Let me introduce you to Farah of Georgie Baldwin Weddings/Events & Floral Design. Farah has been a loyal student at my classes. Here she is on her own words.
Tell me a bit about yourself
My name is Farah “Georgie Baldwin” I’ve been based in London’s Mayfair for close to 30 years I have enjoyed a very rewarding and successful career in accounting and finance. In more recent years our firm set up a charity and I was privileged to take on the additional role of Event Director organising fundraisers throughout the UK from large scale affairs, sit down gala dinners at the Park Lane Hilton to more intimate evenings at the Long Room at Lords. Friends and colleagues began asking me to organise weddings and parties for them and on reflection I guess that it where the yearnings first began. There is little that gives me more pleasure than to stand quietly in a corner of an event observing people really enjoying themselves and know that I, in some small part, have been able to make that happen. Theming and styling a venue was always one of the highlights of that part of my job.
What made you sign up for your first flower arranging workshop?
I have a dear friend who is a very keen and talented florist and whilst I have always admired her work I was a little in awe of what she was able to do, so when she suggested that I take part in one of Julie Davies flower workshops I literally laughed and asked her if she’d totally lost her mind! Anyway not one to miss out on the opportunity of lunch afterwards with the girlfriends for some reason, quite against my better judgement, I changed my mind and signed up.
The workshop was held in a village hall in Molash. It had snowed that morning and truly I had no expectations … I was going along for lunch afterwards with the girls. I remember from the moment I parked up and we got out of the car being taken aback, Julie had tied some “welcome” bunting outside and when we went in everything was laid out with such careful thought, our flowers, our tools all beautifully arranged and the vision I had of the “aged flower arranger” was kicked right out of the door. There was tea in china cups and cake … funny just how many tiny details I can recall, but I guess that it was happens when you have your very own epiphany, because that is what happened to me, right there and then in a snowy village hall in Molash. I’m naturally a bit of a joker, but as the class got underway and I began to concentrate I got quieter and quieter lost in my own zone with the flowers, a place I’d never been to before. I loved working with the flowers it stirred a passion in me, I was totally fascinated and although very amateur, in comparison to now, I was delighted with my final creation.
We did go on to have lunch afterwards and I know that I was unusually quiet for me, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had just happened to me and the only thing going through my mind was I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but for certain floristry is going to be have to be a major focus of my life from now on … and that is still my waking thought every morning and my last as I go to sleep each night.
How would you describe your style of floristry?
I’m not entirely sure that I’ve fully developed my own style as yet. When I first signed up with Julie on her Adult Education course I learned very quickly that there were certain colours that I was always drawn too but if really pushed I suppose I would say I am perhaps a little more contemporary than her other students. As the courses have progressed, and myself with them, I have dared to move my boundaries and not play it quite so safe, my choice of flowers is constantly changing as is my colour palette and I take inspiration from the strangest of places. Where I was happy to copy an arrangement in the early classes I strive to finish my work with something that identifies it as mine, ideas have started to flow and it never amazes anyone more than myself when they turn into a striking reality. I’ve become more daring allowing myself to think further outside the box then I would have once dreamed, I strive to work beyond my comfort zone because I am learning that that is where the magic happens.
What’s your favourite flower?
Julie asked me this at my first workshop and I said sunflowers – I love their colour the vibrancy and somehow they always made me smile. Eighteen months on and whilst I still love sunflowers I’ve realised that I can’t look at any flowers without them making me smile. I’ve developed a love of roses, am passionate for the perfume of peonies and marvel at the tiny detail of hydrangea heads, yes I’ve got it bad!
Tell me about Georgie Baldwin
Ha! ha! I’m a bit Jeckel and Hyde, Georgie Baldwin is my alter ego, the creative passionate one, as opposed to Farah Baldwin the sensible professional accounting head one! Seriously, there comes a point where you have to make a decision about whether you turn what appears to be an irrational thought “I HAVE to work with flowers” into a reality and eventually onto a business. Over the years I’ve witnessed first-hand many fledgling businesses grow and develop into successful profitable ventures and others trip and fall along the way. Because of my background I am more than aware of what a gamble starting out on your own can be and despite the passion and desire, the Farah in me was still holding things back.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from the strangest of places and sometimes when you least expect it. Mine began with that idea in Molash and was developing in my mind. In December 2013 my husband took me to Morocco to celebrate a significant birthday, we stayed in the most beautiful Riad in Marrakesh it truly was an exotic magical haven right in the heart of the dusty Medina. We were fortunate to strike up a friendship with the owner, a lovely Frenchman called Cyril Bernard. Like me, Cyril had a successful background in finance and had worked internationally, then he woke one morning and decided that he simply wasn’t going to do that for the rest of his life. He and his brother bought an absolute wreck of a place and set about turning it into the magnificent riad in which we were staying. Something about Cyril’s story and seeing him clearly so fulfilled, triggered the release button within me that said “do it, follow your dream”.
I came back to the UK energised with renewed vigour and within quick succession another meeting with a darling friend would prove pivotal. Two days after our return my husband and I were throwing a party to celebrate “that” birthday. Among our guests was a dear pal who I first met at drama school, Angie Brown. We’d asked Angie not only as a guest but also to sing that night too and whilst watching her perform I once more saw that joyful fulfilment that people get when they’re truly doing what they love the best and I knew for certain that I wanted that too.
Once the decision was made it all snowballed from then onwards. I was offered a fabulous opportunity to show some of my flowers by Perfect Day Marquees, to whom I shall always be eternally grateful, at their open weekend in April this year. Miles, the owner, suggested that I’d be wise to get some business cards printed and a website up and running which focused me and gave me the impetus and drive to move things on. It’s been a monumental learning curve, not just with the flowers but learning about branding, website design and promotion. You’re never too old to learn something new and every day it seems I am learning something.
Georgie Baldwin is still a wee bud at present but in time, with nurturing, love, skill and sprinkled with some good luck I hope that she will blossom into a beautiful bloom that I am proud of.
So, what’s next for you and your business?
For me personally, career/vocational training comes next. I’ve learned my skills from Julie Davies, who has been the most fabulous teacher and a great inspiration, now, if I am to go on further I need to continue to develop those skills and build on them. I still have much to learn if I am to make a successful business out of my passion, going to market to buy flowers, contracts, costing – the list is endless. So next stop London for training with an internationally reputed florist. Georgie Baldwin has already accepted commissions for styling for an 18th birthday party this Autumn and weddings next year, so onwards and upwards.
And one last thought?
Oh yes, thank you, two words that never ever seem sufficient … Julie Davies that first work-shop has literally been life changing for me, you are a truly magnificent teacher, an inspiring florist and constant source of encouragement and support. I have nothing but admiration and respect for you, I thank you for all that you have given me, the skills and confidence to set out on this journey. I have two wishes, the first, that our friendship continues to grow and flourish and that in time we come together again to work professionally beside each other.
I love you Julie Davies!!
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Georgie Baldwin here’s where you can find her:
Until next time, happy flowers! Julie
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