Student Stories

Florist – Emerald and Jade Flowers

Fiona Lafon

Which course did you study at Tallulah Rose and when?
I studied the four week career change course back in April/May 2015.

What did you most enjoy about the course?
Learning something new, meeting amazing people. But more than that… I had recently left my job as a lawyer, as I was keen to find an alternative career, and run my own business. On my course, I think I was the only person who hadn’t already studied or worked with flowers in one way or another. Even though I was comfortable with the business side of things, I did worry about whether my creativity would step up enough. Throughout the course, I felt as though I was coming undone, to then be made up again. It sounds dramatic but ultimately, it’s exactly what I needed back then, and I haven’t looked back since!

I absolutely loved those four weeks! Driving to Bath, walking into the school filled with gorgeous flowers and props. Everyone there was so incredibly welcoming and I’m in touch with many of the students I did the course with. The Facebook student group is also an amazing safe haven, where any question can be asked knowing that everyone there has a similar background to yourself and faces the same things.

It still amazes me just how much we learnt on the course, and where things have gone from there after just four weeks!

What was the most important thing that you learnt during your time at school?

Believe in yourself, and trust yourself. Have confidence that you can achieve great things for yourself. The course was the start of finding myself, and finding a way to be myself, both in the work I do but also in my personal life.

What was your first big break?
I was a regional finalist in The Wedding Industry Awards last year. Reading the feedback I’d received from my brides in my first year of business leading up to this was amazing, and made me so happy.

I have also created some great bonds with other suppliers which have led to many incredible photo shoots as well as wedding referrals. I feel incredibly lucky that all this is now “work”!

What are you doing now?
I have started my 3rd year of business, and I am taking the time to reflect on what I’ve achieved so far, and where I want to take the business to next. A lot has happened over the last few months: I have moved to premises which meant I was able to move everything work related out of the house, I have started doing workshops and I have narrowed down further the style of work I like best. My youngest has also now started school so I finally have a little time to sit down, breathe and plan out the future in more detail.
This wedding season has been amazing, where I worked on three times the amount of weddings I did last year. I now want to focus on how to make the next season even better!

Describe a typical floristry day?
Working on events means that my days vary quite a lot from one to the another.

When I have an event, I will try and get to the market as soon as it opens. I am lucky that I live just a few minutes away so I don’t have to get up toooo early for it. The flower market is one of my main happy places. The staff are so lovely, there are so many flowers to choose from. I love finding flowers I’ve never seen before, finding new textures, seeing beautiful colours and visualising the arrangements coming together. I work in a visual way so choosing the flowers myself on the day really helps.

I then often have freelancers come and help me with conditioning and arranging. I love working with freelancers, it means actually having someone to work alongside with and talk to, and really makes the work go a lot quicker.

Floristry is hard work, from the early starts on market day, hours spent conditioning the flowers bought, a lot (!) of admin in the background and working out all the logistics of delivery and setting up, all whilst making sure you’re making money out of it all too. When you work for yourself you also need to constantly be pushing yourself forward and finding new opportunities. I also work around my two young children, and my husband often works weekends. With no family around, it means having to plan our calendars like a military operation! But having said that, it definitely beats the 9-5 office job I used to have and I don’t think I could ever go back to that now!

What’s been your highlight to date?
Realising what has been achieved to date. Whether it be a wedding, funeral flowers, or running a workshop, or being onset a photoshoot and seeing the vision we had all come together, it’s amazing.

Also, I’m not a very traditional person by nature. And although I have struggled this at times (worrying I should be doing what most florists are doing in terms of trends, style etc…), finding my style has been incredible, especially when people recognise my work or comment on it in favourably.

But more than that, my highlight has been realising that I’ve found a career which is also a lifestyle. It works for me, for my family. I started off my business with the tagline “Live a beautiful life”, and over the years, “live a beautiful life” has taken over everything else in my life, opening new doors, new opportunities, and allowing me to make peace with myself.

What advice would you give to a new student starting out?
Find out what makes you happy and gets you excited, and follow it with all your heart!

Talk to people about it, say yes to opportunities even though you might be scared.

And make friends with other florists, this has been a real life line for me. Working with other florists, using the online forum, telling them you love their work/style/arrangement, the industry is filled with amazing people who love what you love.

Never stop learning. Stay curious and keep experimenting. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and when things don’t work out, learn from it and move on quickly, don’t dwell on it too long.

Finally, don’t be afraid to do things a little differently, and to put your skills from a previous life into good use. I used my business skills to create a set of online templates, available in my online shop to help florists with their business.