In this article series, we give you a peak in the life of a fellow florist. This week’s article features florist Hazel Ball. She has more than 25 years of experience and is currently running her shop Velvet Brown. Read on to learn more about a typical day in her idyllic flower shop.
Written by Hazel Ball – Velvet Brown
What a treat – the alarm doesn’t go off until 6am. Gone are the days of the 3.30am alarm call. I used to truck up to London to buy flowers 2 or 3 times a week to buy the flowers for my shop. Thanks to the advancement of the florist industry we buy most of our stock online. They are then delivered straight into our shops direct from Holland. Having been in the industry for over 25 years, I forever will appreciate this service. We know precisely what we are buying as all flowers are graded. We can identify the exact quality of the flowers we are looking for.
I’m definitely a morning person so still get up early. However, those precious early hours are largely spent answering emails, ordering flowers and stock and getting on top of the social media streams. All whilst consuming copious amounts of coffee – my worst vice! We all get into work by 9 in time to open the shop and put the front out.
Farm shop site
We’ve recently moved to gorgeous new premises in 2 converted stables on a new farm shop site. There’s an artisan baker, a farm shop and café all on the same site. We now have masses of outdoor space under the natural over hang of the stable roof so putting the front out is quite a task. It’s like having a second shop outside. It’s never quite the same 2 days running, but it’s the first challenge of the day to see how creative we can be with the outside space.
The next door stable is where Archie and Agatha Sleep – 2 of the resident geese. Our landlord comes to walk them around to their daytime patch each morning before we open. It’s so funny to watch. They have great characters, but it’s not always a friendly greeting. They’re not referred to as better than guard dogs for nothing.
Flower or Flour?
If we’ve had a fresh flower delivery, we get straight onto getting our flowers into the water. We now must refer to them as Fresh flower deliveries as our neighbour in the bakers too has FLOUR deliveries and it has led to much confusion in conversations. Conditioning the flowers is a very important job and can take us much of the morning if we’ve got a lot on. We do our best to source English flowers and foliages whenever we can. We want to support English growers and offer a truly seasonal range of flowers and plants as far as possible. As a florist, I think I am very in touch with the seasons and prefer not to sell tulips in September even though we can buy them!
Building up the flower display is always a pleasant job – making it look as good as it can. It’s the first thing people see as they enter the shop, so needs to make a good impression. Then we’ll make sure all the plants are watered and displayed invitingly and properly priced. Then we can get on with the orders. Deliveries are mostly done in the mornings, so we’ll get these out on the road as soon as we can. We are lucky to be on the Oxfordhsire/Buckinghamsire borders. The views from the van can be stunning with the views across to the Chilterns and looking out over the Aylesbury Vale on our further afield deliveries.
Making arrangements, serving customers
The afternoon will involve making arrangements and bouquets for the shop and serving customers. There may be wedding work to be done or funeral pieces to be made. Otherwise, just lovely hand-tied bouquets to put together or new stock to price. If our willpower is low we are often tempted (too often!) to nip into our neighbouring bakers for an afternoon treat. Or we might pop into the farm shop to grab something for dinner that night. Around 3 o clock, we usually get a visit from the resident chickens. They are definitely free range, as they wander into the shop to see what’s on offer each day.
More than flowers and plants
We sell much more than flowers and plants. We have a beautiful selection of other gift ideas in the shop. Ranging from stylish throws, scented candles, pots galore, various planters, glass and ceramic vases, jugs and interesting decorative items for the garden and your home. Christmas is a particularly busy time for us as we transform the shop into a gorgeous sparkly festive space with luxury door wreaths, garlands, candle arrangements and Christmas decorations aplenty to feast the eyes.
The gates to the site shut at 5. So if we’re up to speed with the next day’s orders, we’ll bring the front in, put it all inside the shop neatly and shut the stable doors as we leave. It’ll look just like some stables once more.
Have a look at Hazel Ball’s designs in our Florist Finder. Go check it out!