In conversation with ~ Hannah Hunnam.
Hannah Hunnam is an independent florist based in Castle Acre, West Norfolk, and focusses on colour, movement and seasonality in her floral arrangements.
Can you talk through how your business works?
I offer a range of floral services, from wedding flowers and event styling, to home flowers and weekly flower deliveries.
Whilst larger weddings and events are on hold, I’m primarily running my ‘Friday Flower’ deliveries across a large part of Norfolk, along with some private contract and home flowers, and the occasional micro-wedding. I’ve been so grateful to have these things to keep me busy on a weekly basis during these times. There’s just one of me, so I wear many hats within the business! From sourcing, conditioning, planning and creating the flower arrangements, to all of the usual tasks associated with running a business, then things like delivery route mapping, composting…and much, much more! I’m hopeful that by the end of this year, I’ll be able to get stuck into more events and weddings again (keeping my fingers crossed!).
When did you first take an interest in flowers? And what was it that you fell in love with?
Having studied English Literature at University, I began my career working at advertising agencies, then moved to a UX design agency which eventually led me back to Norfolk. It was at my second ad agency job that I started exploring a move into floristry as a career - but was terrified at the prospect of leaving the financial security of my full-time job and moving into something relatively unknown.
Through researching the industry and career prospects, and admiring florists’ work online via channels such as Instagram and Pinterest, my urge to pursue floristry grew. By 2016 I had managed to save enough funds to sign up for a professional floristry course at Jamie Aston’s flower school in London, which ran in the evenings after work. The style taught was very traditional and not entirely what I’d envisaged learning (such as creating floral Hat Boxes and floral Topiary trees - things I didn’t even know existed!), but it was great for learning the important foundations - such as caring for and conditioning your flowers, and the financial side of running your own floristry business. I knew after the first evening session that floristry was for me, I loved being able to lose myself for hours, focusing solely on the beauty of each individual flower, its meaning (the language of flowers!), and what I was creating.
Over the next few years I continued to attend workshops and courses, developing my own style as I went. A number of close friends got married which presented me with the opportunities to create their wedding flowers in exchange for gaining experience. It was in September 2019 that I finally felt brave enough to leave my job and focus on this full time, and officially set-up my business at the very beginning of the first lockdown last year.
What is your favourite season?
This is such a tough question! I love all of the seasons for different reasons, however, if I had to choose I would go with late Summer/Autumn. There is an abundance of flowers and a vast range of colours available, as well as so much luscious foliage to work with…and fruits! This, combined with the balmy evenings that Autumn brings. There’s just something really special about it.
What is your favourite installation?
My favourite recent installation is probably the Monica Vinader Christmas campaign I worked on towards the end of last year, for which I created a number of different arrangements – luscious foliage garlands for various tables and sideboards, fireplace mantelscapes, a giant wreath and some vase arrangements. All were made using entirely British grown foliage and all foam-free! The team were so friendly and welcoming too, and the entire project was really enjoyable from start to finish. The arrangements were made with a variety of eucalyptus, pines, spruce, cedar, juniper, larch and rosemary (amongst others), I can still smell them now! There’s something about the simplicity of textured greens arranged together which I think creates such gorgeous impact.
What inspires you?
I’m constantly taking in inspiration from my natural surroundings. My husband and I are extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy wonderful walks right on our doorstep here in Castle Acre. Incredible florists/floral stylists such as Ruby Mary Lennox, Shane Connolly, Yeon Hee, Gail Smith, Tattie Rose and Wagner Kreusch (to name a few), are a few that inspire me. There are so many more I follow that I love! I’m also inspired by artists, paintings, photographers, flower growers (Wolves Lane), antiques and interiors, ceramicists…the list goes on! I’m sure lots of people can relate to having a passion that drives a constant quest to learn and research - floristry is mine. I’ll spend hours reading books about flowers or by my favourite florists, and will often take part in online workshops if the opportunity arises. Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement I think is so beautiful, it’s one of my favourite things to get lost in visually.
Do you have a favourite flower?
This is another tough question! I have a few and the list often changes, I hope that’s OK…I adore snake’s head fritillary - its so graceful with its dainty, bowed head and chequered, patterned petals. I also love English roses for their delicious scents and overblown nature (we had lots of roses at our wedding in August 2019 - ‘Hot Chocolate’ is one of my favourites), and Dahlias of course (particularly Santa Claus, Tartan and Honka varieties). I have a bit of a thing for variegated petals…
What do you enjoy most about the process?
I really enjoy planning an ‘ingredients list’ for my work. Almost like a floral recipe! And I love the feeling of creating something specifically for a person, knowing that it will bring that person or those people great joy. I really believe that the entire gesture of planning, making, giving and receiving flowers is incredibly special.
How you begin designing a bouquet?
When I know who I’m designing the bouquet for, for example a bride or couple, we will always begin the conversation by talking about which flowers they love, if any particular flowers hold a significant meaning, and if there are any chosen colour schemes. We’ll then talk through which flowers are in-season, what I’m able to source, and plan which colours and textures will compliment each other best. I’ll then start thinking about the personality of the bride or couple, and how I can speak to them and make their hearts sing with my creation! If I don’t know the person (for example sometimes with my weekly Friday Flower deliveries), I am guided by what’s in-season, then move onto a complimentary colour and texture scheme!
How do you incorporate sustainability within your work?
There are many ways I try my very best to incorporate sustainability within my work - and also ways I could do better, I think it’s important to be honest about this.
In terms of packaging - I’m committed to not using any single-use plastics in my work. All of my flowers are wrapped in brown recyclable paper (sometimes with tissue paper too), tied-off with hessian string (natural and biodegradable) and transported in buckets of water. Flowers are left in jam-jars if recipients aren’t home, which can be re-used or recycled.
Then for my floral mechanics, I always design using sustainable methods. For example I may use chicken wire in hanging installations and urn arrangements, or make support structures out of broken twigs/branches instead of using floral foam which is carcinogenic and non-biodegradable. For smaller arrangements in bowls, as well as chicken wire I use pin-holders, or Kenzans as they’re also known - these are so fun for arranging flowers yourself!
In terms of the sustainability of the flowers I use in my work, it’s worth me saying that I’m not a flower grower or farmer - I simply don’t have enough land in my very small cottage garden! Yes, I am able to grow some flowers for my own personal cutting patch and can occasionally use a few stems in my arrangements, but unfortunately not on the scale required to support my work. I am, however, surrounded by some incredible growers relatively local to me in West Norfolk, and throughout the summer I was able to source and work with almost entirely locally grown flowers. This was made achievable by having access to the Flowers from the Farm network, going direct to growers on the Norfolk/Lincolnshire border, and using growers based in Cornwall. My mother-in-law also very kindly lets me cut from her incredible garden when it’s in full bloom!
During the winter months, I use both British-grown foliage and flowers where available, and also carefully selected imported flowers. Being perfectly honest, without these imports, it would be hard for my business to survive during these months.
What’s been your proudest achievement yet with your work?
Last year I had the opportunity to work on a couple of big projects with two global brands. I’m still pinching myself about these projects now, and feel proud I was able to have done this within my first year of operating.
What are your future plans?
I’d really love to continue partnering and collaborating with local and global brands in the coming months and years. And whilst the prospect of working on big weddings and events in the short-term is quite slim, I absolutely can’t wait to get back to the buzz of it all when we do return to some sort of normality. In the meantime I will continue researching and experimenting with designs (both small and large) at home, and putting my all into my weekly flower arrangements.
Learn more about Hannah Hunnam Flowers.