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


When we went back to the 1950s

From the bright colours to the floral patterns and billowy shapes, there is something about summer vibes and the vibrant era of the 1950s that seems to gel in our creative little minds.  So when this year’s theme of the London Summer Event Show was announced to be a fifties British tea party, our hearts skipped an excited beat!

In our opinion, the fifties in the summertime is the ultimate theme for a fantastic floral event. (Although thinking about it, the 80s would also have been a joyful challenge: we will have to tackle that particular era next time…).

The 1950s was a pivotal decade in British social history; a time when the nation regained a sense of security, rose above the uncertainty of the 1940s and heralded a new era of peace. Despite the remnants of a post-war Britain still fresh in people’s minds, an overwhelming sense of hope began to blossom as cities and towns started to rebuild, communities were restored, and their residents began to reclaim their sense of identity.

Our 50s inspiration

What our land could provide freely was the inspiration for the fruit and floral prints on wallpaper and fabrics. Repeat patterns, mixing pastels with bold colours, as well as full and rounded voluminous shapes alongside an overall idea of fun was something we really wanted to capture within our event flower designs.

Back to the 50s Sketches

To celebrate the spirit of Britain in the 1950s, we decided to create a dress made entirely of fresh flowers; thereby showcasing Hybrid’s passion for colour and detail by replicating a much-loved vintage fabric pattern. With these ideas fresh in our minds we donned our snow boots (did we mention the London Summer Event Show is in January?) and began to trawl Soho’s theatrical fabric shops looking for the perfect repeat floral.

Our retro repeat floral fabric pattern needed to complement the red, white and blue of More Production’s street party theme but we also wanted it to represent the vivid colours that were abound in the blousy garden blooms of the era.  To cut a long story short, after a fair few miles spent traversing the streets of Soho, we finally found it….

The easy bit

At the risk of sounding OTT, we have no qualms in stating that matching a theme with real-life fresh flowers is our favourite thing of all time! To make our dream 1950s floral dress, we needed our choice of flowers to lay as flat as possible in order to recreate the flow of the fabric folds that define a voluptuous 50s style dress. We found that beautifully scented spray roses were the perfect choice and the fact they were fair-trade was an added bonus. Complementing these roses with the tone of the peachy hypericum gave us the floral pattern whilst creamy white chrysanthemums, a very 50s bloom, served as the perfect background colour for our daring dress.

Back to the 50s Creation

We called her Doris

Curves and shapes formed the foundation of our 1950s style floral dress and to achieve this fantastic floral figure we relied upon lots of chicken wire and our trusty sewing machine. In this manner Doris, the perfect hostess for our 1950s British tea party, was created! The result was someone we all wanted to cuddle. She stood high up in the middle of Banking Hall looking gorgeous and attracting many admirers.

Back to the 50s Tea Dress

Back to the 50s Doris and Friends


Inspired by this thrilling 50s tea party theme, we decided to carry through these classic style influences into our Floral Adornment Master Class. Events professionals and esteemed clients alike were invited to try their hand at creating their very own wired corsages using matching flowers to our darling Doris.

Back to the 50s Bag Adornment


Back to the 50s Hybrid Star

Some wonderful visitors from across the big wide world of events planning gathered together within this master class to share their unique stories and interests. Many of our visitors enthused about how they found themselves ‘calming down’ and achieving a sense of wellbeing through the process of wiring each rose and leaf with love and attention.


Back to the 50s Natter


A lovely opportunity for a good old fashioned natter among some fellow floral enthusiasts; the spirit of the 1950s was alive and well!