It’s been nearly two months since my last blog, so much for regular blogs to keep people interested. I have resigned myself to the fact I’m not a lover of routine or a great one for discipline so writing something every day was never going to happen and quite frankly I’m not sure I could find something interesting to say every day! So apart from a lack of discipline what’s stopping me or more to the point what the heck has been going on for the last two months!? Well I went back to work in my lovely shop but in a whole new way. The government allowed florists to take orders over the phone or through the website but must be behind closed doors so that’s what we have been doing. Who are we? Julie, Trevor, and me. Carol is beavering away at home on my book-keeping, Sam will be back when Saturday's fully resume but still maintains the post of artistic inspiration and of course Mr D, always there for moral support, deliveries during busy times and pasties when required. A merry little band of Bluebells working in a different way in this next stage of evolution. Trevor and Mr Chunks (chocolate lab) are Logistics (deliveries), Julie – Customer Service (taking the all important orders), and me, well I’m back being a florist, and I love it! Before lockdown I spent most of my time at my desk sorting paperwork, doing accounts, planning, social media or doing deliveries and not enough floristry! I have to say it was getting me down and I had lost a little love for what was my dream. Since being back it’s been fantastic – I order and work with beautiful flowers and I totally love creating every single bouquet and design and every single one is different and unique – I just couldn’t design off a sheet. Every bouquet and every funeral tribute that goes out I have total control over, every piece of wrapping I decide on. I send them out every day with Trevor with the strict understanding to look after my babies – because they really are. Julie’s priority is to take the orders and bring in the sales and what a great job she is doing, it has been so busy, this side needed focus and Julie does this. She is also keeping her hand in with the floristry, especially when the Feel Good Friday’s need to go out (more about that in a bit). Having Trevor doing all the deliveries for us, instead of me doing it, is an absolute life saver and he delivers everyone with a smile and chat and of course safely, and this he takes extremely seriously.
During these 6 weeks it has been busy, so many people wanting to send flowers to people they couldn’t see, send flowers to say Thank you for doing my shopping etc. The phone didn’t stop ringing and our website has come up trumps – easy to use for our customers 24hours. We started the Feel Good Friday bunches, a £15 bunch of flowers, delivered for free on a Friday. Oh my goodness I would say we have sent out over 150 of these and Trevor has said that when he delivers them it’s a joy – they are just not expected and so people are so surprised and thrilled to receive them – these have definitely brought so many smiles to people during this tough time.
Last Monday we finally opened our doors to our lovely customers again. We were a little nervous and we can see so are a lot of people. We have had to change the way we operate between ourselves, with the way we interact with our customers. It’s starting to get busier in terms of people coming into the shop, tempted by our new range of fabulous plants and gifts. New display tables, new signs.
During this time we also hit a fantastic milestone of reaching over 3000 followers on Facebook! Amazing to image so many people keeping watch and supporting us.
We have evolved. I have no doubt that over the coming months we will evolve again depending what happens. We don’t know whether it will get busier or just die down again when people go back to work. Whatever, we will keep finding different ways to move forward and continue to bring happiness to people through flowers.
I personally have to say I am so thankful and genuinely grateful that people have come to us during this time – you have kept us going – thank you for choosing local, thank you for choosing us xxx
rI love creating a brides bouquet - from inception to delivery, it’s a mosaic of ideas brought into one final beautiful piece.
The bride to be, very rarely the groom – but when they are involved they are really involved, will start to think about the flowers. They may have a favourite flower, or one that’s special to someone passed, a touch of rosemary for remembrance, or a dahlia as grandad had it on his allotment; they may love romantic roses, or luscious peonies or pretty wildflowers. The colour needs consideration – the bridesmaid’s dresses have usually been chosen by this stage and that can drive the colour theme of the flowers, you have to remember the dresses have been chosen because the colour is often a favourite of the bride’s. Recently some brides are leaning towards the no-colour look – greens, maybe with a touch of white, a natural more textured foliage bouquet with minimal flower others will want a vibrant wow factor mix of colours! Some will be swayed by the season of the wedding – I loved the Halloween theme – pumpkins and sunflowers; a touch of burgundy to add warmth to a winter wedding, pretty hand-tieds full of tiny sweet smelling springtime delights. Then we need to think about the shape and size of the bouquet – a petite hand-tied bouquet like Megans, or perhaps a shower bouquet like the massive statement of Diana’s or the boho wild just picked that you’d image the “flake” girl to be holding. This can be decided based on height – no shower for a shorter physic; by personality – small understated, or wild and out there. It’s very always uniquely personal.
Once you have gleaned all this information then you can get creative! What flowers will work in that season, what mix of flower shapes and colours will create this wonderful bouquet that will be part of their marriage history. The flowers, I believe, are the second most important decision, behind the dress, they help paint a picture of each part of the day, in the church or venue, at the entrance, when you sign the register; at the top table, the bouquet will be part of most the photos to look back on and remember.
Once you have created the bouquet, as a florist you go through a few emotional stages, you love it – you know it’s perfect – you’ve listened to what your bride wants so you know it’s right, the flowers look and smell gorgeous – you are happy. Then you are on the way to deliver it – the doubts set in – what if she doesn’t like it! Perhaps it’s too big, too little, not enough pink, should’ve used a different rose, your stomach churns and you worry. Then you arrive and forget all of these doubts – you enter a happy positive place and the bride and her bridesmaids are always delighted to see you – the flowers arriving are almost the first thing of the day that makes it all seem real. They love their flowers – because they are theirs – uniquely theirs! Have a look at our video when we delivered Jess’s bouquet and you will see what I mean.
Why did brides start holding a bouquet? The history can be traced back to medieval times when sweet smelling flowers and herbs were used as a symbol of innocence and fertility and perhaps a little to cover other smells! I love the origin of throwing the bouquet – apparently the bride was seen as lucky, as she was getting married and all the single girls wanted to touch her to get some of this luckiness for themselves so the bride would throw her bouquet in an effort to get them away from her! The bouquet is still, if the bride is happy to part with their treasured bouquet, thrown and the lucky catcher is likely to be the next to get married.
What is fascinating to me are what bouquets have looked like through the last hundred years – I love to see old photos to see their bouquets – the shape, size the flowers. I’m personally a fan of the big bouquets and my goodness during the 1920-40s they sure did have some big statement bouquets. If you have any of your families weddings I would absolutely love to see them.
So where are we today with weddings with COVID19 in our lives? Many couples are having to postpone their weddings until later this year or next year. My heart goes out to them, they have been planning this for so long – but maybe waiting will mean they have the actual wedding they have dreamed off.
I wonder if weddings will be different in the future – will couples think differently about their big day, will certain things be less or more important, will the bridal bouquets be different – I would love to hear what you think?
Let me know if you have read the blog and please let me know what you think, either here or on the fb page. Please stay safe xx
I started this week off a little low - I had plenty of things to do in the house, painting fences, gardening - you know - all the things you never have time to do and now you have some you still don't want to do all of them - my clothes cupboard will be one still not done! I was lucky to have the time but somehow I still felt low, then guilty for feeling so. But all changed the next day! I started to get phone calls from people wanting to send flowers to those who had lost a loved one, because they couldn't go to see them or worse couldn't go to the funeral. I had calls from funeral directors asking if we could help families have some flowers to help them say goodbye, even if they could only have 5 or worse 2 people at the service - heart-breaking. I had calls from people wanting to send flowers to their mum or friend who had been in self-isolation for over a month and just wanted to make them smile. I had just delivered some flowers to a lady one morning and I admired the Alpaca she had in the garden - yes I did say that!. She called me that afternoon to ask if I could help, She had had to order a funeral tribute for her Mum's funeral off the internet and it had arrived and it really upset her as the quality was so poor.- she really wanted some special flowers for her Mum from her and her family and from her Mum's Alpacas :)
I realised that day the reason I was low at the beginning of the week was because I had lost hold of my purpose. We all need a purpose, something to get up for in the morning and each of us will be completely different in what that is. I'm a doer and need to be doing something, need to be busy, but I also need to be doing something worthwhile and that's when I realised why I felt energised and positive after receiving these calls. I was needed for something important to each person, they needed flowers to make other people smile or to help them get through a tough time.
One of my previous blogs said I wasn't going to do deliveries, other than for funeral flowers, during lock-down. These calls made me realise I had to back down from this moral stance. As long as I take every precaution with the flowers I receive, how I handle them during design and most importantly during the no-contact delivery and try to limit the amount of times I go out on deliveries, helping people share a bit of happiness has to be the right thing - so again a lesson in managing your own business - its ok to change your decision if you are happy to put your hands up to it and to do it for the right reasons. So now we will be available for a no-contact delivery service for bouquets, indoor plants and our hessian bunches. We will need to put in place a pre-order system to tie in with the less frequent flower delivery service and have fewer designs, nonetheless lovely. We will see how it goes but I'm so grateful for all the support I have from all our customers, friends, family and my lovely husband Ricki (he told me I had to put him in here this week lol)
Also this week I decided I ought to learn about Blogging so started a free online course available from www.problogger.com and one of the first questions was Why do you want to set up a Blog - what will its purpose be? Mmm good question! I set it up because the life of a florist is actually a very interesting one. You met so many people with interesting stories, there are so many skills and knowledge needed being a florist as well as a small business owner - I'm still learning but I love to share - if people are interested. I had started writing a book sometime ago and enjoyed it so thought maybe I'd have a go. I have to say that was as far as my thinking went. It seems just like floristry, blogging has a lot to it! Today I thought I would google "What is the definition of a Blog" - A blog is short for web log, an on-line journal, where you share opinions, stories, photos and videos, it helps send traffic to your website and I think my favourite part is - it connects you with a relevant audience. I'm going to carrying on learning about blogging and hope I can make your experience as good as it can be. It would also help me so much to know you have read what I write, let me know what you think, any improvements and if there is anything you'd like to hear about. I know it can be tricky to leave a message on the actual blog but if you came through a fb link leave a comment or like on there for me - Thank you for helping me with my purpose and giving me some energy back - Stay safe and well xx
In this time of isolation we have all started to realise how important having face to face contact with people is, especially when you can't have it! Yes we are being creative and face-timing, zooming, phoning, texting but a proper face to face conversation or a smile and hello - you just can't beat it. I definitely am missing the people that come into the shop and certain people have become part of my shop family. I know that my energy comes from being with people and when I'm stuck in front of a computer I can feel my energy sap - this is why I had to open a shop rather than become a studio florist and I would like to tell you about a few of the people that have come into my life purely as a consequence of having the shop and I feel blessed because of it.
The first person who became part of the Bluebell Wood family was Andy. Andy had had a stroke and used to go passed the shop twice a week to go to the hospital for physio - this walk would take it out of him and so he would pop in for a rest and a chat. A stool and a cup of coffee and company for both of us, it was early days for me and very quiet in the shop. Andy has become a friend and also a weekly supplier of eggs to the shop so now known as Andy the Egg Man, even to him. Next I have to tell you about Mr Chunks - a wonderful chocolate lab who again walks passed the shop everyday with Trevor and pops in for a treat but more so that dog makes me so happy, never fails to bring a smile to my face and a feeling of love when he bounds through the door and gives me a hug, or perhaps I give him one! I had a chocolate lab called Dexter who I lost a year before the shop opened and I’m sure he has sent Mr Chunks for a cuddle every day. Because of this dog’s love I have also gained a fabulous friend and now a delivery driver in Trevor. I am also very blessed with many regular customers, all of which have their own stories and background, a few to mention today: Mr Dixon an ex Tewkesbury school history teacher, he used to frighten Jess to death to start when, with his strict to the point school master way, an absolutely softy, who came in weekly for plant gifts for others and wanted to support us. He was so proud of Jess the apprentice and me for keeping her on after she achieved it. This man is a huge part of keeping Tewkesbury's history alive - much respect! Elaine from down the road who loves our English eucalyptus, our emergency response police woman who treats herself to flowers on her down time. Jordan who loves to come and hand pick flowers for his girlfriend. Maria who always pops in to say hi and say how much she loves our windows. Our virtual customers/supports: Andy S - always first to like a post, Linda a constant top fan - so very many that I am sure to mention in future blogs. Our Barton Street neighbours who have supported us from the day we started either by having flower teacups in their tearoom, window arrangement for their salon, lilies for their desk or just to pop in for a chat and keep morale up – especially during the floods etc.
The need for flowers bring people in for many reasons - couples wanted to plan for their weddings, partners wanting to treat their loved ones and families wanting flowers to say goodbye to those they have lost. When it comes to bereavement flowers I am in constant admiration of those who make the difficult journey to come out of their homes to the shop to organise flowers for their loved ones funeral, such a difficult time and often their minds are so full of things to organise as well as trying to deal with their grief but flowers are their last goodbye and it is so important to them. Your job as a florist is to help them get through this task in the most caring and efficient way you can. This is important and you have to use all your skills to get this right for them and not to let your own emotions get in the way – it’s hard enough for them as it is. One lady, Jenny, who I now count as a dear friend, came into the shop. Eight months pregnant with twins - she told me one of the twins had lost its life and she was wanting to prepare to say goodbye to the one baby when she would be saying hello to her new born baby. Jenny was graceful, calm, smiling and just wanted me to create a lovely farewell gesture – a flower bumble bee! When she left I cried, it broke my heart for her loss but I will never forget her bravery on that day. Every year I make a flower bumble bee for her little one. She remains one of the strongest ladies I know - she is also a nurse due to work in the new Tewkesbury covid19 ward!
These are just a few of the many people and their stories I have been blessed to have met through the shop and they have become part of the Bluebell Wood family, I miss them as I am sure you all miss those important to you but am so looking forward to seeing them again when it is safe and until that time will try and keep in touch in the virtual ways. Stay safe everyone.
When I opened the shop nearly 4 years ago I had no retail business understanding, yes I had 35 years experience working in Severn Trent Water, mostly in Human Resources. I have a lot of experience with people, helping develop procedures to set parameters, working with leaders to help them give clear direction and set the moral code for the business... I had no idea about running a Flower Shop! Mmm some would say naïve, some would say brave - my husband would say "You are having a go - fair play". I didn't know about accounting, margins, promotion/advertising, I still had a lot to learn about floristry - but it was my dream and I had to try. One of the first real things I learnt was that I was the one making all the decisions, I had been used to being told what to do - in the main. I first thought that I had to look around and do what other florist shops were doing, make bouquets and designs others made, it did helped me to understand what was happening but in the end I told myself "its your business you are the one that has to live with your decisions - have faith in yourself do what is right for you. So where is this leading? With Covid19 I made a really big decision to close the shop, that was a tough one - at that point the government weren't saying that flower shops were non essential, I decided it was the safest thing for my team and my customers - the right decision. Over the last week or so I have been asking myself how I am going to either keep the business going or what it will look like when it reopens. One of the ideas was to restart offering flowers on-line now with a non-contact delivery service. I could see all the big flower companies like Interflora, Freddies Flowers and many independent florist shops were offering this service. I have researched and found I can get hold of flowers, either direct from Holland or local growers. The British Florist Association have issued guidance to say you can offer an on-line service. So it is allowed and I'm sure I could make it work as a way of continuing a service to my customers. Then comes the moral dilemma - should I? Yesterday I thought I could for all the reasons above. This morning I woke up knowing I shouldn't, amazing how you mull things over in your sleep. How can delivering flowers whilst in a lockdown be essential? I know flowers make you smile and help with your well-being but in the scheme of things - is delivering bouquets essential? Also what happens if I have an accident in my van and end up in hospital - is that helping the NHS - no. I know so many florists and other small businesses owners are finding it so very hard to survive and struggling terribly and everyone will do and should do what is exactly what is right for them, making hard decisions that are right for them - no judgements here and I mean that truly. My decision as the business owner of Bluebell Wood Florist is that I will continue to help bereaved families if they need me and I will continue to help couples with rearranging and planning their weddings, I wont be offering an online bouquet delivery service until we are out of lockdown and I will continue to look at my future options.. This is the right decision for me - and it is my decision. Thank you for your continued support - it really does me a lot. Stay safe
If you are lucky enough to be able to go out for your daily exercise you cannot help but notice the beauty of the natural world around us. It struck me that nature hasn't changed, people and their behaviours have had to because of this dreadful virus, but mother nature has given us a beauty to hang on to and appreciate. Ever since I was a child I have loved being outside and finding flowers to take home to Mum, we lived by the old disused railway line in Tewkesbury so that was, and still is, "my happy place". I could find sweet smelling buddleia, surrounded by peacock and cabbage white butterflies, wild sweetpeas rambling through the blackberry bushes and if I was lucky tiny violets hiding amongst the woods. Foraging! It has to be said I love it. Of course there are rules - don't take anything that is protected, like Bluebells, don't take from anyone's gardens or parks but hedgerows, overgrown waste area, then I say its fair game to take a few items home. Today we walked along the river and where the river rose during the floods it left a tide mark in the bowl of a field and in that tidemark was a veritable treasure of bleached drift wood and bark, perfect recycling material - some will go in the garden some will become part of an arrangement. To team up with these I added a few small branches of blossoming hawthorn (I think). The delicate white flower teamed perfectly with the white and browns of the different woods - gorgeously simple. I believe as going out is becoming so precious we will open our eyes wider and our ears will become more attuned to the gloriousness of what is unfurling around us and to hear the birds that keep singing their pretty tunes to us. I've been so inspired by what I see and am starting to create a "Back to Nature" collection - I feel I'm taking a ride upwards on the rollercoaster today and am contented in my "happy place".
I'm sat in my empty shop in front of a computer because I need to. I need to say out loud how things are right now as a Florist during this terrible time of Corona Virus. A human being going through this scary time when you are so fearful for your family, friends and the country and the future. Also a small business owner, like so many, who have seen their work, their passion, their team, their customers just disappear overnight. A roller coaster of emotion: the day I closed the shop, after a very strange but still lovely Mothers Day week started the first dip. On the Sunday morning I knew the right thing to do for my team and my customers was to close the shop - no risk to be had! I was alone in the shop late morning when Ricki and Trevor were out delivering and all bouquets had been collected, safely. All stock had been sold - miraculously and I stood in my beautiful, empty shop and cried. Yes a very selfish cry, a cry for my loss, the business I had built from nothing to one that was doing well. The loss of Jess the person who had been with me for most of the time, from Apprentice to Shop Manager and friend, the loss of all of the wonderful team who work in the shop or with me, the loss of my lovely customers and shop friends and the loss of the flowers and being able to create with them. Funny thinking about it now I stood in a shop as empty as the brand new one I started with back on the 1 October 2016 - full circle. As I stood there Jo another florist walked through the door and asked how I was - she knew, as she was feeling the exact same feelings. We both knew this was much bigger than us and knew our sadness was selfish but gave each other permission to do so just for that day. I have watched and listened to the floristry industry over the last few weeks and the devastation that has occurred has been astonishing. Seeing tonnes and tonnes of flowers destroyed at Aalsmeer, Holland as growers sent flowers to auction and they couldn't be sold. So growers businesses hit, the auction and distributors, wholesalers and then the many floristry businesses. Shops closing as non-essential - no income to pay the outgoings - waiting daily to see how the government will help - and they have to a degree. Couples postponing their weddings they have planned and dreamt about for so long, grieving families unable to say goodbye to their loved ones in they way they would have wanted to - it breaks your heart. Two weeks of thoughts, of worry, of sadness, of fear are now turning into seeds of hope. My brain is starting to function a little - I have always looked forward and now I want to plan, I want to hope and believe we will get through this stronger so I have to plan for the future. I always say in the shop Adversity drives Creativity and this has been so true with many businesses I have seen since this has happened and I am going to keep creating and looking for new ways to brings flowers back into peoples lives as they may be seen as a luxury but they make people smile and feel great and that's what we need right now. Im going to keep looking forward :)