With its floristry studio on Camden Road, Darling & Wild offers a wide range of flowers for weddings, sympathy and delivery. Owner Lara Haynes explains why her clients are looking for a more ‘naturalistic approach’, and how quality over quantity is at the heart of everything she does
Tell us how Darling & Wild began
II started the business in 2004, concentrating mainly on ﬂowers for weddings It is only in the last two years that I’ve opened the studio, which is a place to work, but also a space where people can see what I do. Many moons ago I worked in television, but I’ve always had a love of gardens and the countryside, so much so that I went and volunteered in a ﬂorist on a Saturday morning in Sydney, Australia. I loved it so much that I left my job and went off back to college to learn the basics in Sydney and then further training in London when I came back here in 2000. I was freelancing in London, so it was only when I moved down to Tunbridge Wells that I started the business.
What do your wedding services entail for clients?
From an initial consultation, I ascertain what sort of style their wedding is, whether it’s in a barn, a tipi or a beautiful country house or hotel. The ﬂowers need to suit the venue and follow the overall theme for their day, so it’s a chance to talk about their plans for the day, their likes and dislikes. From this meeting I can provide a quotation that would include everything from bridal bouquets, to the rest of the bridal party, including bridesmaids, ﬂower girls, buttonholes and corsages. Then I consider the ﬂorals required for the venue and church from large scale installations to the smallest details.
Any particular highlights since you started?
Working on a television programme for ITV was great experience, the ﬂowers needed to be fresh everyday and installed in the venues around Kent.
In 2015 I was the regional ﬁnalist for the Wedding Industry Awards – regional covering London and the South East, That was quite nice because only brides who I’d worked with in the last 12 months could vote for me. I’ve also made the shortlist for the 2016 UK Wedding Awards, which is a national competition, so I’m one of 12 people who made the shortlist.
Are there many trends that are popular at the moment?
For weddings, my brides are choosing a very naturalistic approach. People are always saying they just want ﬂowers that look like they’ve been picked from their garden, so nothing too tight or contrived anymore; I prefer to use lots of foliage, which really makes the ﬂowers stand out and highlights their beauty. There’s deﬁnitely a trend for seasonal, quite often English ﬂowers which is a style I love to work on. I use a couple of places locally that have cutting gardens where you can go and gather the ﬂowers yourself. In the summer it is lovely to include locally grown ﬂowers rather than importing everything.
Do you also offer workshops?
Yes! Informal workshops are held in the studio. They’re generally in spring to show people how to do hand ties and arrange ﬂowers in a vase. I do lots of wreath making classes at Christmas time, but generally don’t put anything on in the summer because I’m so tied up with weddings. On the studio front, I buy stock in and encourage people to order online or by phone in advance. I buy a small amount in every day, so I basically buy to order. This way my customers know they are getting the freshest of ﬂowers.
How was Valentine’s Day for you this year, and what can customers expect for Mother’s Day next month?
Valentine’s Day was a lot bigger than I anticipated, which was good. Mother’s Day is usually a very busy time but, because it’s me and a very small team here, I can’t produce 500 bouquets in three days, so I tend to decide what it is I’m going to create and then take orders for this. I had a special bouquet for Valentine’s called a Wild Romantic, which was available in three sizes for people to order. I didn’t do any red roses, which my wholesalers thought was very brave! I’m personally not a big fan of red roses, and I think most women would prefer to get a pretty, soft, pastel bouquet, so that’s what I did. Mother’s Day will be the same; I’ll make up a couple of signature bouquets, which will be available to order. There will be a limited number, and once they’re gone, they’re gone, because it’s quality over quantity, which is the way I work.
And the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s a bit of everything. Being creative gives me enormous pleasure, choosing the stock at market is like being a child in a sweetshop with so many beautiful ﬂowers to choose from and it’s lovely when you’re given free rein, when people are conﬁdent with what you do and feel comfortable enough to give you creative control. It’s little things like getting a ‘thank you’ card or a text message saying how fabulous it is. People ring especially to say ‘thank you’, which is so nice because it’s a reward for the hard work.
I put almost as much time into the thought and buying process as I do into making it up sometimes, so it’s nice to know it’s appreciated.
Finally, what are your hopes for the future?
To be a little busier! I have a lovely band of really loyal clients many whom I can now call friends, but there is always room for a few more. I would like to work on more private events as they have different requirements to weddings and variety is the spice of life. There is nothing more exciting than being given a really interesting brief working with clients who share my vision. When this happens you know you’re going to be able to create something wonderful!