Discover how Bee changed her career path after having children. She wanted to learn something new, be challenged, grow mentally & develop a career that worked with her family more successfully.
I’m so excited that you are here for a chat with me for the Gather and Grow series. Having worked with you in the past I feel like we’re long overdue a catch up! It’s so exciting for me to be back interviewing fellow creatives – so let’s jump right in!
I’m Bridget (also known as Bee!) I’m a bespoke Wedding & Event florist with a workshop/studio space based in Cambridge.
I work with couples & individuals to create unique wedding or event flowers for their incredible special occasions!
After I had my children I wanted to use my fine art background & visual training to learn something new, be challenged, grow mentally & develop a career that worked with my family more successfully. I had historically studied for a degree in Art & Design & had worked as a curator in Museums & Galleries for 10 years previously & although I loved it, it was time to move to something new. I’m a very visually inspired person & also love nature having been immersed in the beauty of it as I was lucky enough to grow up with it all around me in the Peak District in Derbyshire! So I jumped into a few taster flower arranging courses & became hooked! I absolutely loved getting my hands on flowers & decided to study for a floristry qualification. This took me 2 years when my children were still quite young – so a lot of juggling & experience later I set up my own business & have never looked back!
A couple come to me with an enquiry for their wedding date/venue/budget/approx size of wedding/pinterest board or inspo pics of styles they like.
If I’m available on their wedding date we meet, either in person or on video/phone call, to chat around ideas/show exciting inspo pics for their styling & designs that would work within their budget and in the range of locations in their venue!
I prepare a quote with a mood board/inspiration images with pricing for each design & a total cost – to include any hired containers/glassware, delivery & installation of the designs at their venue.
If the clients like what I’ve imagined for them they pay a bookings fee deposit to hold the date. I then have a further meeting between 4 – 6 months in advance where we refine the ideas.
Final balance is paid a month before their event date and then I set about researching and ordering the flowers and foliages. I buy locally grown flowers where possible in addition to those from the Dutch markets.
In the week leading up the wedding I visit the markets and select the floral varieties. Depending on the size of the wedding, we start preparing and conditioning the flowers 2-3 days before the event. We aim to get the flowers in full bloom to show off their best qualities on the day.
We create the floral designs from tiny buttonholes to bouquets to table designs to large-scale installations. For a larger event, I employ other florists to work with me under my guidance.Its fun & empowering to work with other florists!
Very early morning of the wedding day, we carefully pack all the bouquets and designs for transportation and travel to deliver them to the venue. Installing the designs can take anything from 2-6 hours depending on the scale & complexity of the arrangements/locations. Its amazing to see it all come together in the settings!
Usually the following day, we deinstall the designs from the venue. Some couples take some of the flowers away to give to their friends and relatives to enjoy for a bit longer.
The overall styling of the wedding is created in response to our chats & explorations with images about the overall look the couple feel an affinity with. It might be styling that is whimsical, relaxed & bohemian or minimalist/more modern for example. The flower varieties I select and the way I design with them will create a particular look which will reflect my couple’s personality/personal taste & a style they feel most inspired by!
Ahh, it’s impossible to answer this really. I work on such diverse weddings & events – my favourite is usually the ones I’m planning for the upcoming year, as I’m getting all my creative juices employed, checking out the flowers & foliages on the market to conjure up the most exciting & striking arrangements that best reflect my clients!
From the very beginning, after I had completed my floristry qualification training there were challenges, new learning, things I’d never tried before, flowers I hadn’t come across, designs I’d never tried before! The learning curve was very steep. As a younger woman I used to think I had to know everything about a subject before I even started to attempt to have a go! But after I had my children (& let’s face it you are constantly busking it/being thrown in at the deep end there!!) I realised I had to be a little scared… to throw myself into the unknown in order to learn, in order to succeed and to be more resilient! It was very tough at first & pretty terrifying at times. I had spent some years just with my babies & early schoolers & I’d lost my confidence really. But, once I decided I wanted to retrain, I became so fired up by the beauty of flowers, their colours & textures & how they can transform a setting!
During the pandemic, as there were hardly any weddings or events happening – & later only very small ones – I began doing seasonal doorstep deliveries of gift bouquets (as people often wanted their mood lifting & to send something magical to a friend or relative who they weren’t able to see IRL!) Then, when events were permitted to happen, they were only very small, so some couples just had a ceremony with a very few guests. Then last year (& some now for 2023) they held their big party! There was a massive amount of admin, changing of dates/amending orders to take account of the multiple date & design changes. Some people had to postpone their event 4 times! People were often, understandably, very stressed & anxious because of all the disruption & I had to support them through this which was very complicated at times. I was so relieved & happy when I could realise all the final wedding days & give my clients the celebrations they’d wanted for so long!
When I started out, I worked from a small building attached to my house & in my utility room. As my business grew, I took on more work, became more successful & more experienced I began to out grow my spaces.
It became very tricky to squeeze all the flowers, containers, glassware, constructions/creations into my space – my work began to spread out into my kitchen & hall in order to accommodate all the designs & flowers – it wasnt unusual to have crates of flowers in the kitchen invading every surface – I’d be calling to my children, ‘mind the flowers!’ as they climbed over the arrangement to get to the cupboards to reach for a tin of baked beans!
It began to encroach too much on all the family living spaces! It became very stressful as I outgrew my work space. Then one winter when I was knee deep in so much work my mum became very ill & I had a few months of juggling work & travelling to Derbyshire to be there for her. She passed away during one of my biggest weddings of the year which was horrible & traumatic.
In the months afterwards I grappled to cope with everything, juggling the business with my family life. But, In my grief I kept to the forefront of my mind that she had told me when she was very ill that my work would help me to find a way to continue to live life without her. So I decided to have a purpose built workshop space built with some of my inheritance.
It was built at the bottom of my garden, in the place that we still had a playhouse that she had had built when our children were little. I gave the playhouse to a local primary School (mum had been a teacher) but kept the sign she had painted for the playhouse & which I now have in my workshop. Its called ‘Forget Me Knot’ Cottage. I look at it every day & think of her & feel how lucky I am to have a proper space to work in & feel so grateful to her for this & everything she did for me. It has helped me navigate this (still) different new life.
I love to hang out with my family & friends. From simple things like going for a walk along the river & enjoying a coffee with my girlfriends to going to London or the coast for lunch or dinner or to see an exhibition. For a long time I found it difficult to block out dates just for holidays & weekend breaks, but after nearly burning out a couple of times (especially in the pandemic) I’ve come to realise you can’t create properly without breaks & downtime, time to reflect & recharge. I love my job hugely but I do work in order to have greater freedoms & choices of how I spend my life outside of work!
The pandemic as above really!
Plan your business decisions, get good training/invest in a qualification in your area of work, get advice from a mentor and undertake market research about setting up in your sector. But also try not to overthink and get overwhelmed by the enormity of choice. It’s easy to develop impostor syndrome as there are so many points of comparison and people to be inspired by. Place limits on your scrolling time! As I changed direction from one career to another – I’d definitely say, you’re never too old to learn something new & have a new ambition!
Don’t listen to the nay sayers or those who are unsupportive (sadly there are always some…). Embrace those who are there for you & want you to succeed!
In my working day, I try to plan so that I can as far as possible avoid working very late into the night when making the designs. Theres always a lot to do in a short space of time – you have to ensure flowers reach their event in peak condition! I’m also standing, lifting and on my feet a lot – it’s a very physical job & very messy job so you have to take regular breaks or you run out of steam & become physically exhausted! For admin, I try to have a cut-off time for answering emails and enquiries. I’ve found, people will mostly respect these boundaries if you set them early on.
When I started this journey, I never envisaged as many and diverse people choosing me to create florals for their wedding or event. I feel very proud when people are amazed and thrilled with how my vision and work has transformed their celebration & helped bring even more warmth & happiness to their event!
I would say, yes definitely, cos it’s not just ‘playing’ with flowers (it does annoy me when people say that, as it devalues our profession – it’s frequently fun but always lots of hard work!) For a qualification, you learn the designs & techniques/methods, but also the business knowledge about buying flowers from the market, the floral varieties, pricing and the conditions that different flowers prefer. You also undertake a placement in a real life business. This is invaluable to learn tips & tricks of how succeed in creating designs & harmonious styling!
I love the variety of skills I have to use tbh. I don’t think I really have a single favourite part – from marketing my business (thinking of new ways to do this/trying to keep up with social media changes!) to chatting & getting to know new clients, researching the overall look/personality of the event, ordering & selecting the flowers to creating often multiple designs in a short amount of time (flowers do wilt & go over if you don’t condition/look after them in an informed way). I do especially love selecting the flowers from the markets & choosing new & amazing varieties! Packing up all the arrangements for travel, giving each design enough space to be stable (not really my fave part – but very necessary!) & then finally installing it at the venue. I suppose this is one of my happiest (sometimes the most exhausted times)!
But always such a thrill to hear & see how happy people are when everything come to life & transforms spaces – flowers have the power to do that – to lift you!
I’ve evolved & grown since I started my business 15 yrs ago. I take on a wide range of size & locations of venues – I love variety! As long as I keep learning & keep having fun (whilst earning a good living of course!) I’ll be here creating with blooms & sharing my expertise!
I don’t really have favourites as colour is so diverse & incredible. But, I love creating colour harmonies that are emotive of a particular mood or atmosphere, & that reflect my clients’ special celebration & are in harmony with the venue, their outfits & environment.
All seasons have their own magic – especially in the world of flowers! I love the diversity of flower varieties I get to work with in each season.
When youre running your own business – you have to have boundaries regarding your time – or you will be working constantly. Not easy to do, but essential for your mental & physical health & to preserve your creativity! Working & chatting with others in your industry is invaluable & so good for supporting each other & having chilltimes & lots of laughs!