super classic white roses.

I like your idea of £5 Friday (Dawn sells bunches of flowers for collection on Fridays for £5), how are you finding that?

Aww it’s awesome. It started off when I was in my house and I had a bucket of stuff left over, and I thought “What am I going to do with that?” so I put it in to a couple of bunches, put some pictures on Facebook and see what happens.  So it grew arms and legs from there!  Some weeks I’m too busy with weddings through the summer that I didn’t have the time to do it is up to me whether I do it or not, but it’s great.

Tell me about the services that you provide?

I do flowers for all occasions, so weddings as well as funerals.  I also provide flowers to the Alona hotel (Strathclyde Park) where flowers are incorporated in their wedding package; it’s like a generic top table display that can be used in their ceremony, and then moved to the top table but they have given a lot of business over the year.

lanarkkshire-florist-arranging-flowers-bouquet

So what areas of the UK do you cover?

I’ll pretty much go everywhere, although there is a small delivery charge! The furthest I’ve so far is to Arran; but I don’t have a specific area.  I would love to go further to like the Isle of Skye, but I’ll go anywhere.

What advice would you give to Brides when looking for a florist?

I think you really have to like and understand the florist and feeling like they know where you’re coming from.  There has to be a lot of trust there and I can’t just mock up everything that’s going to be there on the day.  They have to have vision of what they are looking for so that on the day they are happy with what they get.  You’ve got to make sure that the florist has a good knowledge of flowers and seasons because sometimes the flowers might be out of season.  Cost is also a big thing.  I always try to tell people that each wedding is costed individually flower prices go up and down and give a clear idea of budget.

What trends are you seeing?

I’m seeing a bit more of bridesmaids in different colours, where maybe the flowers will be block colours.  I’d love to see different colours and textures.  And neutral colours.  I have some coming up that have the bridesmaids in white, which excites me because it is different!

Do you source locally?

My main buy comes straight from Holland.  I have been using my supplier for so long, that he knows what I like and doesn’t try to sell me carnations.  Sometimes he will tempt me with strange variations and I have to buy it.  But I trust my supplier and I know that they are reliable, and the quality of the product is excellent.

lanarkshire-florist-cutting-stems

Finally, what is your favourite flower?

I love roses, but my favourite flower – which is just about to come in to season shortly – is called Ranunculus, which looks a bit like a rose.  So you’ll be seeing it in the £5 Friday very soon!

Thanks to Dawn for chatting to me.  She is a great florist and I can certainly say, her flowers are stunning.  If you wanted to get in touch with her for any flowers that you might need, you can find all her details on her website.

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