Student Stories

Florist – Wilde Thyme

Clara Barthorp

Which course did you study at Tallulah Rose and when?
October 2013. I had a tight schedule and none of the dates for the career courses fitted in with my commitments but brilliantly Rachel agreed that I could do a one to one course and that with some hard work we would be able cover it all in three weeks. As it turned out, I shared the course with another fabulous lady who flew over from South Africa. I have also done the Advanced Skills in Oct 2015

What did you most enjoy about the course?
I did a weekly commute back to my daughters in Jersey who were being looked after by family and friends, but each week and every day I was in the school room was like walking into a time capsule of flowery loveliness. There was no pressure or demands from the outside world and for the first time in very many years I just enjoyed time for learning and being in a cocoon of heavenly floral fun. Having spent many years missing painting (something I still yearn to get back into) I enjoyed the feeling that at last I was painting, albeit with flowers. The excitement of mixing colour palettes, textures and design still totally thrills me each day I am in my studio.

What was the most important thing that you learnt during your time at school?
Obviously there is the technical side of things, but as with all things in life the learning process never ceases – enjoy that process and seek more. And that the Tallulah Rose Forum is a wonderful nurturing group to be lucky enough to belong to.

What was your first big break?
Three months after completing the course was the first big wedding fair that I did. Incredibly one girl booked me there and then and although the wedding wasn’t for another 8 months, that wedding was featured in Rock My Wedding Blog – a tremendous boost to my confidence

However, the first wedding I actually did was the biggest baptism of fire. I was given three months, not just to design and style the wedding but to organise it, including all details such as all stationery. It was a large event, a big church in need of decorating and a marquee with the surrounding outside area that also required styling. Three different table arrangements over the fifteen tables and a long “Princess Diana “style bouquet…..(one thing we had not covered was the wired bouquet!) YIKES, it ended up being an all nighter and took three hours to build the bouquet – nervous sweating fingers meant for a challenging time when trying to tape the wires. Friends were amazing and flocked to my help, I was always mindful that I was given a huge opportunity and the bride was taking a huge risk! Luckily she has invited me back to decorate her new home at Christmas and her husband recommended me to a friend of his, so it was all good in the end!

What are you doing now?
I work from home as I am a single mother with three children. That has its pros and cons like everything, especially as it makes marketing harder. But it does however, suit my home demands, I have built myself a beautiful studio in the garden from which to work, and the children’s old play room has become my office. I primarily focus on weddings and private events but really enjoy and am always honoured to do sympathy work. I run workshops at Christmas and throughout the year, and love doing private house work. From decorating their homes at Christmas and regular flower arrangements to flowering them up for their parties or dinners. Oh, and spending a lot of time wishing I had so many beautiful flowers gracing the corners and tables of my home!

Describe a typical floristry day?
Being a typical Gemini with a high boredom threshold I am delighted to say there is no typical day for me as it varies throughout the week and from season to season. If I am not in my studio in full making mode which usually happens towards the end of the week, I am at my desk doing the admin and running the business. The making and physical creating takes up such a small proportion of time by comparison to the actual running the business side of life, ordering, sourcing, talking to suppliers, in UK and over here in Jersey.

What’s been your highlight to date?
I know that when the joy and thrill of opening my boxes of flowers or going to the growers here and returning with armfuls of produce is no longer there, that is the time to hang up my scissors, so that delight, is an ongoing highlight. Another deep and wonderful joy is being part of the extraordinary flower community. My personal life has become richer from all the many extraordinary flowery folk I have met over the past few years

What advice would you give to a new student starting out?
You are in the right school. Be prepared for a steep learning curve and yes you will learn the flower names quicker than you think!!!

Click on the following link to read more about Clara and her business Wilde Thyme