One Flew Over: A floral feast

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One Flew Over is a London-based florist made up of Charlie and Jess; a pair of floral designers with a passion for seasonal stems and natural beauty. Working from a space in Battersea, South-West London, the twosome are perfectly located to source from New Covent Garden Flower Market, from where they source the freshest and best looking. Offering a completely bespoke service for a whole host of events, from product launches through to weddings, the pair work to create beautiful, organic and original floral designs, and are providing the floristry for this year’s Decorex VIP lounge in partnership with the New Craftsmen.

With this year’s Decorex entrance centred around the luxury of natural flowers, we caught up with the duo ahead of the show to talk all things floristry, luxury, and the future of the industry...

How did you come to be florists?

Charlie: We met at university, and after graduating we both had jobs which we had quickly fallen out of love with. I had always wanted to work for myself, and Jess had always wanted to be a florist, and so we made the choice to give it a go. I knew that I definitely didn’t want to work in an office, that I would rather freelance as a florist or be a junior in a shop than temp or do anything like that while I worked it all out. When I came to London to do a course, jess was in a similar place decision wise, and so we started to take it on as a side project. We slowly started it up, just doing friend’s weddings at cost, and then started to charge. We learnt some lessons about how to make money, (or how not to make money!), and grew the business from our living rooms.

‘One Flew Over’ is an interesting name, where did the idea come from?

Charlie: We both studied literature, so it basically came from there.

Jess: That was the cohesive factor, so we thought that was a good starting point!

Charlie: It was the first one we were willing to share with anyone, it’s great because it’s a bit flighty, a bit loose, and it doesn’t really mean anything – it just works for us. The illustrator who designed the logo for us is a friend of mine, so we had her mock one up, and then that was it!

How did you find your unique floristry style?

Charlie: When we started off we were doing projects for friends, so not big budget clients and they didn’t really have many strict parameters. It allowed us to experiment and find a style in terms of the flowers we create. We are constantly learning though, so we’re always learning.

Developing a ‘brand’ as a florist can be a challenge, how did you do it?

Jess: Because the business began as a side project, we never felt the need to have to rush a brand or a shop sign or anything like that. There was never a ‘launch’ as such. Equally there was no business plan that needed to be done for investment etc, so it was a slow burn for us which was a real luxury in itself.  I think the brand is still growing for us.

Charlie: As you develop your skills and you do more jobs you change your aesthetics a bit each time. When we started our budgets were small, as a brand aesthetic we did lots of smaller arrangements, and it was all nice, but a bit safe. As we have grown, clients’ budgets have grown, and people have approached us to do more experimental things. So our brand grows naturally because we can showcase all of this work, and give people what they want without it costing a fortune.        

Does luxury have to mean expensive?

Jess: We graduated from university in a recession, so we were very aware that when people and businesses have no money, the first things to go are the little luxuries like flowers. We always said from the beginning that we wanted it to be about being able to provide luxuries, but for everyone and at a realistically affordable price. We want to make floristry an accessible luxury.

Charlie: When we started we were very keen to try and get people the flowers they wanted without it being really expensive. To us it was quite important that this was an affordable luxury. So Decorex’s theme of future luxury is interesting to us as it was definitely a starting point.

What is the future of floristry?

Jess: I think floristry started off as such a cottage industry, and then it evolved into being so many shops everywhere. Now because of high rent, high overheads, and the lack of passing trade in high streets, it’s basically going back to being a cottage industry, with everyone doing it in whatever space they can.

Charlie: That’s the way floristry is going, unless you are a really big brand who can afford to keep a big shop looking luxurious. The kind of action that goes on behind the scenes putting things together, you don’t really want people to see that. It’s messy, its cold, and its wet. I think more and more people won’t have a shop. It’s part of the movement online.

What role does the online movement play in floristry?

Jess: We fought against things like Pinterest at the beginning. There is a big thing amongst florists that it doesn’t let people understand seasonality, and encourages an instant gratification culture. Sometimes images on Pinterest aren’t even real flowers. If someone sees an amazing picture of Peonies on Pinterest in December, they don’t necessarily understand that that’s not what is going to be in season. On the flip side of that you can’t always express an idea with words, so you do need images in that sense.

Charlie: Definitely, we would encourage clients to be on there though so that they can see other ideas and get inspiration; it’s great for establishing a mood board of their ideas for us to work around. The more info we have the better placed we are to provide the best we can.

Are there any other movements or trends which are becoming more apparent?

Charlie: There is a really interesting movement going on at the moment around British flowers, and promoting the use of British grown flowers which is brilliant. But it can be quite hard to source them in London as obviously there aren’t many growers here. We love going to the market in Covent Garden, and we love the guys that wok there. We do like having the choice to use the Dutch stuff as well though. There is a debate about whether the lorries coming over from Holland are more or less environmentally friendly than growers here using hot houses, so it can be hard to know what’s best.

Jess: Having a market in London is so important, especially as it is under so much pressure from development etc. Some of the guys have worked there for 3 generations of their family; we should support that, as well as the British growers. You can’t forget those people.

Charlie: The answer is that the market has a responsibility to bring in more British flowers. It’s hard because you have to make choice of who to support, while trying to run a business at the same time. We will never have a flower which is highly unavailable flown in from new Zealand in December, we would never request that. We would provide other choices and suggest other ides if a client requested that. Peonies at a wedding in Jan are not an option. We’ve never had a problem with saying that.

How did your involvement with Decorex come about?

Charlie: The New Craftsmen approached us to do some flowers for the space they are curating for the Decorex VIP lounge. Rather than one designer providing all of the design they are curating it with all of the makers they work with, showcasing various crafts via various pieces, so it will be a little bit different. One of the people involved makes really beautiful glass vases, so they wanted some arrangements for those, and that’s where we came in. They were looking to team up with a relatively young brand as they are champions of small British brands. When we get to do something with an event which is more creative it’s really exciting, and the brief tends to be a bit more fun with something like the new craftsmen. There is more of a process and we get to play around a bit more.

Jess: That’s true, and also with Decorex we will get to see a lot of people doing lots of different things, and that’s what makes the job so excitable. It’s being able to explore the amazing things that are going on throughout the industry in different sectors.

Join us at Decorex 2015 for more floral features including the show Entrance by Hattie Fox!