Welcome to the next instalment of wild's "How to work weddings", a blog for aspiring creatives who are itching to turn their love for weddings into a real business. Be it Side Hustling or Full Time work - knowing where to start can be tough. This blog serves to give you an insight into the wedding world, the motives behind your fellow creatives and what they did or are doing to get their names out there. It's been a little while since the last instalment as I am fully in wedding season, but today's entry was a welcome distraction from my growing to do list... I really hope you love it!
Tell me about you!
I'm Sophie, 28 and owner of Gigil & Bloom, I'm a total flower fantasist and spend most of my free time thinking of weird and wonderful ways to install flowers into a couples big day or my shop front! I'm also a complete and utter accident waiting to happen and you'll usually find me sporting a whopper of a bruise or Superdrugs latest plaster range, risk of the job, but totally worth it.
What experience did you have before launching Gigil & Bloom?
I've always worked closely with the wedding industry and customer service since my early teenage years scrubbing dishes in our local Italian but as far as floristry is concerned I worked for several years with a few other florists before opening G&B, they all had their own style of floristry, different techniques and management style so I managed to experience all the best and worst bits of floristry in a short amount of time and learn how I would like my own - at the time hypothetical - business to be run. As soon as I made the career change to floristry I wholeheartedly threw myself into the industry.
During my apprenticeship I would do all the extra hours I could and I'd spend my free time pouring over books, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest to spot latest trends, colour schemes, flowers I hadn't worked with, installations, in fact that's something you can still find me doing!
How did you develop your initial portfolio? I.e. on Instagram?
With all the technology and focus on social media these days its hard to imagine but my first ever portfolio was a less than glamorous scrapbook of all my pictures as I worked my way through my apprenticeship. Gigil & Blooms initial website was also a bit of a virtual version of this but as our lovely couples big days have come around and we've started doing more styled shoots our professional portfolio has been quickly accumulating, more often than not we can't update the website quick enough which is why we find Instagram so perfect as a sneak peek of our portfolio.
Did you invest in any coaching/ training in the initial stages? if so what were your experiences of that?
So I did my initial training as an apprentice in the very shop I went on to buy, to be totally candid I was left to my own devices most of the time and not a lot time and training was invested in me so I pretty much fudged my way through it relying on snippets of insight from florist friends and self-teaching. However it inspired me to get more creative and develop my own style and technique and I know for sure that when the time comes to take on my own apprentice they'll be getting a whole lot of time invested in them!
What made you want to take the leap to owning your own shop? was it opportunity or sheer determination? or a mix?
It had been a bit of a fantasy of mine to have my own place, however I wasn't in any rush. At the time the shop came up I was working for a lovely florist and was quite content where I was. But back when I had been doing my apprenticeship I had always said that one day I'd come back and buy the shop, it just has everything I could ask for in a flower den, a big double frontage bang in the middle of Southwell's high street, so when the opportunity arose and that particular shop did come up, I couldn't pass on it, but it came unexpectedly, which meant I had to get my act together and quick, we literally had a 2 week turnaround from signing the papers to opening!
Your shops doing really well now (not surprising as it's bloody STUNNING!) How did you decide what you wanted it to look like? Where did you find your main sources of inspo for your branding and as a consequence the look and feel of the shop?
I didn't initially have a really clear idea of how I wanted the shop itself when I started Gigil & Bloom but I did know that I wanted the branding to be clean and timeless, something that wouldn't become outdated quickly so I went for the clean-cut typography logo and worked from there. I was fed up of working in and walking into what I would call 'potting shed' florists, you know the ones, that have the same pots with the same flowers and butterflies on, the coloured cellophane and all that jazz? And again working off knowing what I didn't want, and also my family's more scandinavian/nordic style of decorating we came up with the look that Gigil & Bloom has today, with more than a little influence from that 'Instagrammable' look too!
Floristry is a huge industry - What makes Gigil & Bloom unique? / what's your fave thing about it that you're proud of. (I.e. the Tattie Sack!)
There are so many great florists out there, proper game changers and I do spend a lot of time looking to them for inspiration but what I think makes Gigil & Bloom unique is that we try to make the 'Instagram-worthy' floristry attainable for everyone. Floristry took a bit of a dip in the coolness stakes and it's begun to make it's comeback hard and fast so I think it's important to give it every opportunity to show everyone just how badass it can be. I am also immensely proud of our signature Tattie Sacks, our more eco-friendly take on the classic aqua-pack bouquet and unique to us in the UK!
Your instagram game is so strong! How important has Instagram been to getting leads/clients?
Honestly where would we be without Instagram? It would make our lives as florists a tad harder to say the least, it's a brilliant platform for interacting with customers, potential clients, brides and suppliers. It has been a massive contributor to our success, we're lucky to work with amazing photographers and customers who freely share content with us, and we take a lot of pride in the time we put into it. I have more recently been working on making our 'Insta-story' game stronger by being more interactive and sharing more content on there and the feedback has been incredible so just goes to show that people enjoy a more personable approach to a business page.
I know you invested in a branding photoshoot with Anna from Pearbear - What are the benefits to sharing who you are with the world/ why did you choose to do it?
Anna is one of my favourite photographers, so when she told me she was expanding into Branding Photoshoots I jumped at the chance to have her visit G&B although I was initially terrified at the thought of having my photo taken she's so easy to work with! I think although it is important to keep a business professional it is also important for customers to be able to put a face to a business. There are so many small, local businesses suffering at the hands of these large chain stores offering prices and a scale of products that local businesses just can't compete with, but what we small businesses do have, that the larger chain stores lack is personality, we have faces, we have names and we have quality and the ability to interact with our customers on a personal level, and I think that's something we have to nurture and put out there, to put a personality on a business so that customers feel like they know it better. Would you rather pop into G&B for a quick natter or be on hold to Andy from customer services for 45 minutes?
Could you summarise Gigil's first year into 3 valuable lessons you learned?
Value yourself and your time, it's easy when you are starting out to want to do favours for people or be scared to value your time in a monetary sense, but your time as a small business owner is valuable and although it is nice to do the odd favour for someone it is equally important that you don't undervalue yourself and your skill set.
Take time for yourself, I'm still guilty of going for weeks without a day off without even noticing until I'm down to my very last set of knickers and finding myself falling asleep sat in the shower and I wholeheartedly believe running your own business does - initially, and probably on some level always - take the inability to switch off from work away from you but I have learnt that occasionally taking a 'f**k it' day, afternoon or hour is important, the business won't burn to the ground, it won't collapse and you will be able to take on the world when you have taken the break you deserve.
Always, ALWAYS have an abundance of coffee to hand.
What does this summer look like for Gigil?
This summer looks spectacular, we were lucky enough to hit the ground running and the number of lovely couples who have entrusted their big day to us has been mind-blowing, so that's us for the summer, up to our earlobes in creating delicious wedding flowers.
And in the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve? (Don't worry if you've not thought about it yet!)
Oh goodness, I barely know where we are in the next 5 weeks never mind years, it has been a topic that has been cropping up more and more as of late though, with our first year being so successful thoughts have turned towards how we expand and finesse the company, ideally I'd like to get some more regular workshops on the go with maybe a little workroom separate from the shop. Who knows though, for now I'm happy with our little shop and throwing ourselves head first into the wedding side of our business!
Could you finish off with your top tips for aspiring florists? What has been the most helpful for you in terms of finding paying clients that share your creative vision?
Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio, as in any creative business, with floristry people want to visually see what you are about, your style, your ideas, the more experience you have the more you can adapt the basics to your own style and give it a bit of flair and personality. It's all very well and good having the qualification under your belt but if I couldn't tell your bouquet from Barbara's or Nelly's then it's not much use. The standard of floristry these days is mind-blowing, mostly because these florists have invested a whole lot of time creating new takes on old skill sets. And in this Instagrammable day and age everybody wants the next big, unique thing so it's important to take the time looking for inspiration and showing the passion.
Thank you so much for reading - You can explore more entries from the How to work weddings series below: