Hello and Welcome to Monthly Maker. A place to discover artistic innovators and creative entrepreneurs! Every first Monday of the month I introduce new artist to my website blog to share their craft, inspirations, and aspirations. Why? To showcase the talented small business who are paving the way to success in our creative communities.
This month I am really pleased to introduce to you Alex Barton, wonderful florist and founder of Webb and Farrer! Alex and I recently bumped into each other at The Happily Ever After Wedding Fair where we were both trading, having not seen each other since school! Turns out we both have loads in common, having recently started our small creative businesses. Here is a little more about Alex and her passion for floristry:
What first inspired you to become a florist?
Having always loved gardening and art, I had a recurring daydream of having my own business but couldn’t put my finger on the exact business it would be. It wasn’t until I signed up for a Saturday flower arranging course that it dawned on me that, if I set my mind to it, this was a business path I could fall headlong down.
What is the inspiration behind Webb and Farrer?
Webb is my Grandma Jean’s maiden name and Farrer is my Grandma Olive’s maiden name. I wanted to use their names in my business name so I’d have them with me all the time and to remind me of their gardens that inspired me. In Grandma Webb’s garden I remember tottering down the garden path, underneath the apple trees that lead to the greenhouse. Grandma Farrer had such a neat and tidy garden and amazingly enough, she used to let me run around and pull up the huge rhubarb leaves to use in my dance routines.
Are you self taught or did you study your craft?
Floristry is a subject I studied at college in London, but I’ve also learnt so much from working in florist shops in Wimbledon Village and Bristol.
What first drew you towards the creative industries?
At school the subject Art never really seemed like a curriculum subject at all. Creating things completely absorbs me and whenever I make something my mind focuses entirely on the matter in hand.
What is your favourite and least favourite aspects of your creative process?
My favourite part of floristry is how each season brings new flowers to work with and a shift in the colour palette to choose from. Pinning down my favourite flower or colour is difficult because of the ever changing seasonality of flowers and foliage.
It’s so hard thinking of my least favourite aspect! Am I allowed to say admin!? If that’s not allowed then I would say it’s the way that some flowers are becoming available all year round. It’s a blessing in some ways but it does make me worry about the season becoming blurred into one big year of flower availability.
What brings you the most joy within your creative business?
I daydream about Webb & Farrer all the time so my biggest joy is being about to take action on my daydreams and make something out of them.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got lots of weddings lined up for this summer so I’m planning the designs for those and always thinking about the best seasonal flowers I can use. I’ve also just launched a fabric flower crown range on Etsy so I’ve been very busy designing and making those crowns in the last few months.
What is your best seller?
Flower wands have been really popular at weddings over the last couple of years. They’re perfect for little ones when they walk down the aisle. It’s something to distract them and for them to play with and I always use fluffy flowers to shoot from the end of the wand like fairy dust.
The Raspberry Jam on Toast Crown is my Etsy fabric flower crown best seller. It’s made up of dusky pink and red flowers, perfect for a festival or summer garden party.
Please describe your workspace, do you work from home, do you share your studio with other artists?
I work from my studio space at home. There are lots of sketches all over the place because I find that drawing is the best way to open my mind up to other creative ideas. There’s also lots of natural daylight, I always wait until the very last possible moment to turn the ‘big’ light on.
When creating your studio what were most important aspects of the space to consider?
Bouquets and flower arrangements always look much better when I make them standing up, so it’s important that my work bench is high enough for me to do this. I also have lots of jars, boxes and drawers to store away my never ending collection of pins, ribbon, tissue paper, tape, twine and wire.
If you could name one thing, what has been the biggest highlight so far in creating your own business?
Hearing how thankful people are after their weddings is so rewarding.
What would your advice be for someone who wants to turn their art into a creative business?
Start making things. I thought about my business ideas for a long time but it wasn’t until I started to create my ideas that the business cogs began to turn in motion.
What is next in the pipe-line for 2017?
I’m currently focused on wedding flowers for this summer. I’ll also have lots of fabric flower crown designs at the Paper Daisy Market on Saturday the 12th of August in the Brighthelm Centre. So I’m working on those designs at the moment and using lots of bright clashing colours.
Looking towards the end of 2017, I’m overly excited for Christmas! Christmas wreath designs are spinning around in my head and I can’t wait to create them. As Webb & Farrer Christmas wreaths are fresh, I’ll have to wait until the end of November to put my designs into solid form!
Huge thanks to Alex for taking part in this months Monthly Maker! You can find more from Webb & Farrer online here: