Guest Blog: Wild Rose Florist
In this edition of my Guest Blog series, I interview Rachael Ashton from Wild Rose which is a luxury floral design studio based in the heart of Buckinghamshire that specialises in weddings, events, brand collaborations and creative workshops.
- What is your business called and where did the idea come from?
In all honesty I don’t really know! I brainstormed and played around with a lot of variations before I settled on Wild Rose. I wanted the name to include a flower or foliage but not sound too twee or corny. I didn’t like the idea of it including my name, I wanted it to represent what I’m offering as a business. I made some lists and asked friends and family for ideas, most of which I loved, but I always came back to Wild Rose, so it stuck.
- How long has your business been running for?
3 years this year.. wow! Time has flown!
- What is your background?
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left secondary school and my grades weren’t amazing so my university course options were pretty slim. I knew I wanted to do something hands-on and practical so I chose Salon Business Management (basically beauty therapy with business). I had a similar predicament when I left uni – there were a lot of things I loved doing but felt overwhelmed trying to decide which path to take as my career. I did a couple of ski seasons and when deciding whether to do a third or not, I started researching outdoor/animal related careers. I love animals so was very tempted to become a zoo keeper, I also fancied being a gardener or landscape designer, but when I stumbled upon floristry I was hooked. I researched local courses and did a year long (one day a week) course at Berkshire College of Agriculture whilst working part time in my local pub and as a Saturday girl at my local florist. Once the course was finished I worked briefly for a florist in London then a couple more locally (couldn’t hack the commute!). Then finally I felt ready to branch out on my own and I’ve never looked back!
- What sort of services do you offer?
Primarily I’m a wedding florist but I enjoy and offer all types of floral services – occasion bouquets, funerals, workshops, dried and artificial pieces. I don’t pigeonhole myself to just one product or service because I love all of it and think it’s important for you to provide a spectrum of skills and services to your customers. That’s what I love about floristry – it’s so diverse and creative, it would be a shame to just focus on one aspect of it.
- Which type of event is the most enjoyable to work on?
I really love my weddings. I love every part of the journey – from meeting the couple and finding out their style, colour scheme, vision for the day, to viewing their venue, right through to creating the pieces and delivering them on the morning of their wedding. It’s such an important and special day in a couple’s life together, so to be part of it is really magical and a massive honour. I’m lucky to say I’ve built strong friendships with a few of my brides, so to be able to have a lasting relationship with them after the wedding is really amazing.
- Which of the fabulous locations you’ve worked at has been your favourite?
I’ve been lucky to create floral displays for a lot of gorgeous venues but one of my favourites has to be Aynhoe Park in Banbury. It’s one of the most flamboyant, regal, luxurious, over the top venues I’ve ever had the pleasure of working in. The moment you step in you get the wow factor. I’m not a huge fan of taxidermy but in each room they’ve got a huge stuffed animal – a bear with a crown that had been made into a rocking horse..bear! A white unicorn and even a floating giraffe. It’s mad but amazing!
I’m also really looking forward to working at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire next year (all being well!). I love period houses, they’re always so grand and beautifully restored and maintained. Each room feels big and wonderful and special. The more history to the building the better!
- What’s your favourite part of running your business?
As I’m sure most people would say: being my own boss! As much as I enjoyed working as part of a team and meeting life long friends, it’s so freeing to do things my way. Yes it’s stressful and I’m the one held accountable if something isn’t done on time or there’s a problem to solve! But that’s what makes it so enjoyable. I can control every aspect of my business and run it how I like. If I want to have a lie in I can! But equally I can work 15 hours a day and find joy in it because it’s not being done begrudgingly to put money in someone else’s pocket – I’m doing it because it’s business I have found for myself and I can create a piece of work that comes from the heart and I make it with pride.
- How have you had to adapt your business to cope with Coronavirus?
Sadly I wasn’t able to do all of my weddings, which was a massive hit financially but personally too, I have really missed being creative and being there for my couples. I was met with a lot of frantic emails when everything first kicked off, but thankfully I was able to navigate the craziness with a fair amount of ease. I was able to do 4 small weddings though which was great, and even better they were all for my friends which made it really special. Understandably a lot of my couples are holding out for next year, and some even pushing back to 2022 as they want the big day they’ve always dreamt of.
During the autumn and winter I had to cancel wreath workshops which was a big blow. I love interacting with my customers and I always have a great reaction when I announce the workshop dates. I had some dates pencilled in for private workshops at people’s homes but sadly they also had to be cancelled. Despite this I was absolute inundated with wreath orders – the most I’ve ever had! I haven’t totalled up properly, but I’ve made about 70 wreaths this Christmas.. my hands have taken a bit of a battering! But I am so so grateful to everyone who ordered. A lot of people have shopped local and supported small businesses this year, and especially this Christmas, which means more than they’ll ever know.
- What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a customer?
The best feedback is tears! Tears of joy I might add! I’m often met with quite a stressed and emotional bride on her wedding morning, so seeing me with her flowers often brings a few tears. It’s a really special moment. We have a huge hug (remember those!?), I’m normally pretty teary too so we laugh and I try to make sure she has a few minutes on her own to take some deep breaths and calm herself before going back into the madness of hair and makeup. It’s such a high-pressure time, so if I can offer some calm words of encouragement, a top up of champagne and a warm hug then that’s my day made.
- Where are you based and how can people contact you?