People who made us smile
We've been lucky to meet a zillion and one people in our travels and not just florists. Some however have made more of an impact on us and the industry than others .... not just with wicked design but by doing things that have helped the floricultural industry grow. In this this special gallery we pay tribute to people who have made us smile!
People who made us Smile
Just click the first image below to scroll through the full gallery.
The lady who started it all in many ways. Jayne Foster, second owner of The Florist, both trained with and worked for Connie before setting up her own shop. According to Jayne she was a tough lady who broached no nonsense but was totally respected. Her approach to floristry was to launch a whole range of styles and design principles that are still being copied today.
Taken from us far too early – she died back in 2011 - Jane Packer is up there with the greats when it comes to influencing floristry both in the UK and around the world. Trained at Tottenham College, Jane broke the rules of conventional floristry and introduced a whole new style. Today her legacy lives on through the shops she founded with her husband Gary and the distinctive black and white branding has been copied around the globe. We are both proud to include her in our list and help launch the Flowers for Hope week being run by the Jane Packer Foundation on behalf of the Brain Tumour Research charity.
Grant runs The Paper Studio and has consistently supported initiatives in the industry including British Flower Week, Lonely Bouquet and Good Florist Guide with free promotion material. The fact he also stumped up more money to make sure more florists got a copy of this issue was actually done after we’d put him on the list but is another reason he is on it!
She came from New Zealand and married to Geoffrey Lewis, another hugely influential person in the industry. Their shop in North London was renowned for its quality and expertise and it was Anne who formed, along with Pearl White and Robert Fowler, the Society of Floristry in 1951 which created a standard (NDSF and ICSF) which is still considered the highest of the high.
Sue Steptoe & Jacky Stephen
A lot of readers may not like supermarkets selling flowers but these ladies (Sue for Waitrose and Jacky for Tesco) made sure they showed and sold the best. As a result consumers have seen - and experienced - flowers in a way independent florists could never have achieved and helped grow the whole market way above expectations which in turn has helped growers and workers around the world; not least UK suppliers who send the bulk of their production to supermarkets. Sadly, sales growth in the independent sector has not matched the supermarkets so the challenge for florist shops will be to take the increased consumer awareness, add in the needs of the new generation and market themselves far more aggressively. It’s what our first editorial in 1949 said … it’s what we still say 68 years later.
A man who has the balls to say how it is on his great website called Flowers & Cents.com never mind playing a darned good riff …. his musical skills are as good as his industry knowledge.
She was an Australian nurse who travelled to Colombia, fell in love and stayed. She is also the woman who in 1999, and with the full support of her grower husband, Ernesto, founded the innovative program Cultivemos la Paz en Familia – Peace in the Family. Aimed at stopping domestic violence, the program, which started on their farm Flores Suasuque which is considered one of the closest to chemical free production, has now helped over 50,000 farm workers in Colombia and been adopted by Asocoflores ( the Colombian Flower Exporter Association). These days Colombia is now considered one of the fairest employers in the flower industry.
The Welsh W***h & Bristol B***h
No, not us being rude … it’s the name they gave themselves. Hilary West and Pat Reeves, both holders of the Society of Floristry NDSF, both amazing tutors and both very strict!! However their skill and professionalism was second to none and many a florist and tutor of today owes a huge debt of gratitude to these two ladies for so willingly sharing their knowledge.
Quite rightly florist to the stars and royalty but also probably the biggest supporter of florists you could meet. That said – as his interview on page 73 shows – he doesn’t pull his punches. Ignore his advice at your peril!!
Pulbrook & Gould
Lady Susan Pulbrook and Rosamund Gould, opened their shop in 1956. For more than 60 years it has been regarded not just as one of the very best shops in London, with a client base ranging from royalty to stars but the place where so many of the UK’s bright young florists first cut their teeth .. or flowers if they were allowed to!. Indeed P&G is credited with being every bit as influential on the class of the 80’s and 90’s as Constance Spry was to the 50’s.
We first met Gregor in Melbourne, Australia back in the 70’s when he was competing in the Interflora World Cup and he walked off the stage to give our editor, Caroline a flower as she sat alone in the press area! Since then his skill and generosity has made him one of the most popular and inspiring designers in the world.
In theory our competitor but we never saw it that way because we have very different audiences and angles and so together have spread the floral message far and wide – in Alison’s case through both Fusion Flowers and Floral Fundamentals. We know only too well how hard it is to fund and maintain high standards when it comes to editorial – especially in an internet world that makes everyone think they can be a journalist - but Alison has done a fab job and we wish her well in the future.
She hate us when we ‘lurk’ at Chelsea ready to pounce and take pics but that’s only because her insistence on the very highest standards of judging takes absolute priority. Being a judge is not the easiest task but Lynda has consistently fought for excellence and fairness and shared her knowledge willingly, and with kindness to help contestants at all levels.
The Foster Family
While Jayne Foster may have been the face of The Florist and Spring Florist Event before children Caroline and Marcus took over in 1988, it was actually Derek Foster who in 1966 agreed to underwrite the whole madcap idea of buying the magazine and take responsibility for its debts and obligations whilst Jayne built it back up again. For over 50 years the Foster family have continued to support the industry and have often been described as the “glue that held the industry together” because they have consistently remained the only truly independent, impartial and at times pretty darned blunt trade voice but always with the interests of florists at heart.
Like her cohort Jane Packer, Paula was another child of the 80’s who broke with convention to change the face of floristry. As our interview on page 54 shows, it hasn’t always been easy but it’s has been fun!
Her own name isn’t that well known but The Lonely Bouquet project is recognised the world over. Started back in June 2013 we’ve supported it ever since and think it’s amazing that one girl could come up with such a brilliant idea that has spread flowery love all over the world. The 2017 Lonely Bouquet Day is June 25th and has been taken up by both NAFAS and the WI as well as florists globally.
Under the name Alexandra Roses Joey is responsible for making the most beautiful garden roses accessible to everyone by taking a dream and making it happen. Having been to his farm in Bogotá, Colombia we know it is run to the very best ethical and environmental standards in fact with beautiful flowers and best practice growing it’s the perfect combination.
Not only the Champion at the 2005 Interflora World Cup, David’s also won an amazing 7 Gold Chelsea medals – a record that has never been beaten. To us though he is one of the stars of Spring Florist Event and although he may say listening to Lifted and Reach for the Stars was painful, his place on the design team – both on and off stage was the stuff of legends. Today he continues to inspire and help florists in a totally different but just as brilliant way.
Rene van Rems
A Dutchman living in the US, we had one of the most hilarious afternoons ever when we invaded a photo shoot he was doing in LA a few years ago. Because this is a man that not only produces the most stunning work but inspires audiences around the US – oh yes and talks a whole load of business sense as well. His books were on our best seller lists and worth tracking down if you can’t get to see him in real life.
Not only is he an ace designer who does some fab things in both his Bournemouth shop and for the Flower Factor alongside Pim van der Akker but a really decent bloke. You see FTD Inc, the US division of Interflora, cancelled the 2002 World Cup. While an alternative was held at the European Floriade and 18 other countries took part David wasn’t allowed to compete as it was not the official one and so missed out on the biggest competition in the world. Personally we think he was robbed and could very well have taken it. Instead he manfully went along to the ‘not quite real one’ as our reporter and not only did an amazing job but was oh so gracious about it all, praising the winner, Per Benjamin to the hilt.
Good Florist Guide Panellists
GFG has always aimed to be as impartial as the magazine and why we needed an independent panel to assess all the applications. These good peeps – Lesley Nash, Pip Holley, Sian Wilde, Nikki Meader and Karen Massey were willing to put their heads above the parapet to make a honest judgement call on all the applications even though they knew sometimes (and it is only sometimes) not everyone would be happy with the results. It’s not easy and given it is all done voluntarily, incredibly generous on their part.
He may have been scared witless when he took to the stage at Spring Florist Event but he was a talent to be reckoned with and has gone on to be one of the most respected designers in the UK. Founder of the UK School of Floristry, tutor at Welsh College, a passionate supporter, and Past President of the Society of Floristry as well as a key member and Past Chairman of the Judges Guild, Ian is regularly included in lists of any repute as a florist of extraordinary talent and deservedly so.
For nearly 20 years Jo was the head of The Flower Council of Holland in the UK and persuaded them to spend hundreds of thousands on helping florists via dems, roadshows and features in The Florist. A journalist and marketer in his previous life, Jo travelled throughout the UK and Eire to enthuse, challenge and, at times, badger florists to do more and be braver. Many a florist will remember with affection Daisy’s Flower Shop (Ian Lloyd and Johan Huisman), the Retail Florist of the Year competition and the Business Workshops … all projects that help shape many of today’s businesses and florists.
She started out as a junior for Paula Pryke before she and Ercole Moroni left to set up McQueens. Whilst Ercole is now running a school in Italy, Kally has taken McQueens to new and staggering heights and inspired thousands of people with amazing flowers and inspirational videos.
His motto was ‘do it correct, or not do it at all’ and given his track record we reckon he did just that. The son of florists in Germany he arrived in the US with €200 and a dream. That dream was to see him start wholesaling from the back of an MGB to building up Esmeralda, one of the largest growing and breeding operations in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico and Africa which supported tens of thousands of families for over four decades.
Say these two names and you have to add in OASIS® as well. Poul started life with the company in Denmark before relocating to Washington, Tyne and Wear when the company set up in the UK. From then on he, Karen and the company spent thousands of pounds and hours helping florists to develop their businesses and, under Karen’s guidance helping tutors as well. Whilst some things have changed, the company philosophy of helping florists do better has never changed.
We haven’t always agreed but having tracked the trail of all the issues surrounding training we have to give Sandie top marks for fighting the floristry training cause when no one else wanted to. She has battled to get it sorted out for more years than she probably cares to remember, we really hope this time it happens as it should.
The Frampton Family
Donald Frampton CBE was one of the UK’s most outstanding horticulturists and many of the techniques for growing chrysanthemum were developed by him to the point he was producing all year round (AYR) chrysanths 8 years before the Dutch! By the 80’s Framptons were one of the biggest growers in West Sussex and on his retirement he helped sons Colin and Alan develop their own brand Donaldson’s (get it?!) which carried on the tradition for many years more.
Uk Based Wholesalers
Online is great but if we’re honest our first love is for UK based wholesalers. Like florists, they have seen their market change hugely and been subject to the same pressures with the arrival of overseas suppliers and digital disruptors. Yet it is UK based wholesalers that support local florists 6 … and sometimes 7 days a week in a way no overseas company can. There may be fewer of them these days but they deserve every bit of support they can get as without a local wholesaler life as a florist would be a heck of a lot tougher for thousands of shops
In the late 80’s Val started her own manufacturing business with a range of products that were to become best sellers. But her influence was in place long before that. She had her own shop, was an awe inspiring tutor and made it a mission to share her knowledge however she could. Today the company specialises in amazing 3D sculptured basis that have transformed funeral work for florists around the UK but who can ever forget Storky …. guaranteed to put a smile on our face every time we think about it.
Piet van Kempen
With his flowing locks and huge camera the Commercial Director of DGI and G Fresh is recognised the world over. But it’s Piet’s work on Floral Fundamentals, which he co-founded with Marius Dekker, Steef van Adrichem, Alison and Denis Bradley that makes us smile. Thousands of flowers donated by growers throughout Holland to create stunning floristry and inspiration for florists around the world … all captured through the lens of a man that really does share the love of flowers.
The Douthwaite Family
They started life as wire manufactures in Leeds before opening what was to become the largest cash and carry in the UK. In the 70’s they launched monthly demonstrations which florists would drive 100’s of miles to attend such was the thirst for knowledge and inspiration and, thanks to the buying skills of first Raymond and then son Nigel, were known for being innovative and proactive in sourcing new products – indeed are still responsible for some of the best-selling products to hit UK shops. Now grandson James heads up Corsage Creations, suppliers of the coolest and easiest to use products for the wedding and prom market – a trend from the 40’s that is making it big time in the twenty tens!
We first met J when he presented a fantastic design show at SFE back in the 90’s. Now he runs U Bloom.com, a website packed with practical and inspirational floral advice and presented in the unique J style that has made him one of the best loved designers and commentators in the US and worthy recipient of the Society of American Florists lifetime achievement award honouring Professional Flower Communication.
Pim van Kleef
Respected by his fellow wholesalers as one of the pioneers, Pim wasn’t just one of the biggest supporters of the industry in terms of sponsorship but the first to introduce on line ordering. As our feature on page 70 shows 21 years later FleuraMetz is now a global player and still leading the way.
If you love Italian anemones then Sandro is probably the man to thank. Back in ’85 he set up Ciesse Flower Export and from small beginnings he and now his family have created probably the biggest supplier of the most amazing Italian grown flowers and foliage’s coming into the UK. Working with generations of growers in and around San Remo, one wholesaler described walking around with Sandro like walking with royalty such is the regard he is held in.
When the Good Florist Guide panel said “great floristry, shame about the shop”, unlike some Barry didn't bleat on Facebook. Instead, whilst he admits on his blog he was a bit hurt, he took it in the spirit it was intended, and promptly refurb and rebranded the shop. Now he is well and truly a GFG’er with style and we love his attitude. Indeed are proud of every florist who has taken the effort to put themselves forward. We know fear of rejection can be tough but we are a lot nicer than you might think so if you want to join Barry visit www.goodfloristguide.com … we don’t bite … honest!!
On the list because not only do they grow the most beautiful roses – their Avalanche is to die for! - but because they are a family business that still passionately cares about their product and their florist customers. A nice combo we think.
If there was one man that made us smile it was Johan …. not least because HE was always smiling. Known as Johan the Flowerman, he was probably one of the kindest, nicest men you could meet – we at the magazine had the pleasure of working with him at Spring Florist Event as well as ‘going on the road’ with him when he and Ian Lloyd presented the Flower Council of Holland roadshows … Daisies the Florist will live on in many a memory as will Johan.
Before TV was recorded Joe Reilly Snr, who had run a chain of 50 flower and fruit shops back in the 50’s before opening his own shop in Glasgow, was one of the leading designer florists of his time and regularly appeared on TV showing the art of floristry and flower arranging which was still in its infancy. An active member of Interflora, helping them with design collections and in his local Scottish region, he was one of the first to develop the concept of central make-up and of course created a second generation of brilliant florists in the form of his son Joe Jnr who took up the mantle with style – he was one of the funnest designers at SFE! – and travelled around the UK sharing his knowledge and skills.
Major Eric Roberts
Little is known about his early career but Eric Roberts SF Dip was one of the greatest technicians in the florist industry who not only knew what to do but how to explain it as well through the most exquisite line drawings; back in the 60’s photography in a trade magazine was limited! His skill was shared through the pages of the magazine for over 30 years and as an active member – and former President of the Society of Floristry, he encouraged youngsters to ‘get it right’ with the humour use of Dollie Dumbell cartoons.
The best Deputy a person could have. She has, since she joined the magazine 4 years ago as an intern, been a breath of fresh air and done more than she will ever know to not only keep it going but add whole new dimensions. We send her off to her new job with love, affection and a huge amount of appreciation. Oh yes and a mug!!