100 bouquets in a day

Rachael Barker is Petalon’s floristry machine. We tried to work out how many bouquets she has made for us in the last year and we struggled. It’s a 4 figure number though. Maybe 5 figures.

There are lots of different types of floristry and they require lots of different skills. To make a great centrepiece you need patience, a clear idea of where you’re headed and an appreciation for the 3 dimensional aspect of your creation. For a still life Instagram creation you need the sort of attention to detail and perfectionism that can make everyday tasks quite troublesome. To work in contract flowers you need the hardiness to work in a van at 5am and the speed required to install it in the hotel lobby before the punters come in.

Rach combines all of these attributes (and more) - she’s got speed, attention to detail and artistic flair while being conscientious and hard as nails. As a result, she is a mega-florist. But what’s it really like to be Petalon’s bouquet-florist-in-chief?

What annoys you about working at Petalon?
"I get frustrated that when you feel like a bouquet is missing something. At Petalon I can’t just add more in, I need to work within the plan”
Sometimes when you’re frustrated with a bouquet the simplest answer feels like adding more flowers. If you were doing wedding floristry you’d just grab any of a number of things and add them in. But making Petalon bouquets involves sticking to a formula so that all of the bouquets are the same (though obviously no two bouquets are ever exactly the same). It’s harder work sometimes, but working within constraints is always going to be a part of creative work in real life, especially if you want to have a functional business! Learning to work with what you have teaches you the discipline that means you can always make the most of what you have.

What do you love about working at Petalon?
I love getting in to a rhythm”.
When you’re on good form floristry feels so easy, and that’s especially true with Petalon bouquets. When the flowers we’re using that week are great shapes, textures and colours they all fit together so easily and without thinking I’ll have put together 10 bouquets I’m really proud of. That kind of flow is what makes great work so great, and on those days it’s such a treat to be a florist. A good playlist is often a big help in getting there!

Do you have some advice for the aspiring florists out there?
If it doesn’t feel right, don’t try and pull it in to shape or add things until it does. Just put it down, take it apart and start again. Rushing never works, nor does heavy editing.

People receive their flowers in real life, not on Instagram, so your arrangements need to feel three dimensional. Depth is often what distinguishes an OK bouquet from a great one.

Work with people you love. This sounds cheesy, but the atmosphere in the workshop doesn’t just make it a nice place to be, it makes floristry so much more enjoyable. There’s no way that a creative process like floristry isn’t better quality when you’re with great people.

Florence Hill