The Supplier Interview Series – Emerald & Jade Flowers
So today is the start of our very first edition of The Supplier Interview Series! Yay! Every other month we will be interviewing regional and national suppliers and finding out more about them individually, their business, what inspires them and lots more. For our first interview we’ve got the lovely Fiona from Emerald & Jade Flowers…
First things first, can you introduce yourself and give us an overview of Emerald and Jade please?
Hello, I’m Fiona, and I am the florist behind Emerald & Jade Flowers. I am based in Bristol, where I work from home. My clients tend to find me when they are looking for beautiful, bright flowers for their event, whether it be their wedding, funeral, or any other event requiring flowers.
How did you get into floristry?
Growing up, I was always attracted to a creative career, and being self employed. However, I grew up in France where having a career in a more secure job was considered the only way forward. I ended up following a career in law, and becoming an Employment Lawyer. I used to really enjoy my job, but for many, various reasons, eventually I stopped enjoying it, and it was taking its toll on me and my loved ones. I therefore took a career break, I did not have a plan B as such at the time, except that I really wanted to start my own business, ideally doing something more creative.
During this time, I helped my sister plan her wedding. I found her a wedding florist, and found myself asking her a lot (!!) of questions on her job, and she was amazing, she provided me a really big insight into her world. Before I knew it , I has signed up to a floristry course and I haven’t looked back since!
What is it that you love about your job? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love so many aspects of my jobs! From going to the flower market, working in a lovely industry in which many suppliers have now become my friends, being part in people’s big life events…
Also more directly, I aim to live a beautiful life. I find myself constantly trying to live a simpler life, but which remains full of beauty. Flowers to me, and nature around us for that matter, are naturally beautiful. They are also so evocative to our senses, whether by their scents, or their appearance, they can trigger so many memories and emotions.
I love being able to bring something beautiful, and natural, to people. Whether for their wedding, a funeral, or simply just because, I love the effect flowers have on people.
Many people will only ever see the end result of what suppliers do and won’t see the hard work and time that goes into what we do. Is there anything in your job that is challenging? If so, what do you do to overcome it?
As with many jobs, there are so many challenging aspects! From working on detailed quotes ensuring that your time, as well as the cost of flowers, is covered whilst offering a fair price to the customer, to the more direct challenges which include 4am wake up calls to go to the market early morning. Once I’ve been to the market, it can take several hours to condition the flowers and foliage bought, which means remove all the unnecessary leaves and trim each stem. This needs to be done before you can even start to prepare the arrangements. Then of course, you need to prepare the individual pieces required. Some can be prepared several days in advance , but some will need to be made on the morning of the wedding, such as anything that is wired so flower crowns and buttonholes for example. This is because once they’re wired, they cannot be kept in water.
Once everything is finished, wrapped in ribbons, packaged, loaded into the van, I will then personally deliver everything to the wedding venue, as well as to the bride and groom for the bouquets, buttonholes and any other item ordered for the bridal party.
The job involves many early starts, a lot of heavy lifting and rearranging. On the admin side, it is a lot of emails, quotes, emails backwards and forwards to make sure everything is just right for the client. I also work around my family, including my two young children. So that involves a lot of late nights catching up with admin where needed.
All in all, I wouldn’t say it’s easier being a florist, than it was being a full time lawyer. But florists are passionate people 🙂
Could you tell us a little more about how you work with your clients? Do you have a set process?
- I would usually receive an enquiry from a prospective client either by email or by Facebook.
- I will then ask them to complete a consultation questionnaire found on my website, which asks them for information about their wedding and their preferred flowers for the wedding, as well as their budget.
- I will prepare a secret board for each client, where we can both pin images onto it to start getting an idea on what they would like / could have for the time of year they are getting married.
- A face-to-face consultation meeting would then take place, so we can have a proper chat and bounce ideas off each other, and also to make sure that we understand each other and would like to work together.
- After meeting up, I will draft up a quote for them. If they wish to secure the wedding date, I ask for £150 booking fee, which then gets taken off the final payment.
- Once the quote has been accepted, I will finalise it as an invoice, and payment will be due at the latest 4 weeks before the wedding.
- I remain accessible to my clients throughout the length of the wedding planning, and will often have conversations with them throughout that time.
Can you tell us more about your floral style? Do you have a set style or are you open to trying different styles?
I am open to trying out different styles, which is why I love weddings: they are all so unique and different, it really allows the creative juices to get flowing! A lot of clients however come to me after seeing my website and Instagram account, where they can see that I love beautiful, bright colours. My style has been described natural, creative and fun.
As you know many couples are within a specific budget and may debate on whether to opt for fresh flowers or artificial flowers. What advice can you give couples deciding on what to do? And what are the benefits of opting for fresh flowers?
I often have people asking me about this. I personally love fresh flowers because they will also look more beautiful than artificial flowers, and also their scent can really fill up a venue beautifully. Brides will also remember flowers in their bouquet fondly, and whenever they smell a freesia or a rose for example, it will take them back to their wedding day. However, I have had brides wanting artificial flowers for various reasons: they are getting married abroad, they would like to keep the bouquet after the wedding, clients suffering from allergies…
Nowadays, you can get some truly beautiful artificial flowers. And whilst you will miss out on their beautiful scent, you can get some that feel and look amazing. I saw a King Peony artificial flower the other day, and I couldn’t believe how real it felt, and the colour was really vibrant and realistic too. However, it was £9.99 a stem (plus VAT). Many people think artificial flowers would be cheaper than real flowers, but if you want flowers that don’t look visibly fake, you are more likely going to have to pay more for them than you would for real flowers.
All in all, I would say when choosing real vs artificial flowers, it will come down to why you want artificial flowers in the first place, and whether you’re prepare to pay more for them.
Are there any other services you provide as a supplier?
I have a selection of items for hire. I am currently in the process of updating my website with the items available. I also have an online product which is template for terms and conditions for florists.
What advice can you give anyone looking to get into the wedding industry and becoming a florist?
I have never regretted my career choice. It is hard work, and I do miss the stability of a monthly salary, but I am passionate about my new job and the opportunities that have opened to me since. I would say to make sure you do your research: how many florists are in your area? There are loads where I live, but there are also a huge amount of wedding venues, so the demand is great. Think about whether you want a shop, work from home, do you want to freelance for other florists to start with? Have a look at the various courses available to you, and which one will suit you best.
Being a florist will not make rich overnight. Flowers are expensive and so you have to be careful not to overspend when you go to the market, which can be very hard. I always worked everything out when I started with my notepad and calculator before I got to the till just to keep it all in check, but temptation is strong!
Also, networking has been key for me. Meeting other suppliers in the wedding industry, but also other florists. Bristol has an incredibly range of suppliers, and I have been surprised (coming from a corporate background) at how friendly, lovely and supportive the vast majority of people I’ve met have been. Knowing fellow florists has been a life saver on more than one occasion!
Tell us 5 fun facts about you!
- I could once speak Gaelic, Spanish, Italian, French and English. These days it’s mostly French and English though.
- I have been obsessed with the colour green for as long as I can remember, wanting a green room when I was three and being obsessed with green drink (sirop de menthe)! I write this in my green kitchen, wearing my green jumper and of course my engagement ring is an emerald 😀
- All the major decisions in my life have been taken because I had a good feeling about them, heart over head every time!
- When stressed I dream about zombies… yet I love the Walking Dead and other zombie films!
- I have lived in 23 different houses before the one I currently live at… I’ve been in this house over 5 years, which is a record!
Get in touch with the lovely Fiona using one of the following: