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Lessons in Yorkshire’s Leafy Couture: Florist Interview

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Sarah Richardson is a Yorkshire-based florist whose passion for flowers is so infectious that her school and mentoring service has earned her praise from wedding planners and florists alike, and with students from as far away as New Zealand plus a book in the pipeline we thought we’d find out a little more about life at Leafy Couture.

When I started out I was looking for a creative outlet, so when someone bought me a huge bunch of flowers it just clicked. I fell in love with all the gorgeous textures and blooms,” says Sarah on her first taste of floristry.

I had just finished a sociology degree and was a little lost… It prepared me for everything and nothing. I grew up in a household which was really creative and artsy and had art teachers as parents so it was inevitable that I would end up doing something creative.

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James Meila Photographers

I looked for college courses and then got a job in a local florist. After a few years working for a few different shops I set up my own wedding business because I wanted to develop my own style and work primarily in weddings. We have been doing them for nine years now with budgets from £500 to £25,000 so it’s a very varied and creative job.”

Along with its established wedding business, Leafy Couture now also sees Sarah tutor florists and beginners in all things from weddings and events to seasonal hand-tieds and serious luxury. All classes take place in the Chilli Barn, Otley, a real wedding venue where students can get a genuine insight into working on site.

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After years of experience Sarah shares advice on the full wedding package from floral styling and specialist wiring techniques to quotes, logistics, business and social media. All students also benefit from a free Skype or phone mentoring session a month after the course as continued support.

We asked Sarah what prompted her to share her knowledge, she recalls, “I have always run Christmas and seasonal workshops and I’ve also taught up to Level 3 in BTEC Floristry at college. I left college teaching as we became too busy with weddings and I was tired of the paperwork constraints. So I set up the Leafy flower school because I love seeing people develop and grow and I now have a great team of florists who support the wedding and admin side of the business.”

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James Meila Photographers

When it comes to learning, the Leafy lessons are all about encouraging your inner florist stardom, “The biggest barrier is confidence and it’s incredible to help people achieve something they’re afraid of or need a helping hand with.”

I love the mentoring side of the business because having worked for myself for the last nine years I’ve learnt so much and want to share it with others. I’ve found that a lot of florists work by themselves and have no one for reference or advice other than family, and often they are afraid to speak to other florists around them. I have already seen changes and confidence boosted in florists I mentor and it’s such a thrill.”

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With a thriving wedding business and now regular training and mentoring it’s hard to believe she has the time for anything else but Sarah’s next project is a dream come true for many florists. She tells us, “I am near to completing my first book which is really exciting! It is a comprehensive guide to being a wedding florist, covering all we have learned and how to thrive in this industry.”

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We’re also hoping to develop the flower school with more courses and wonderful ideas, plus more mentoring and YouTube training films as they’re a great way to connect and share our passion.”

After taking Yorkshire by storm and successfully building up her business, Sarah gives her best advice to someone starting out in the industry. “Practice perfecting your craft at any opportunity you can. It’s the craziest profession but the best in the world and in my opinion it’s well worth the ride. The early starts, backbreaking lifting and crawling around on the floor are totally worthwhile for the look on a bride’s face when she sees her bouquet, and for that last look around the venue you’ve just dressed.”

You never stop learning so just keep practising and don’t be afraid to try new things.”

To find out more about the Leafy Couture flower school, visit leafycouture.co.uk.

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James Meila Photographers