#GirlBossesOfGreatBritain – The one with the big 3-0

House of Coco had more gin (always gin, what’s with the gin?!) with the gorgeous Emma Soulsby of Ladybird Flowers , talking about flowers, making up origin stories and finding your passion. FYI, Gypsophila smells like wee #justsaying.

HOC: So it’s your first year doing flowers full time…tell us how this came about?

ES: Nearly 4 years ago, I turned the big 3-0 and was working in Finance, feeling that something wasn’t quite right. So, after a lot of soul searching I volunteered at my local florist, Phillo Flowers, every Saturday for about 5 months and set up a business Facebook page. At that moment in time it was just a creative outlet, which kept my brain and heart stimulated in a different way than my 9 to 5. Being behind a desk can be soul destroying for me, I feel a bit like a caged animal, which in turn was making me restless and unhappy.

Then I attended a week intense course with Tallulah Rose, from there I received more and more orders and set up my Instagram Account. I started to get orders and followers that weren’t my friends or my family. I used to call them ‘Real Brides’ not a friend of a friend of a friend. A real person!
Last year was my first full year doing weddings and I was working full time, it was pretty full on! I decided to drop a day (at work) then, at the end of last year, I took 5 weeks out and went to South Africa. I came back to hit this brand new year, full time Ladybird Flowers!

HOC: How did your family and colleagues react to this complete change?

ES: I’ve been extremely lucky. My friends and family have been unbelievably amazing and loving, but the people I was spending the most time with at that time were my colleagues. My boss was so supportive. She knew that I wouldn’t disrespect my job but she knew I needed this creative outlet to concentrate on my work. The others at work were great, this one guy introduced me to Appear Here and I had a week long pop up in Old Street station, because of this guy going “you need to see this, this is great!”

HOC: Did you do other creative things in your career, did you always have an outlet?

ES: Not really, I knew I wanted and needed to do something but had no idea what it was. It was torture trying to find it. It’s been amazing to find something that I actually want to do, I’ve never had that before. When I got it I just grabbed hold of it and I haven’t let it go. There are times when I have doubts, like anyone, but I’ve worked so hard to get here I know it’s going to work.

HOC: How did you decide to start working with flowers?

ES: I’ve always loved the outdoors and growing things. I was getting more and more drawn to florist shops. ‘Why not?!’ , I thought , ‘it sounds lovely, let’s try it out’. That’s why I volunteered at Phillo Flowers as I do have the tendency to try something and find it’s not immediately for me. Luckily both the ‘I can do this’ and the ‘I love this’ boxes were ticked.

If it hadn’t had worked I would have tried something else as I was becoming unhappy in my life as it was. I realise now that this is what it was – I needed a creative outlet. It was something I needed to do!
When I first started I wanted a shop, my focus wasn’t on the bridal world…now I’m not interested in getting a shop and I’m fully focused on weddings! The thing I love about it is the freedom I get meeting different people and working in some amazing venues and spaces. Although having a shop would be wonderful I’m still not ready to have that commitment.

HOC: How do your customers feel about your lean business approach?

ES: Being in the bridal world you create wonderful relationships with the couples, from the start of their journey, right to the end. The journey could be years long or just a week! Normally it’s about 6-12 months. Within the service I provide on the day I also set out any additional items, such as candles, to save the couples having any unnecessary stresses. It’s wonderful knowing what the couple’s vision is and doing all I can to help on the day.

HOC: That sounds great, is this a common thing that florists do?

ES: Because I’ve taken so long to find something that makes my heart sing, I put so much love into it. I’m not taking over the wedding planner, I’m just overseeing the couple’s vision and making sure that everything is exactly as they envisioned. I just make sure my service is at the highest level and unique to every couple.

I think you can always learn from other creatives and it’s good to know who your competitors are. That said, I don’t see other florists as a competition, I see people I aspire to. In floristry there are so many unique suppliers, it’s their style the couples choose and it’s creative collaboration.
In terms of my style, I think that Mother Nature is beautiful and I don’t think we should mess with her too much. My aesthetic is like when you run through a field and skip up all the flowers – except it takes a lot of work to create that look! I like my flowers to look rustic and natural. I also like playing with textures and clashing colours, I like things to be different.

HOC: So, finally how does it feel running Ladybird Flowers full-time?

ES: It can be quite scary at times, it’s the first time I haven’t had a regular wage, It’s just me! But something I’ve learnt is I have to do something that makes my heart sing and this is it! I love my job so much, I can’t even call it a job, it’s my creative life! It’s a big ball of love!

We then continue to ramble about lilies smelling like death, swap alt fragrance tips (Bella Freud FTW!) and drool over the idea of succulents as wedding flowers. Check this lady out for all your nature loving decor!

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