Five things that will make a wedding even more beautiful after a pandemic

I was chatting with someone recently about how Covid19 has become a defining point in time, separating that innocent naïve time BC – Before Covid – from this more anxious and bewildering AC – After Covid. At the moment of course, we’re still in the bit in between, the Lockdown Limbo bit, but its heartening to see that slowly, people are beginning to plan for AC, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the beautiful bustling business of wedding planning!

So whilst ‘Lockdown Limbo’ has certainly had a significant impact on everyone’s psyche, turning things on their heads as we are forced to reassess our priorities, the prospect of going back to the blind manic sprint through life, without taking the time to at least stop and wash our hands, is hard to imagine.

We may even look back with nostalgia at the BC era and ask ourselves do we really want to return to it? (erm… YES we hear you scream, I want my life back!) but ask yourself this… weren’t there some things in the BC era that we just put up with because we didn’t have the time, or the headspace, to address them? And maybe, just maybe, this Lockdown Limbo will result in many of us accepting, relishing even, the simpler things in life.

So anyway…. weddings….

But I digress! So! Weddings. If you are planning your wedding for the AC era then we at Hybrid would love to know: have your plans changed? Are you still planning the same style of wedding as BC? Have you spent lockdown on Pinterest creating amazing boards full of things you never knew existed? Have you reassessed the vibe and feel of your fantasy wedding? Does it still include hundreds of guests and traditional ideas of pomp and ceremony?

We are willing to bet that whilst some are planning the biggest matrimonial party the world has ever seen, many couples have shifted their ideas and are focusing on alternative ‘fresher’ values. All those guests you would have invited before BC (work colleagues, school friends you haven’t seen in 10 years, your mum’s neighbour from when she was 6) may not seem so VIP anymore. It may seem more important to celebrate in the real world, with the people you really care for.

During lockdown, we have been meeting (via Zoom) with couples who are planning their weddings in the future and we have learnt many things (not least that Zoom wedding consultations are awesome! Why on earth did we not do these before?) and just for you, we have listed our findings below.

The five things we have learnt about love (and wedding planning) in the time of Covid….

1. Keeping a sense of flow and airiness

It would appear that “socially distancing” is here to stay, for the foreseeable future anyway, and so providing guests with a sense space is something they will appreciate. This feeling of airiness appears too in the popularity of ethereal style wedding dresses and informal wedding attire, not to mention eclectic wedding styling, relaxed wedding breakfast menus and of course, wild and rambling florals. This sense of ‘flow’ suits outdoor weddings perfectly, or larger venues which can space people further apart, and will generate a more relaxed atmosphere in which guests can experience different zones or areas.

All images above by Two by Two Photography

2. Keep it small… but go big on detail

We have discovered that couples are choosing to invite fewer guests than BC. Currently UK weddings are limited to gatherings of 30 guests and what we have noticed is that by keeping the wedding party smaller, people can spend more on memorable experiences.

All images above by Two by Two Photography

Couples are wanting to give guests a unique experience made up of memorable moments that celebrate their lives and each other. More than one photographer is being used to ensure all the precious, candid moments are captured, the food served is more bespoke, entertainment is more interactive to maximise the fun, mixologists are creating cocktails personal to the happy couple. Oh, and of course, florists are creating the most amazing floral installations to impress, inspire and provide the perfect photo and video opportunities. (No pressure there then!)

All images above by Two by Two Photography

3. Keep it Hybrid (no, not us!… the other type)

Virtual events are now – like it or not – a ‘thing,’ but the future is ‘hybrid’ – a mixture of virtual and real (we knew calling ourselves Hybrid was a good move!).
A hybrid event is something which works well for weddings with the ‘Go Big on Detail’ part from number 2 above, really coming into play. For example, beautiful floral displays look amazing on the screen, just take a look at Instagram if you don’t believe us, and the personalized cocktail and menu recipes can be used by people watching virtually so they feel included and part of the celebration. This way, family and friends from all around the world can say they were there.

4. Keep it personal

Weddings are, and always should be, about the couple getting married. This might be the only one time when a couple focuses on sharing with others what is important to them. If a couple has had to reschedule their wedding, then even more reason to make that day, when it eventually comes, personal to them.

Whilst in ‘Lockdown Limbo’ there has been more time to remember what is important to us. As florists, we have been asked to include flowers that represent a couple’s background and interests. One groom, who has recently taken up pottery, has made beautiful glazed pots which we will include in the table-scape design and which will be given away to guests as a keepsake for the day. Origami and paper craft is also popular as a personalised gift, or sent to guests attending the wedding “virtually.”

5. Keeping it local and seasonal

Do you remember the daffodils and magnolia of March, the tulips and bluebells and stunning blossom of April? The iris and peonies of May and roses and foxgloves of June? And what about those stunning hydrangeas and sweet peas of July, closely followed by the sunflowers and dahlia?

As you can imagine, we have seen and admired literally thousands flowers throughout our career; attending markets every day for 16 years, you get to see a lot! But we have never, ever, quite appreciated, or dare we admit, noticed, the beauty of each season’s flowers as we have done, during lockdown.

We’ve found this renewed appreciation of nature echoed in the fact couples are opting for a more natural garden style look at their wedding, rather than extravagant tropical designs. We have been encouraging followers on Instagram to peek into other’s gardens for wedding inspiration. And with so much to choose from at each stage in the year, the beauty of nature transcends even the dreadfulness of lockdown limbo.

There are some amazing independent retailers out there who’ve kept us going throughout this time, stocking locally grown flowers so that any wedding held between the months of February to October could be filled with British grown, seasonal flowers and foliage to really celebrate the time of year.

At the very beginning of this year, Evolve Events asked us to share our thoughts on floral trends for 2020. Kind of bittersweet to read it back now. We wrote:

“2020 is our time! Ever since we formed Hybrid Flowers back in 2004 we have been mad on mixing and blending different flowers, colours, foliages to create floral designs… We are celebrating and admiring flowers for their individual beauty (not their old-fashioned connotations) and treating them all equally for what they can bring to an amazing floral design. We are also cherishing flowers and greenery which is grown on our doorstep and as, for our clients, the provenance of floral elements is equally as important as the wow factor. This year therefore isn’t about one particular colour scheme nor is it about mixing up every colour under the sun; it is about the ‘impact’ our designs make in both sense of the word!”

Safe to say that 2020 didn’t quite turn out as expected! But we were right in our predictions for what will be important in floral designs. And our wedding clients seem to agree that future weddings won’t be about tradition and expectations so much as quietly celebrating a more cautious, humble way of life.

Featured Image and images where stated are by the supremely talented Two by Two Photography 

Lockdown, learning and peeking into people’s homes

As I write this, we are still in lockdown but I love the idea that at some point, in the not too distant future, I will be able to look back at this blog with a sigh of relief that it is over and that a new normal has been established.

For this ‘new normal’, my current self has been, well, reimagined: I am now an absolute pro at Instagram Live, proficiently creating Oscar worthy videos on social media in ten minutes flat. I saunter down the street with a newfound appreciation for freedom, feeling nothing but love towards my fellow citizens. I meet up with new industry friends introduced to me via the medium of YouTube and InstaLives. My hair is stunning, my nails perfectly manicured, and my abs… well, let’s just say, all those workouts with Joe Wicks have had the desired effect.

The Real World

Of course, that is a complete fantasy, we have a long way to go before we can safely say that this is over – if indeed we ever can. And whilst we are still in lockdown, it is, of course, the scientists, doctors, health professionals, policy makers, food suppliers and civil servants (to name but a few) who are out there working; undoubtedly feeling the pressure to both do their job and keep themselves and their nearest and dearest safe.

As florists, it won’t surprise you to learn that we aren’t considered in any way to be “key workers”, but still, like many others, we are trying to ‘do the right thing’. We have battened down the hatches and are keeping indoors. We are also feeling a bit guilty that we cannot be more useful.

Lockdown and Learning

When we were required to close the Hybrid studio in March, we needed to do something with the flowers we had left in stock and so we brought them home with no real plan for their future other than to give them away to people who we felt most deserved them. I consider myself a bit of a ‘creative introvert’ and struggle at the best of times to put myself centre stage, however after a chat with a marketing friend, Keren Lerner at Top Left Design on a Zoom call, she convinced me to bite the bullet and make a video of what we did with the flowers. So, I did (it can be found here…) and, actually, it was fun! Since then, I have encouraged others to do similar and have participated in InstaLive interviews and ‘how to’ videos.

We have seen lots of amazing initiatives within the creative industry where people have used their talent and skills to keep others entertained and enthralled; dance classes, art demos, book readings, the fabulous “One World: Together at Home” virtual concert, organised by Global Citizen. And for those of us whose creative yearning is greater than their desire to keep out of the limelight, there is unique potential here to be creative on your own terms.

I am willing to bet that those creative people who have stayed home have tried at least one new thing to keep themselves inspired and entertained and have probably shared it by the medium of the internet. We have given it a good ‘go’ and this, we think, is good for the soul. In our house we have become great fans of Channel 4’s Grayson’s Art Club with artist Grayson Perry encouraging viewers to paint whilst challenging them to do something out of their comfort zone.  Perry believes that ‘art can help us get through this crisis’ and that ‘creativity is a way of dealing with what’s going on in your life’ and we wholeheartedly agree.

During lockdown many of us have gone back to activities we used to love as kids. We have got creative with the items we have had to hand and completely embraced the idea that nothing needs to be polished and infinitely orchestrated so long as you have made a bit of an effort! But I have to admit that one of the best things about the programme is that we get a glimpse inside Grayson’s art studio…

Having a Peek!

Come to think of it we would never have had this candid peek in to these homes of people on TV before lockdown?! I’m pretty sure we are all fascinated by the live interviews on our screens that give us an insight into people’s real-life homes!

Sometimes I have to ask myself: am I watching this for what the person has to say, or because I can have a nose at what’s on the person’s bookshelf? A layer of mystery has been removed and we can see people in a new way. And for that matter we are even seeing our friends, clients and work colleagues in a new way whenever we have a Skype or Zoom call with them.

When the country first went into lockdown, Hybrid set up a WhatsApp group for our team and other floral friends and called it “Let Hope Bloom” (which has been the #slogan for the flower industry throughout the pandemic). Every day since we have shared creative ideas and images of our surroundings with each other, sending photos of nature waking up across London and the Home Counties. We have documented the rise and fall of daffodils and tulips, witnessed the stunning varieties of blousy blossom on London streets (the best place to see blossom is on a suburban street!), bluebells, lilac and clematis. We are now onto poppies, peonies and roses and each day, we admire these and share them with each other. I don’t think that we appreciated British flowers in quite the same way as we do now.

And yes in ‘old normal’ times we would spend every day with each other, completely accepting of each other’s skills and talents as florists but somehow through or our WhatsApp group we have become even more creative and got to know each other even better. We have been making things to please ourselves and sharing these (and our other talents and skills) with pictures from our own homes. And we have become so much closer as a result.

Working from home, with my children off school isn’t always easy! But immersing myself in my children’s world has provided much needed escapism! We have painted images of flowers, made floral headdresses, decorated hula hoops, filled jam jars with wildflowers, painted Easter eggs and made paper flowers (not that you require children to do any of these things!) We have rediscovered hobbies from yester-year and taught ourselves new things too.

It’s all about connecting

So, whilst we may be feeling guilty and sad that we are not in our studio right now we know we are doing the right thing. We are staying home and finding new and exciting ways to communicate with the outside world. We are sharing what we are good at whilst learning new tricks too. We are thankful that our minds are being kept occupied and we can share our creative take on floristry from the comfort of our own home.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask about arranging flowers, floristry in general or the industry, we would love to hear from you. Please also share any pictures you may have of flowers you have grown or arrangements you have created.

Christmas styling … why you don’t need to throw loads of flowers at it!

In case you’ve not noticed, soon it will be Christmas; that most wonderful time of the year! A time to relax, be merry, deck the halls! With social media awash with images of the perfect Christmas, from opulent flower walls to entire buildings covered in decoration, you may be forgiven for thinking that to create a Wow, you must GO BIG!

Of course, insta-images of 12 foot high Christmas trees swamped in bows, candles and glitz create a real impact, but, as a rule, at Hybrid we abide by the “less is more” adage; we believe that the essence of Christmas can still be captured using a few, well chosen, beautifully styled flowers rather than a tonne of sparkly birch trees. 

For our designs at this year’s London Christmas Party Show we were asked to create a design within an alcove at the largest Livery Hall in London, Plaisterers’ Hall, which backs on to the remains of the original Roman London Wall. In this unique venue, we wanted to create a lush Christmas atmosphere without going too over the top; we wanted the warmth, the magic and the feel of Christmas but didn’t want to chuck glitter at everything.

The essence of Christmas style:

To achieve this, we decided to go back to basics and asked ourselves what is the essence of Christmas? What are the most Christmassy colours, scents, textures around, and which little touches can we add to our design to make people feel the magic of Christmas?

We challenged ourselves to create a timeless design that would be in-keeping with a Christmas scene from when the original Plaisterers’ Hall, was built back in 1556, as well as combining the essence and spirit of a contemporary 2018 Christmas. Our solution: a colour scheme of red, amber, gold and emerald green mixed with velvety textures and lots of shiny things.

And so we set about creating a bit of an optical illusion within our curved alcove.  Appearing as if a rounded table was set into the wall (when really it was half a table making the most of the deep curved alcove behind) we filled the space with lots of Christmassy details.  We used two different textured velvet cloths sourced from our friends at Borovick Fabrics in Soho and a beautiful lace edged chargers.  We used brushed gold cutlery, tumblers and goblets and added beautiful, rich, warm coloured fruits like pomegranates, oranges and grapes.

And of course, no Christmas table would be complete without a scattering of cinnamon sticks and candlelight.  Our key flowers were scarlet coloured roses, opened to perfection, combined with traditional poinsettia flowers and glossy green foliages.

Bearing in mind our “less is more” philosophy, the next question we asked ourselves was quantity: we knew these lovely festive details would speak for themselves but what if – What If – we went BIG, just this once? We ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ for all of 5 minutes before deciding that whilst a smattering of Christmas details would hit the festive spot perfectly well, should we not throw caution to the wind and really indulge in the joy of Christmas?

And with that, we were off! We ordered ourselves not one, but two types of velvet red rose, ‘Red Naomi’ and ‘Freedom’ which we set amidst the shiniest, deepest green aralia leaves we could find, contrasted with touches of Cupressus foliage and combined with the most beautiful faux silk poinsettias. There was no holding back as we sprayed pomegranates gold and studded the oranges with different patterns of cloves, finished off with a red ribbon.  And what Christmas table isn’t complete without a full-on floral arch full of red flowers and winter foliage completely surrounding the festive setting?!

Looking back, we feel a little giddy! Those glass-urns, the goblets, That Arch! All adorned, stuffed, embellished with hundreds of breathtakingly beautiful roses. Was our flirtation with opulence worth it? Well! We think it might have been, especially as we won the award for Best Stand was as voted by the visitors (a delightful surprise).

Our top tips for creating the look:

But truly and honestly, we feel that the same effect can been created with a lot less, our ideas for decorating your own Christmas party without breaking the bank are below:

  1. Red

Use red, sparingly, in the same way as a movie star may use a dash of scarlet lipstick, to create a hint of glamour and colour without drenching the senses. To do this, you must find the most vivid red flowers you can afford, but here, less is definitely more, don’t get too many: roses or poinsettia plants are perfect (you can cut poinsettia flowers and place in vases of water for a more delicate look).

  1. Green

Combine with green shiny and textured foliage.  Deep green glossy leaves, such as evergreen camellia, laurel or aralia leaves from a garden are perfect, and combine these with common or garden stems of conifer (yes, we said conifer!) or, if you are bit posh, stems of rosemary.

  1. Gold

Add a touch of Gold: buy yourself a can of gold spray paint and spray pots, tumblers, little vases or candleholders deep, rich opulent gold (pears also look gorgeous touched, but not completely covered, with gold).

  1. Orange(s)

And last but never least, our most favourite Christmas decoration of all time will always be clove studded oranges.  They. Are. A. Must. Easy to create and heavenly to smell.

Image courtesy of the great guys at Splento 

Top tips for a floral career from the original Hybrid Heroes

On our Instagram bio we state, proudly: “The most amazing team of event and corporate florists.” This may sound a tad OTT, but we really do mean it! They. Are. Amazing! Not a week goes by when I don’t feel a sense of almost maternal pride whilst listening to the fabulous Hybrid staff chatting about their projects with such great enthusiasm and energy.

In fact, each member of our 14 strong clan contributes something individually wonderful and eclectic which, when combined, forms the very essence of Hybrid. Together, we form the most amazing team which, for me at least, has become even more than that: it’s an extended family, full of people you actually choose to spend time with, each with their own talent and personality.

We caught up with three of our most long-standing Hybrid Heroes whilst installing designs at a recent English Garden summer installation at The Brewery in the City of London. I wanted to ask them what made them become florists in the first place and if they have any words of wisdom for people thinking of a career in floristry.

Fiona has worked at Hybrid for four years, Liliana for nine years and Gabriella for six. This is what they said:

Do you think you were destined to become a florist?

Creating something memorable from flowers has always been in Liliana’s blood, ever since she and her brother would play outside as children in the countryside in Cordoba, Argentina, where they would make little characters from the seed-heads of clematis flowers.

For Fee, it was a childhood spent playing outdoors in Yorkshire where she would pretend to be a presenter on a TV cookery show and use piles of leaves decorated with flowers as food!

From an early age, Gabs, was drawn to the beautiful enticing and fascinating flower shops in her home city of Budapest.

Both Gabs and Fee chose to study Horticulture directly upon leaving school. Fee studied for three years at Leeds City College which for her was a welcome change from the formal dynamic of classroom learning. For Gabs, ‘horticulture’ was the first word that jumped out at her when she opened the book of careers given to all Hungarian 14 year olds at her high school. She went on to study six years of Horticulture at University in Budapest. Coincidently, both loved learning the Latin names for plants and the design aspect of their courses before deciding to specialise in floristry inspired by the flowers they had been taught how to grow.

Liliana travelled all over the world before moving to London in her thirties where she was inspired by her then house-mate to study on a 3 year floristry course at Southwark College.  The alumni from the 2003 graduation year is one to be proud of, including flower experts and florists such as Rona Wheeldon, founder of Flowerona, Rafael Ballesteros, Manager of Galton Flowers and Mary Woolcot the owner of Windmill Flowers. Liliana’s tutor proudly stated that it was a very competitive year!

The first question we are always asked by people thinking of moving into floristry is, is it worth going to college?

All three whole heartedly agree that yes, you need to have a sound knowledge of the basics.

For Liliana, going to college gave her the confidence to be a professional:

For me, it was the most amazing thing I could have done as it opened my eyes to different forms of floristry and you need to have that knowledge to be professional.

Gabs agrees:

Studying allows you to be the very best you can be.

Upon leaving college, Liliana and Fee, were given lucky breaks by wonderful flower shop managers in London who believed in giving good college graduates a chance; they never looked back!

Do you still love flowers after all these years?

Liliana jokes that her hands certainly don’t! But all three agreed that they still love flowers. Liliana loves growing her own and using them in her house.

Fee explained that there are always new flowers emerging in the industry which make you fall back in love with the simplest flowers that you have used for years.  Her passion is always sparked by new varieties of old style flowers such as the quirkiest varieties of carnations called ‘Nobbio Violet’ and ‘Peach Extazis’.

We asked what each would be doing if they weren’t working in this mad floral world?

For Liliana, it would be something crafty or artistic, perhaps fine art whereas for Fee, as well as creative writing, she would be immersed in history, delving into myths and legends and the history of ancient buildings.  Which is why she always volunteers to install event flowers at some of our most historical London venues such as Merchant Taylors’ Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Queen’s House, Greenwich!

Gabs however, would have liked to study Microbiology, especially creating new flowers, or an architect!

Do Gabs, Liliana and Fee have any tips for people considering a career in floristry?

Gabs advises to never stop learning, make everything as if you were making it for yourself and keep the passion.  The industry is so intense that once you stop loving the industry, you will leave, so keep the passion alive!

Fee recommends keeping perspective and not sweating the small stuff. She said:

Listen and learn from the experienced florists, they will teach you new tips and tricks.  Each florist, each shop and company does things differently absorb it all and you’ll find what works for you.

Liliana is more pragmatic, advising to be prepared for cold days, early hours and lots of psychical work:

It is very creative but you can never rest on your laurels.  If you work in the flower industry, keep in mind that it is one of the hardest environments to work in as your product is perishable so you must always be thinking of ways to sell your creations.

Gabs added:

It is never boring! It is one of the only professions where you will be continually thinking, prioritising, calculating, selling, creating, physically lifting and moving, driving, liaising, marketing, planning, drawing, presenting and writing and that’s before touching any flowers!

Made up of individuals, Hybrid, is more than the sum of its parts: our combined experience means that we can always ask each other for advice or run new ideas past one another and there are moments of sheer joy when we sit down and simply chat, talk about the old times, discuss philosophies of life and learn something new about each other.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about the Hybrid Heroes and we are always happy to answer any questions you may have about a career in floristry.

Three things all Zero to Hero events entrepreneurs have in common

When Clare McAndrew, Marketing Director of Story, invited us to speak on an expert panel at the London Summer Event Show, we thought to ourselves:

Well, we always love a chat, especially with other event industry creatives… but are we really that fascinating?…. and would our collective experiences be enough to inspire and advise a new generation of startups?

Clare reassured us:

Our audience would LOVE to hear your stories, especially as all of you brilliant suppliers started from nothing and went on to create something great… ! I guarantee that people would find what you have to say inspiring….. Oh and by the way the seminar is already fully booked!

It turns out, Clare was right!  Alongside our Alan (Simpson Co-Owner of Hybrid) was Peter Gibbons, the dynamic owner of Lux Technical; Susannah Mountfort, the innovative Founder & Director of Gingerline & Flavourology and Taran O’Doherty the super cool Founder & Sales Director of Yahire.  Despite each of these companies contributing to the events industry in very different ways we all had so much to say and all shared remarkably similar backgrounds and experiences.

And here are just three of them:

  1. Having that Eureka moment!

Take Alan. Alan kind of fell into floristry, and I mean that quite literally! As a teenager, rehearsing for the local am-dram production in the Church Hall, he somehow managed to topple over one of two identical floral arrangements put there for a funeral due to take place that afternoon. Embarrassed and shocked, he did his best to reassemble the arrangement and amazingly, and somewhat to his surprise, he succeeded! No one could notice the difference between the original and the one he’d recreated!  That was his calling! He enrolled himself on to a YTS and started his floristry training and the rest as they say, is ‘Zero to Hero’ history.

It would appear that we weren’t alone in local theatre acting as a catalyst for success. Peter Gibbons started his journey as a teenager volunteering for a local theatre where he developed his passion for lighting and sound. This led eventually to him buying the assets of a company whose owner was about to retire and Lux Technical was born. He now employs 10 full time staff and creates events for the most amazing clients including Google and War Child.

Susannah Mountfort’s unique idea was to fuse together art, performance, food, drink and design. On The Gingerline, guests are sent to a secret location for an evening of extraordinary performance, narrative, set design and amazing food. She has since created Flavourology and Chambers of Flavour, both offering multi-dimensional dining experiences. She even wrote her own piece of software which monitors dining guests moving through the interactive events space, this was later adapted for Starbucks.

After working for an event furniture hire company for a bit, Taran O’Doherty decided to set up his own business with his best friend from school. One night they both got drunk, pulled out a notepad did some rubbish drawings (his words not ours) and hey presto! Yahire was born. With no business plan or experience, very little money and no way of knowing how to would gain customers Taran and Ben bought 300 folding chairs and 30 trestle tables which they stored in Ben’s mum’s home. Yahire now employs 80 people and is the stand-out name in the industry.

  1. Not giving a monkey’s

So! Sounds simple? Have an idea and hey presto, you’re an entrepreneur. But stop press… all is not as it seems!   When asked about challenges along the way we all agreed on these:

#1: Getting people to take you seriously

Youth can be on your side, but if you’re starting up your own business, sometimes it can prevent people from believing in you. Peter came to London in his early 20s and agrees that ‘coming to London when not one of us were over the age of 25, was a challenge.  You need people to know that you and your company were utterly capable and able to deliver no matter what.’

Susannah took it as a challenge when working with other non-event industries as some did not take her seriously. She wanted people to recognise an ambitious plan and believe in her idea. Fortunately, ‘the desire to prove anyone who said we couldn’t do it wrong was hugely motivating’.

#2: Being motivated

Having self-control and keeping focussed can be extremely challenging. As Taran explains: ‘As a leader, remembering your goals, and not get distracted is very challenging. After a couple of years, your new company becomes a job, and it can be tough to keep focussed and move in the right direction’.

#3: Loneliness

Setting up your own business can be lonely, even when there are two of you setting out to conquer the world.

Peter advises to ‘Build yourself a support structure: my family, friends and business mentors have been key as it is a very lonely place at the top, and it feels as if you are the only person feeling it’.

At Hybrid we’ve found that as our business has grown, our clients, suppliers and staff all become as precious as our own families, so before you know it you’ve created your clan of like-minded people!

  1. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Yoda, Jedi Master

When Clare asked the panel what it is you need to set up your own business within the events industry: for Alan the answer was simple:

‘Passion.  So many people come to us and say:

Oh I would have loved to have done that!

I say either go and do it, or stop talking about it!’

Taran agreed: ‘So many people deliberate or say they are going to do something and find excuses not to, but you have to believe you are capable of doing anything.’

Peter adds ‘Surround yourself with people who challenge you, if you are always hands on, you are never going to be able to scale it up, so bring people in who are better than you. The key to our success has been people, there is no two ways about it.’

So if you have an idea that you think rocks, go for it! What’s the worst that can happen?

With great thanks to Splento for all images

 

The two flowers that make a florist’s life worth living over the winter months: Part Two

As florists buying from London’s biggest flower market, at Hybrid, we know for certain when winter is on its way when we spot the Dutch flower trollies neatly stacked with slim, yet surprisingly heavy, rectangular boxes full of an indispensable floral hero.

Like children opening long-awaited-for presents, we feel a genuine sense of anticipation and awe as we lift the cardboard lid to one of these boxes. Similar to a box of toy soldiers from another era, we are met with rows of individual stems: fresh green, chunky, and topped with full-to-bursting buds of giant flowers resting on pillows of foam. And we rejoice! Our beloved amaryllis has returned!

Without a shadow of doubt, the amaryllis is up there as one of the top two “Florist’s Life-Saving Winter Flowers” (and yes, that is a Thing). We looked at its partner, the cymbidium, in an earlier post, but for this piece, my aim is to create within you the same sense of wonder, respect and admiration that we feel towards the amaryllis. I shudder to think where we would be at winter time without these beautiful, powerful blooms.

Funny How Flowers Do That

To create something spectacular, you need the best, most versatile materials you can find and the amaryllis come up trumps here, giving us the option to use their amazing height and presence to create real impact. We have positioned them in giant fan-shaped vases for high-end hotel lobbies and bound together in ‘wands’ to look like a giant lollipop, which is perfect for corporate reception areas.

Their magnificently bold open blooms look fabulous used completely on their own or when placed alongside other winter and spring flowers set into all manner of simple or striking vases and vessels.

amaryllisinfo.eu

With colours ranging from the purest of whites to the most shocking of candy pinks, with oranges, peaches, reds and almost-blacks, in between, the amaryllis ticks all the boxes.

Marrewijk Amaryllis

As with the cymbidium, in our view, the best amaryllis are cultivated over the water in Holland. Our Dutch friends, Lisa and Arno van Marrewijk have run a family business growing amaryllis since 1994. Despite being growers of the most beautiful varieties of amaryllis, they like to keep the company small so Arno can remain in his beloved greenhouses and not be confined to the office. Lisa also works with amaryllisinfo.eu to promote amaryllis growers in the Netherlands. Together with their three daughters they maintain an inspiring Instagram account: @marrewijk_amaryllis
I asked them a few questions:

Why do we think of amaryllis as a winter flower?

Years ago, most amaryllis were produced in November and December because the flowers were only used at Christmas time.

An amaryllis bulb will stay in our glasshouses for the whole year and, a bit like tulips in the garden, bulbs will only flower when they have been kept for two months at a temperature below 15 degrees. One bulb can grow two or three stems within a year, so we have 6 sections in the greenhouse, each with a different cooling temperature. This enables us to produce amaryllis from September until March.

Just how popular are amaryllis in Holland?

They are popular, but there are still people who don’t know what an amaryllis is! I tell them about the bulb with big flowers at Christmas time in their grandmother’s house. But I really think that their unique selling point is that when you buy them they are completely in bud, and then they change every day and almost quite magically, become vibrant and beautiful.

Perhaps the boldest of all the amaryllis is the red variety but the wealth of colour variation for this flower is truly spectacular. Lisa van Marrewijk loves all varieties of amaryllis, but whenever a new variety is produced it goes to the top of ratings.

In my house I always cut the stems short and arrange them with some foliage from the garden, but in churches and hotels they should be tall to create impact! Amaryllis will open sooner in a warm environment and so to keep them lasting longer, place them in fresh, clean water. Every time you change the water, re -cut the stems.

At Hybrid, it has to be said that the amaryllis can inspire some quite eccentric behaviour in our florists, who may otherwise, on the whole, be quite normal (although who wants to be normal!). Our Creative Director, Alan, adores the satisfying echoey-crunchy sound made when an amaryllis’s hollow stem is cut. I find that painstakingly picking each individual fresh anther from the opening flower bud is just too irresistible (I like to get them just before their pollen turns yellow and dusty!).

However, the effect the flower has on us at Hybrid is nothing in comparison to the Greek myth which tells the story of the amaryllis’s creation! Our resident Greek florist, the gorgeous Sofia, loves to tell the tale of how the amaryllis came to be:

In Greece, the amaryllis symbolizes pride, determination and glamorous beauty.

The story goes that a beautiful maiden, Amaryllis, fell in love with a shepherd called Alteo. Alteo was as beautiful as Apollo, and mighty as Hercules and he had a passion for flowers. He insisted he would only fall in love with a girl who could bring to him a new type of a flower, one that he had never set his eyes on before. Amaryllis was determined to bag Alteo for herself (and wouldn’t you be with those attributes?) and so she turned to the great Oracle of Delphi for advice.

The Oracle told Amaryllis that in order to win Alteo‘s heart, she must wear a white dress and sacrifice her own blood for him. Amaryllis stood in front of Alteo’s house for thirty nights piercing her own heart with a golden arrow (they did things differently in those days – no I guess we’d just right-swipe?). The drops from Amaryllis’s heart fell into the soil and on the thirtieth day, a crimson flower grew where the blood had fallen. In return for this horrific, and no doubt painful, sacrifice, Alteo fell in love with Amaryllis. And maybe they all lived happily ever after!

At Hybrid, we want you too to rejoice in the beauty of the amaryllis and appreciate all the possibilities it has to offer. You won’t need to sacrifice your blood either, amaryllis bulbs can be bought from most reputable florists and garden centres now.

Hybrid Top Tip

As corporate and event florists, often, we want amaryllis to open up as quickly as possible. Key to achieving this is room temperature and we abide by a tip from one of our, now retired, flower market trader friends, who started his career in the original Covent Garden flower market as a barrow boy back in the seventies:

  1. Turn the flower upside down and cut the end of the stems
  2. Fill the hollow stems with warm water
  3. Seal the stem with cotton wool
  4. Quickly turn the flower back upright and place in more warm water
  5. Leave to open in a warm room

Trust us: it works!

With thanks to our friends, the wonderful Marrewijk Amaryllis, amaryllisinfo.eu and Funny How Flowers Do That.

The journey, the detail, and the interaction: how Sarah Kay creates “other worlds”

There is something to be said about being the last to arrive at the party.  Alright, alright we don’t mean the actual party (we get up far too early for that), we are talking about the wonderful world of event planning.

We florists, the providers of the finishing touches, often find ourselves presented with unique themes and impressive event briefs around which to create bespoke floral designs. It really does mean that no two events are ever the same.  In the last few months alone we have created floral arrangements to accompany all manner of amazing themes including Vintage Circuses, Luxury Summers, Tiki Bars, Secret Gardens and Maritime Wonders but to name a few!

Now of course it goes without saying that choosing the right floral design can be absolutely key to creating impressive event. But in order to make these occasions truly immersive it calls for a crack team of events professionals from catering, entertainment and lighting to scent and virtual reality providers . All of these industry experts have one mission in mind; to come together and create an experience for the guests that will resonate far beyond the event itself.

Ask the expert

Sarah Kay is one of the most inspired, energetic and knowledgeable experts on the UK events scene. Through her company, The Edit, Sarah organizes and consults on a broad spectrum of amazing events which transport her clients’ guests to exciting new worlds.  Ever eager to gain some exclusive insights from an industry expert, we decided to ask Sarah to some key questions on how to create an amazing corporate event. Enjoy!

What do you love most about your job?

What I love about events is that it’s creating another world for the day or evening. Guests step into a space and they’re transported – worries are forgotten and it’s all about having a good time, socialising and enjoying the moment.

Does an event always have to have a theme?

Themes certainly help to create ‘worlds’. Nowadays everything feels so fast paced and serious that a really fun theme that creates something so removed from your day to day life is hugely appealing and has maximum impact. But a ‘theme’ doesn’t mean ‘themed’. For example, we recently provided conference styling for a bank where the brief was black and white with the conversations of the day adding the colour. We added ideas that encouraged audience participation and created fun moments such as black and white balloons that were popped to reveal colourful confetti. It was about adding a fun touch without detracting from the concept of the day.

How do you create an engaging corporate event?

When you think about the journey, the detail and how guests will interact with the space. Just having huge props isn’t enough for people to feel that they’re in another place or world. It’s all about thinking how your guests will respond, what will make them smile, what would they Instagram and how will they walk away feeling. It’s more than a look, it’s a concept and should run through every element of the event from the invite through to the food, the entertainment and the atmosphere. We’ve even introduced event scents before as they evoke such powerful memories – that really helps to immerse people.

What are the three key aspects that you cannot neglect when working to a theme?

Detail, food and the journey. We design an event so that people walk in and think ‘wow’ but then as the event continues they notice the detail again and again. People remember the atmosphere and the detail. The food is something most events have and it’s missing a trick to not incorporate this into the theme. It’s such a small cost to do so therefore we think it’s essential to consider.

What has been your favourite corporate event?

My favourite event is definitely the festival theme we did at Sushi Samba with Story. It was such a fun brief and we totally transformed the space. Guests arrived and were given a lanyard with a stage schedule, wristbands and a phone charger. The journey saw them taking in four different bars, all styled to a theme, the main space which has been covered in grass, and if they were lucky enough to discover it, a secret garden (with Hybrid’s designs!) complete with liquid nitrogen cocktails and ice creams. The theme was so much fun and we really ran with it, creating a totally unexpected space at the top of a skyscraper.

Any predictions for future events themes?

I think immersive events will continue to be popular, so any theme or world but just totally all consuming, very theatrical and full on. People are exposed to so many stimulants that event themes have had to keep up and the immersive concept overtakes to create impact.

I also think natural. As the world becomes more digital people crave nostalgia, nature and relaxed atmospheres so I think we’ll see lots more of this.

Having said that technology is huge especially virtual reality which is definitely one of the event buzz words of the moment.

Any pearls of wisdom for the corporate events planner?

Always consider what you are trying to achieve. What are your goals? How do you want your guests to feel before the event, during and after? Thinking about the guest journey and experience as this really helps you plan. Also find the best suppliers as they help you create the best events – I couldn’t do it without them!

With thanks to Story for the Festival Event at SushiSamba images and The Edit for all other images.