Florismart florist Ana O’Kill prepares for Christmas

Ana is the dynamic force behind the Cuckoo Flower Company. Over 25 years ago, Ana was lucky enough to be accepted as a trainee florist at Selfridges, Oxford St. LondonW1. This gave her the opportunity to attend college as well as the chance to work with talented designers.  These few years have inspired her to progress in floristry from working at some of the most renowned flower shops in central London to Head Florist at hotels such as The Grosvenor House Hotel and The Mandarin Oriental where she developed her speciality in wedding and event floral design. Scroll below to read how she prepares for Christmas.

Ana O'kill
Ana O'Kill from the Cuckoo Flower Company
Ana O'kill

‘Now based in new premises in the village of Horam we have embraced a natural, aesthetic style for our designs in keeping with the style of East Sussex and surrounding areas.

We are producing a combination of traditional and more contemporary designs for Christmas in keeping with the development of the village. New, younger families are moving in and we like to move with the times yet keep other residents of the village happy.’

Ana O'kill
Designs from the Cuckoo Flower Company
Ana O'kill
Designs from the Cuckoo Flower Company

‘It’s important to stay organised and prepared for the Christmas rush. This means that preparation needs to be done well in advance: wraps made, cones, orange slices wired, ribbons made. Also buying of sundry items well in advance helps. Having a chat with the staff and make sure that everyone knows what is on offer, last ordering dates and opening/closing times is also helpful. It’s very important that part-time staff knows what has been going on in the week.

We have our own specific Christmas designs available on our website but customers aren’t limited to what is shown.’

Ana O'kill

‘We have found that plants of all one type sell well, e.g. white cyclamen, bulbs of one colour, orchids and anthuriums. We will only sell poinsettias in the last week of the run-up to Christmas as supermarkets are able to sell them so cheaply. My favourite Christmas flowers are probably amaryllis, lilies and red or white roses.

We sell a lot of add-ons, they are available via our website. We have gone for chocolates such as gin truffles and we will send wine or champagne with a gift. Candles were very difficult to source so we decided to make our own! Our candles are available for Christmas in the varieties Spiced Orange, Christmas Fireside and Frankincense & Myrrh.’

Ana O'kill
Ana O'kill

‘Over the Christmas period, we will increase awareness on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and a small amount on Twitter. We also advertise in a local village diary and in a programme of a local youth drama production.

Staff is an issue in December. I  work full-time, another 3  employees are on zero hours. We all try to make it work but it only takes one to be ill or have a poorly child and then we struggle. I give them regular days in advance, so they can plan ahead. I will do extra hours also.

We don’t deliver on Christmas Eve. Christmas deliveries will be delivered on Friday the 22nd or Saturday the 23rd which really helps with sorting routes. We don’t deliver after 4 pm as it gets dark and in a rural area, even with satellite navigation, house names are hard to find.’

Ana O'kill window

‘I love designing windows. I keep things very simple, we have a twig and pine arch inside our window with lights, gold and copper decorations hanging from, it also has a giant wreath. We have already had an order from it. I think this is one of my favourites. Our customers expect something different every few weeks. So I have already planned a Valentine’s day window.

We’re shut between Christmas and New Year. We all need a break and to spend time with our families. Previous experience has led me to believe that only if you have a massive funeral order to do it really isn’t worth it. We will be shut from the 24th of December (pm) until the 3rd of January.’

 

Feeling festive yet? Get as organised as Ana and pre-order her (or your) favourite Christmas flowers and plants.

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