A Flower Shop

A Flower Shop

There’s so much good stuff to write about the farm at the moment. We are reaping the rewards of autumn sowing, so there are actual green shoots in the ground, which is mad good news!

This time last year, there was the daily battle with bramblegeddon and the small tunnel wasn’t covered yet. We also had just entered the national lockdown… remember? HA! So, I’m going to say we’re making progress. 

I’ve been slightly more organised than the year before with planting bulbs. For the last 3 weeks, we have had a steady drip of armfuls of hyacinths, narcissi and fancy daffs (their names have washed off the labels in the past 3 months of daily rain, so I can’t give much in depth info about them) apart from the nice apricot one that everyone is messaging me about which is Apricot Whirl. It’s been a gentle and grounding reminder that plants just crack on with their life cycle.

I’ve started the seed sowing marathon for the summer annuals, maybe less intensively than some others growers, because I don’t have a glasshouse and the weather hasn’t been on my side and the tunnel is ripped (thanks wind) … but I’m in this game for the late night Autumn cutting in the sweet sweet September light. So, if I’m a bit behind everyone else, it’s ok (famous last words). 

Underneath all of this though, there has been the looming knowledge that we are coming out of lockdown and the acknowledgment that we are so far from what we were in February 2020. The thought of even returning to half of that life makes me feel nauseous. 

A long cry led us to 62 Chatsworth Road

Moving to Chatsworth Road was completely unplanned. A week before we ended up there, we were making plans to move into my flat as a temporary solution. Imagine 3 shops worth of stuff in a flat on the 10th floor. I had even cleared out cupboards to make way for vases. I should point out that this was before the extension to furlough was announced at the beginning of November and I was trying to do everything in my power to make sure we had enough work to keep the girls in a job. 

A late night Whatsapp after a very long cry in the shower led us to 62 Chatsworth Road, which was painted entirely navy blue inside and its previous occupiers having been a Thai takeaway. My feet stuck to the floor with every step I took, but it was a ground floor temporary answer to store the 3 shops worth of stuff I had accumulated.

The weekend went like this: We left the Ace Hotel after a day of trading on Saturday and moved everything to Chatsworth Road on Saturday night. We went back in to lockdown on Sunday and Monday morning I started making bunches for the online orders using some old legs and a shelf from the Ace shop as a table. 

We didn’t stop trading, not because I didn’t want to, but because I felt a responsibility to keep dragging my business out of the mud. Kind of like the boat that’s stuck in the Suez Canal. In this metaphorical scenario, I’m the tiny digger, which by the way in the real life scenario the digger is completely out of proportion to the size of the boat. I’m no expert, but I reckon they need a bigger digger. 

The calmness that came from being in one place just making bunches behind a shutter in a dark navy blue room with the lowest wattage of light bulbs I have ever known accompanied by the odour of grease was unfathomable.  

The girls were furloughed again and I worked there silently for weeks desperate for nobody to know I was there. The indulgence of this peace was mind blowing. I swear I made some of the best bunches of my life in those weeks. 

In between all of this, we painted away the navy with the help of our lovely driver John, and I’m not sure how, but  I was talked into to opening a pop up for Christmas, which we did for two weeks and then went back into lockdown. The irony. 

What’s next for us

Since then, I’ve been in a push pull state of mind of what happens next. The kindness and genuine interest of all the people we’ve met on Chatsworth Road has been overwhelming, humbling and enlightening. The thought of having a flower shop again terrifies me. I dedicated years of my life to shops that disappeared over night and showed me all the worst traits of my personality.

We also have a new arm to what we do. We love growing flowers. I love my anti commute to Kent every day and I love that I get the time these days to watch the sun rise in London and watch it set through fir tree windbreaks across the farm. This though is a much slower way of being in the industry and it is inconceivable that we could sustain a 6 or 7 day week whilst also honouring the slowness of this working method. I also feel like that would take from us all that we have gained in the past year. 

To honour all that we have learnt for the time being, here is our loose plan. From April 12th, it will go a little something like this:

  • Deliveries will be available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 
  • 62 Chatsworth Road will open Thursday to Sunday only.  
  • We need the extra time at the beginning of week to tend to the farm and do ad hoc flower and life admin.

If you live locally and need to order flowers for collection on a day the shop is not open, you can do that any day. Just send us an email and we will have something ready for you.

One final thing to note is that in light all that has changed – the serious downsizing and relocating – our new shop will be called ‘A Flower Shop.’ After all, that is just what it is. 

Hattie x

January at the farm

January at the farm

In a normal January, the floristry industry takes a deep breath in. We indulge in gloom – knowing that February is around the corner – and from then on in , we sail off into the sunset of March with armfuls of narcissi, mad tulips, billows of blossom and van sunrises before 7am.

I thought I was duty bound to perhaps write a post that used the concept of spring as a vehicle to push the idea of hope à la every influencer on Instagram. But as basic biology, photosynthesis and sense prevail, I can’t. It’s winter. It’s not spring. And if there was ever a January that was hard, it is this one. I hope that you have all revelled in the gloom of it all, lapped it up, and let it seep into every bone in your body.

At the farm, it’s all mud. All I see is mud, I dream in mud and I walk around wearing what Sarah from Nettlewood Flowers calls ‘clay clogs’ (really good leg workout ). If you’ve got clay soil, you’ll know what I mean. There’s some debris still to be cleared from last year’s annuals. I like to give myself one small task a day and if I manage to complete it, it’s a good day.

January at the farm has been a reminder to me that things need to be dormant in order to come back stronger, better and more vibrant. So this January, I’m going to channel my inner hydrangea, stay gloomy and come out for a good time in August. 

Meet the sole object of my affection this winter

This time last year, I was cutting snowdrops, dwarf iris, and other short stems perfect for the shot glasses that can’t be used during dry January. I didn’t plant any this year. I think I arrogantly decided I had bigger fish to fry and ultimately tiny stems don’t sell. They’re the OG culprit of a florist’s indulgent tendencies.

This year, the arrival of some very early, very skinny and sporadic Icelandic poppies have blessed my kitchen table and no doubt bored you to death on social media. If I’m honest, they were an experiment but have been the sole object of my affection, as they are the only flower giving me anything to write home about at the moment, quite literally. 

English grown poppies are so very different to handle, especially when you are used to the sturdy cabaret performance normally put on by their Italian relatives. They are skinny and sporadic. Sometimes lasting for a day, sometimes for a week.  You’ll be lucky if you have two in full bloom in your vase at once before one starts wilting and another starts to unravel. They are delicate beyond belief and move and grow towards the light in a way I haven’t seen in any other flower. So far I’ve not managed to part with many, but I’m working on letting go and getting them into the bunches slowly but surely. 

Getting forced into a spring submission

Despite my self deprecating tone, I have been forced into a spring submission. As I start to see the first shoots emerging on the farm, I see life creeping back into the patch: the first fritillaria, muscari and hyacinth lifting their weary and waterlogged heads and I get a resounding feeling of hope for the future. I know that the next few months will bring days that echo the pre-Corona days.

We will watch tulips unfurl in the soft spring light of the new studio, knowing they are too old to sell but too captivating to compost. There will be days when the scent of the narcissi is overwhelming and someone says the studio smells like wee. The hyacinth itch will give somebody a terrible allergic reaction, but it will all be worth it for the sensory experience that can normally only be achieved by really fancy perfume shops and ultimately nobody will want to pay for the expensive frits. But we love them, so we will just watch them die, their snakeskin petals fading as they open up into a full star formation before a death defying confetti shatter on their final day. It will be enthralling, even though we were complicit in their death penalty. 

The patch for me is a place of solace. It’s somewhere to dig deep into the inherent knowledge of plants that have been subtly handed down to me from my farming lineage. A distraction and a place to stop, heal and I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on you here but grow. 

It would be easy to say that we waded through last year’s turbulent events and imply it was similar to swimming in mud. Truth be told – it was as if we fell from a great height into a cowpat that was precariously perched on a riverbed, which we then slid into and got lost downstream, only to emerge in a dam of never ending lockdowns and tier 4 cycles as did almost everyone.

My message here really is stay sad, choose your favourite annual or perennial of choice and live like that flower because there really are brighter and more abundant days ahead. 

Hattie x

Our sustainable intentions for the new year

Our sustainable intentions for the new year

Happy New Year to all of you – we hope you and yours are safe and well in what are still very strange times.

We can’t thank you enough for your support last year. We all went through a lot and, more specifically as a business, we made some pretty big changes. Although it’s been tough, I really think these changes are all for the best, and actually are so exciting. It’s been a comfort and a catharsis to know we’ve made positive reflection, growth and changes over in our little corner despite everything being put through the wringer. 

A push to a different path

Last year’s events gave us the push to and almost demanded that we make some huge changes in regards to our supply chain, our product offering and the way we worked. I feel like this changed about a million times between tiers, lockdowns, trade deals, new shops, old shops, new strains, the list goes on…

In short, we are more sustainable, responsible, independent and transparent than we’ve been ever before. We want to keep growing on this path because despite the achievements of last year — the debut of The Patch, being able to fulfil nearly all of our orders for most of the year using only homegrown flowers and foliage, working with and truly honouring seasonality, expanding our gift and homeware offering to include loads of other small businesses & Black-owned businesses and independent makers and improving the sustainability of our packaging — there’s still lots that we are still learning and more that we can and want to do. 

Our journey of working seasonally continues

As we try to gently wade through this third lockdown and the winter season, we’re thinking of what this year brings for our business and how this journey of growing and working seasonally/sustainably continues…

The last few months and the new realities of Brexit have shown us at TFS more than ever how much of a treasure our Patch and the ability to grow more and more of our own flowers is. And how necessary it is now to find produce on a whole closer to home. This is going to be a huge focus for us this year.

We’re growing more varieties and colours. We’re trying to grow a larger quantity of everything. We’re hoping to prolong the seasonal periods of our flowers for as long as we can to bring you homegrown flowers for as much of the year as possible! A huge hope is to also be able to supply our flowers to other florists too. Stay tuned and get in touch for this!

It’s been amazing already to see what can be achieved growing and buying British flowers instead of importing from far and wide – and knowing how much better for the planet and people involved this is. I can’t wait to see what spring brings us. 

Stay safe,

Keia

Our favorite Black-owned businesses at TFS

Our favorite Black-owned businesses at TFS

A few months ago, we began making lots of changes to That Flower Shop to further align the way the business runs with the values that are important to us as both florists and individuals. We care about environmentalism, human rights, equality and intersectionality as much as all the facets of our jobs and this industry, but we had been all too aware that many of these important conversations and changes just aren’t happening within floristry as much as they should be.

As a micro business, sometimes it can feel daunting to embark on these kinds of efforts. After all, how big a change can just a couple of people arranging flowers make? But I think these individual choices and a growth in education, awareness and (most importantly) real action on an individual level begin to lead real, lasting change. 

Not only did we address the sustainability and ethicality of our flower and homeware supply chains over lockdown, we made a concerted effort to ensure that, in a team too small to expand or diversify further, we were tackling our own anti-racism education and action on an individual level as well as prioritising space in TFS to support Black-owned businesses, Black creatives and makers, and the Black Pound. 

With October being Black History Month, I wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing Black-owned brands and products we stock here at That Flower Shop:

LIHA

A natural beauty brand with a range of beautiful, multi-use products. Combining African tradition and London attitude to create butters, oils and candles that we love. Having purchased and used some of these myself, I was so excited to become stockists of theirs at TFS. We’re suckers for chic packaging here and everything from Liha looks, smells and feels both cool and luxurious. 

Favourite? I love the IDAN Oil in my hair, it helps with styling and keeps it soft but also smells so good that it basically doubles as a perfume too.

LIHA Idan Oil
Idan is the Yoruba word for magic, which is the only word to describe this sublime moisturising oil.

MAYA NJIE


Maya hand mixes and pours beautiful, artisanal unisex perfumes in small batches here in London. Inspired by her Swedish and West African roots and family nostalgia, all of Maya’s scents are almost warm and familiar and come with times, places and sounds in mind. I especially love that each purchase is refillable too – so hold onto your bottle when you’re done.

Favourite? TOBAK. Much earthier and woodier than my long-time go-to scent, I like this when I want something different. I love wearing more masculine scents sometimes but am always put off by too much of a cologne-y punch. TOBAK is warm, leathery, musky and delish.

MAYA NJIE Tobak Eau De Parfum
A dark, pointed yet comforting scent composed of sweet smoky notes of tobacco leaf, vetiver, and warm hints of cinnamon.

CREMATE


Junior’s incense from Cremate brings all the ritual and nostalgia of lighting your favourite old Nag Champas but has upped the ante with beautiful, thoughtful and sustainable packaging as well as two incredible unique scents that will blow out your old sticks for good. All hand-made and hand-dipped in England, all tins are also refillable. I never don’t have these at home anymore.

Favourite? Mary Mother of God. Apparently made with the more advanced incense-r in mind, this scent isn’t like any other I’ve had at home before. Frankincense is paired with more unusual lemongrass and lavender and is both fresh and familiar at the same time.

Cremate Incense
More than incense, Cremate represents a lifestyle, a sense of mind, a reminder that time is of the essence, enjoy it.

I encourage all of you to check them out as well as looking even further too! It’s important we diversify all aspects of our education and day-to-day consumption and spending to support Black businesses, creators and makers. Not just during Black History Month but every day of the year.

What are your favourite Black-owned brands and why?

Take care,
Keia
x

We’re moving our world online

We’re moving our world online

As our big brother Ace Hotel London and big sister Hoi Polloi are moving out of home, we can’t stay without them. It is with sadness that we announce our departure from The Ace Hotel. Throughout the years, we’ve been lucky to connect with the most wonderful customers, many of whom have become close friends to us all.

That Flower Shop | Ace Hotel
That Flower Shop in Ace Hotel

We will miss the countless long days, early mornings and late nights. The inimitable Valentine’s Days and the chorus of the boozed up Saturday morning brunchers as they leave Hoi Polloi. The  jet lagged hotel guests arriving in the shop and asking for directions to the Ace Hotel and the forever young bell girls and boys bringing us our post and sometimes healthy juices, sometimes sly cocktails.

Shoreditch has been our home for over 10 years and we will be sad to leave all that it offers.  However, we are moving our world online where we will continue to share with you our homegrown flowers from my tunnels in Kent and the abstract creations when I take a brief in the wrong direction. The online shop will continue to operate as normal as will our phone line, so keep on calling us because we will miss the sound of your voices. 

It will be the first time since I was 18 that I haven’t worked in or had to a physical flower shop of some sorts, so this digital life feels like uncharted waters but makes sense in these mid pandemic times. 

Hold on though, don’t go yet! 

We are not leaving until the end of October and we plan to keep the shop bursting with good stuff until our very last day.

Here’s a snippet of what we have in store now:

As a little gift, enjoy the masters of Ann Vincent’s candles. You can shop the sets or buy the singles. The singles are great to pair with the miniature seasonal bouquet, as a thoughtful but not over the top gift and perfect for the person who doesn’t have a vase, and cup or mug will fit these. 

Ann Vincent SOLE Set Trio | Soy Wax Blend
Ann Vincent’s SOLE Set Trio: A soy wax blend with a burn time of  +- 30h/set.

Our most popular bouquets to send out are the Seasonal Bouquets in White and Hot Tones because they are eternally evolving as the seasons change and we change with them. Or if you want to send somebody something special choose from the different sized Hattie’s Choice bouquets, where I select my favourite delicacies of the week. 

Hattie's Choice | Seasonal Bouquet
Hattie’s Choice: A dramatic, textural and artistic hand-tied bouquet made using British seasonal flowers and foliage.

And what’s next?

We will be exactly the same – if not better – as we no longer have to navigate the sometimes eternal stream of hotel and restaurant guests. 

We will have much more time to explore and explain the importance of working seasonally. To inform you about why it’s so important that we take into account the seasons and the products that we work with to  minimise our impact on our industry and the climate to work in as mindful and as sustainable a way as possible.

 So, keep following us here and on our instagram @hattieflower. Don’t be a stranger because there’s so much more coming. 

x Hattie