Have you ever wondered how it would be to work as a florist? In this article series, we give you a peak in the life of a florist. This week’s article features award-winning florist Emily Hepworth who runs Persephone Violet. Read on to learn more about a typical day in her picturesque flower shop.
Written by Emily Hepworth – Persephone Violet
‘We are another breed of people’
We wake up at a normal hour, like the majority of other humans that walk this earth. Thank goodness for the progress in technology and flower buying methods! We, however, are another breed of people – a crazy, busy and always passionate bunch that take each day as it comes.
The alarm sounds at 7am with an increasing ring. I throw myself out of bed for another day in the life of a florist. Each day is very different from the previous one and you just don’t know how it will go. I leave for work at 8.30am, after packing my ‘work’ bag. Which consists of what feels like a filing cabinet of paperwork and my trusty laptop that accompanies me wherever I go. The bag is always jam-packed. If ever an item is removed from the said bag it can almost be guaranteed that it’s needed that day. Getting into the shop plenty of time before it opens at 9am, I put the kettle on and gather my thoughts for the day over my first (and last!) hot cup of tea. My small and mighty team of floral elves file in. Lots happen in a short space of time to get the shop ready and open for the day.
The front of the shop is adorned with florals – plants, bouquets, bunches line the pavement outside our brightly coloured shop. This is really important, as it makes the general public stop, chat and be encouraged to take a look at a small snippet of our flower shops offering. Our door is large and always kept open (even in the coldest of times). This provides easy access to our shop: a closed door is often a barrier to customers. Whilst it keeps the warm in, our shop has no heating so door open or closed it is a chilly space in the winter months. However, don’t worry: us florists are tough people and therefore just wear lots of layers to keep the cold at bay.
‘We are often working floral miracles’
Once the outside is prettily adorned with flowers, we turn the computer on to see what the day has in store for us in terms of customer orders. We begin the day often conditioning the new flowers that come into the shop. Carefully checking over all stems, removing foliage and giving them a good drink. We make a lot of mess whilst doing this and often lose our feet amongst leafy foliage.
After all the flowers are conditioned into clean buckets (a job that most florists don’t enjoy, but a job that in our shop is completed by the owner all the way down to the Saturday girl no one gets out of bleaching buckets!) we get making bouquets and arrangements to sell in the shop or to deliver to lots of pleased recipients.
We choose out flowers from our flower bank (rearranged each day as new flowers arrive) to design with. We also cost out each design before working our magic on them to arrange a gorgeous display. Halfway through making a bouquet, the phone is bound to ring. Of course, everyone else is busy with customers. Therefore, you have to juggle a bouquet, the phone, a pen, order pad and also the card machine to be able to take an order from the customer on the phone. We are often multitasking, working on top of each other in a tight space (despite a gorgeous large shop). Besides, we are working floral miracles to pull Mr Smith out of a hole when he’s forgotten his wedding anniversary.
‘Super creativity time or super boring admin time’
We always have a laugh in the shop. Whether over cold or spilt tea (or my lack of drinking it!), bake-off results and peoples comments whilst stood in the door forgetting it is open and there is no sound barrier. Humans that aren’t florists sometimes just don’t appreciate good flowers or our skill.
Once all the orders are complete and delivered it is then the time for super creativity time or super boring admin time. I spend most of what should be my floral time on my laptop or the shop computer. Typing away at quotes, doing the accounts or catching up on emails. My little but mighty team keeps the shop ticking along while I am engrossed in lots and lots and lots of paper (regularly being disturbed by customers who wish to comment or congratulate or just have a general chit chat mid important job). I have become a big part of the Malmesbury community and often have people pop by just to chat community things. Sometimes I hide myself out the back of the shop to prevent these interruptions. But often they are welcomed mid-thought to bring me back into the real world rather than the virtual one I am working within when doing admin.
We have recently converted my hiding space away from the hustle and bustle of the shop into more shop space. We also added a consultation area for brides somewhere that makes them feel special and minimises the shop distractions. This was my idea, but this means I now have to take one afternoon a week off to head to do this work from my home office instead. The team all contribute to the creative ideas worked within the shop, mainly showcased in our two large windows at the front.
‘Our shop windows are always a talking point’
Currently, we have a gorgeous autumnal window full of concours. A large storm hit a few weeks back and my drive was covered in them! To prevent them going to waste and being crushed by the car, I spent hours collecting them. Amongst the team, we came up with a beautiful design that required the entire bag of concours and plenty of power tools (i.e. the trust Drill) to create. We have a bar in the top of one window, so nearly all window designs have suspended this side! Our shop windows are always a talking point in the town and we often get good reviews based on them!
The day always flies by here. It’s like time speeds up whilst at work and slows down when we leave. We recently moved the clock from behind us to in front of us. No one ever looks at it and we are always surprised when 5pm comes round.
We spend what seems like forever tidying up the shop. Everything has a home but rarely does it make its way back there straight after use. My dream shop is organised (which this one is until you reach the workroom!) with easy access to all things. A dream that is close to being realised maybe by 2025!
We are really lucky to work with such amazing things all day every day. The shop looks and smells rather wonderful at all times. Like I said at the start, Florists are a different breed. Lots of my small team will have a chat with the dahlias, hydrangeas or lilies often asking them to just open up! You have to be quirky to work in Persephone Violet. Our shop is full of all things different and unique along with our customers who are just the same.
Being a florist really can be the best job in the world. I think I really have a life set up here. Aged 23, I’ve run my business for 5 years now, having my lovely flower shop for nearly 2. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now. Whilst there are of course plenty of ups and some inevitable lows, the passion for flowers always pulls you through.