Huge thanks to Rachael Roby - founder of Olive + Blossom - for guest posting for me this week. After a convoluted online introduction (we florists are friendly like that) Rachael has agreed to share her path into floristry and how she’s found the space and confidence to be creative.
Making change happen
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Julie after hearing lots about her work. After chatting through our experiences and backgrounds it was clear that making change happen and enjoying seeing others develop and grow was something we both had in common (aside from a love of flowers of course!). Julie suggested I write a little about my career path into floristry to share my experiences. So, here goes - I’m Rachael and I am the co-founder of Olive + Blossom. We provide creative floristry-based team building sessions for businesses.
When starting out on your own the advice you’re often given is to do what you know, and after a career spanning over 15 years in Human Resources (working among some super clever IT bods and media creative minds, with a detour through a beautiful luxury online flower business) in 2016 I was finally able to put my years of planning into action. My partner Tim and I decided to combine my team building skills and love of floristry with his design and business know-how, and Olive + Blossom was born.
The first step towards making a change
When you put it like that it sounds simple, but rewind ten years and, whilst I already knew I wanted to explore my creative side and move on from the traditional career I’d always been advised to take, finding the best way to make it happen wasn’t easy. In 2007 I decided to enrol myself on a City and Guilds floristry course through Farnborough College whilst continuing with my chartered HR qualifications, an MCIPD.
Looking back I’m not sure what I expected of the course and remember being more than a little nervous when I arrived on the first evening. I wish something like Julie’s FlowerStart course had existed at the time to give me a flexible platform through which to start off my floristry journey. But despite the nerves I went into the class positive that it was a first step toward making a change, a chance to do things a little differently. The biggest challenge I had early on was finding the space and confidence to be creative – after 10 hour days facing the usual deluge of emails, performance reviews, company restructures and challenging team environments, it didn’t leave much room or energy to get inspired. But I persevered and had an enormous amount of fun along the way.
After the course opportunities to put my newly acquired floristry skills to good use came thick and fast – wedding flowers for friends, work experience in a local florist, setting up and running an online store for Christmas Wreaths, and then a chance to work as Office/HR Manager for a luxury online flower company. All together a truly wonderful range of floral and business experiences.
Olive + Blossom
So, how then did Olive + Blossom come about, and why did it take me so long to get here? Well, truth be told it took me a while to feel like I’d built up enough experience and learnt all the requisite skills needed to pass on my knowledge and support others in their personal goals and business objectives.
Through the team building days I now run I’m able to help teams deal with collaboration and conflict issues, develop communication and leadership skills, or even just add a little calm to a team with a session focused on mindfulness. All the while getting to impart a healthy dose of floristry knowledge in each session. Our goal is to help teams overcome whatever challenge is holding them back, while allowing time for fun, the chance to learn a new skill, and enjoy a shared experience which brings the team together.
It’s been a long journey to get here, but it feels like we’ve only just begun. My advice to anyone starting out would be to keep playing and be confident in your own ability.
If you’d like to know more about what we do, please say hello! Either email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our Facebook and Instagram. We’re also running a one-off Mother’s Day workshop special – a chance for families to come together for a few hours of mindful creative fun – at Macknade Fine Foods in Faversham. You can find all the details here.
5-day FREE mini-course
If Rachael's story has inspired you to to find your happy with flowers this week don’t forget you can amaze your friends with your knowledge about getting your flowers to last longer by signing up here for access to my FREE five-day mini course.
Until next time, happy flowers!
If your flower arranging skills need a bit of a boost, perhaps you’d like to find out more about my 4-week online flower arranging class - click through to my post on Frequently Asked Questions.