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10 Years of Frances & Rose

So rather than sit and write out my CV and tell you how I even got to this point, I’m going to do some shameless plugging of my new podcast and point you in that very direction for the ‘background’ bit to this saga. I’ve been interviewed by the incredible Lauren O’Sullivan and we go into all the various ups and downs that lead me to this day. So hop over there and give it a listen, then come straight back here so I can share some more self indulgent entertainment in the form of this blog. 10 Years of France & Rose can only mean one thing - the Top 10 bits of the last decade!

1. Progress

It’s not really a huge surprise that my work has come on a lot since that first time I picked up some flowers in 2013, but I thought it would be interesting/funny to put my first arrangement next to something I did in the last 6 months to really show my progress as a designer, photographer and appreciator of nature over this past decade. I’m also amazed at how quick I am at my work now, it used to take me hours to do anything back then and now I can whip up a bouquet in 5 minutes. What is it they say, it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something - I think I’m well over that time limit by now, so here’s hoping I can now call myself an expert flower faffer (I’m definitely an expert faffer, that’s for sure!)

2. Discovering the British flowers movement

As you can see from the above, my knowledge of the flowers I was using was limited when I came to them 10 years ago. I knew a few basic names and I knew I liked sweet peas because it’s something my mum had always grown. If you’d told me back then that not only would I know all the names of flowers I saw in an encyclopedic way but that I would have written and published a book on the subject and be known as a flower farmer I would have never believed you. The discovery of British flowers, very early on in my floral journey, opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for me. From delicate wildflowers to show-stopping dahlias, the range of colors, textures, and scents that these blooms offed was truly breathtaking and very quickly I was completely captivated by the unique and ever-changing selection of blooms.

Working with these flowers allowed me to create arrangements that were not only beautiful and unmatched by imported flowers (in my opinion), but were also sustainable and environmentally friendly. This grew (pardon the pun) to be one of the pillars of what I do and I joined Flowers From the Farm and never looked back!

As if I need to give any more reason as to why I love growing and using British flowers, but the handle it’s given me on the nature of seasonality has been amazing for my creativity and my wellbeing too. I connect with the seasons and the cycles of nature in a much deeper way than I did before, despite growing up in the countryside! So here’s to the flowers, I couldn’t do it without you my friends.

3. Finding an incredible community

We all know that having a supportive group of other small business owners around you can be “extremely beneficial for the growth and success of your business”, but let’s put that generic chit chat aside and just say it how it is - without my business pals I would be nothing! The never ending, unwavering support, encouragement, knowledge sharing, the shoulders to cry on, the suppliers of strawberry laces the night before a deadline, the hand holding, the cheerleading - they’ve done it all. My business pals have the ability to push me to overcome any obstacle and to inspire me to reach new, dizzying heights. There are people who I’ve met though running my business that have crossed over the line from peer and colleague to life long best friend and I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every one of you. Some people say running a solo business is lonely, I’d say its more like lucky!

4. Amazing weddings

I’ve done many different things during this career path, but the one constant that has always remained is the wedding work I am honoured to do. It has been an incredible journey of 10 years in weddings and the excitement of working with couples to bring their dream wedding to life never ceases to amaze me. the thrill of working with nature's most beautiful creations, and the fulfilment of being a part of one of the most important days of someone's life, are just a few of the reasons why I am so grateful to have found my calling as a wedding florist.

One of the things I love most about my work is that each wedding is different. Each couple has their own unique vision for their special day, and it is my job to bring that vision to life through the use of flowers. I have had the opportunity to work with couples from all walks of life and have been inspired by their love stories, their personalities, and their style.

5. RHS medal

Some of you may remember my RHS Chatsworth fiasco, some may not, but back in 2018 I was lucky enough to design and build, along with an incredible team, the Flowers From the Farm display at RHS Chatsworth. As a florist and grower, winning an RHS medal is one of those moments you really do dream of, you wander round shows, watch them on the telly and you never think that one day you might actually win one! At the time, I honestly thought I’d not done well enough as we’d ‘only won bronze’ but now it’s one of my proudest achievements I tell everyone about. It was a recognition of my passion for flowers and validation of the countless hours we all spent perfecting our craft and growing our flowers. I think its also safe to say that we got a lot of the general public engaged with the British flowers movement that week, at certain points in the day you could barely see our stand because there were so many people crowded round it! I like to think, if there had been a Public Choice Award we would have won ❤️ As for the actual medal, I’m sure it’s somewhere in my studio, but I should probably frame it and stare at it much more often.

6. Loving workshops

Another ‘if you’d have told me 10 years ago’ scenario is the fact that I have fallen in love with teaching! Discovering the joy of running creative workshops really did come out of nowhere and it has been such a turning point for me in my business and personal journey. As an artist and super creative person, I have always been drawn to finding new ways to express myself and share my passions with others, but I never really thought about running workshops as a way to bring others into my world. I always thought the only way to share was to just make for others, but diving into developing creative workshops with flowers and exploration at their core has allowed me to share even more of what I love, whilst also helping others tap into their own creativity and find fulfillment in the process. It's amazing to see the transformation that can happen when people are given the space and encouragement to let their creativity run free.

7. Publishing a book!!

Becoming a published author is something I could never have imagined being possible, not in a million years! I’ve wanted to write a book since I knew what books were and I genuinely don’t think the reality of this achievement will ever really sink in. The journey to publication was not an easy one by far, the process of writing, editing and photographing required a discipline and dedication that was so new to the way I usually work, it’s so very different to flowering a wedding! But that opportunity for me to push my boundaries and to learn and grow as a writer was a really treasured experience and the feeling of holding my first book in my hands really was beyond words.

Available in all good book shops 🤭

8. Strawberry Hill House Flower Festival

This one was definitely a career highlight. You can read my full Strawberry Hill House blog post here, but to put it in a nutshell, pure creativity, amazing British blooms at my very favourite time of year, a whole host of incredible growers and artists who I respect and admire and a really fantastic Thai meal with an unfortunately horrible drink (if you were there, you know the face I pulled). This Flower Festival has been on my career bucket list since I knew it existed, so to say I ticked it off the same year that I published my book has got to be some sort of double whammy record for me 🙌🏻 The blog post has all the info and all the pictures and is a much shorter read than this.

9. Working out who the hell I am

Who knew that running your own business would be such an intensive and exhausting journey of self discovery?! The personal journey of growth and transformation has been something I could have never anticipated when I was just playing with flowers all those years ago. But when you start something so young (I was only 23) and it grows with you through some of the most formative years of your life, it can be hard to know what has been life experience and what has been down to running a business. My conclusion is that it’s definitely a mixed bag of both, I am Frances & Rose and Frances & Rose is me.

If we’re talking about a mixed bag, the rollercoaster of both challenges and rewards that have come with this business owner beast have taught me more than anything. I’ve had to pick myself up after rough patches and work out the next right move for my business all by myself, and this has pushed me right outside of my comfort zone so many times. But with that uncertainty and the never ending questions and development, the rewards have been immense. It has helped me to become a more confident, self-assured, and hopefully authentic person.

10. Surviving

As a small business owner, surviving and thriving for 10 years is a remarkable accomplishment and something to be incredibly proud of (especially during and after a pandemic!). Starting and running a business is a challenging and often unpredictable journey, and the fact that my business has not only survived, but thrived, is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and passion that I have invested in it.

Over the past 10 years, I have faced countless obstacles and challenges, but I have also experienced moments of great triumph and success. Through it all, I have learned valuable lessons, made connections with customers and colleagues, and grown both personally and professionally.

Surviving for 10 years as a small business owner is no small feat, and it is a testament to the resilience, determination, and ingenuity that is required to succeed in today's competitive business landscape. To know that my business has made a positive impact on my community and that I have been able to create meaningful work for myself and others is truly gratifying.

So there it is, the (fairly self indulgent) highlight reel of my last 10 years of being a creative small business owner. Celebrating a decade of running this rollercoaster really is a proud moment, and I feel so lucky to be able to reflect on what I’ve done in such a positive way. Thank you for reading this far and supporting me in all the wonderful ways you do, this business would be nothing without my community and I’m so lucky for all the times and all the ways I get to interact with you wonderful humans.

I know it’s a cliche to say that I’m excited to see what the future holds, but I really am… here’s to the next 10 years and beyond!

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