I met Rebecca Marsala from Gingerlily Flowers in 2012 whilst planning my own wedding and instantly fell in love with her style and passion for floristry. I had made up my mind even before stepping out of her beautiful home studio that she would be my wedding florist and I didn’t regret a single moment of it; I was awed by the gorgeous array of colours and aromas and pretty much wanted to train to be a florist then and there. Rebecca has now taken time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about what inspired her and how she came to run her own business.
What first motivated you to become a florist?
My aunt was a florist and I stayed with her for a couple of weeks when I was eleven years old. I loved helping with the flowers and made some dried basket arrangements – all the rage at the time! As soon as I arrived home, I told my mum and dad I wanted to be a Florist!
Where did you train?
At Myerscough College, Lancashire. I attended a two year apprenticeship when I was 16. I have since continued to do advanced day courses to keep my technique up to date and learn new trends. Normally once a year. This year I’m attending a Masterclass with the fabulous Laura Leong the Chelsea Gold Medalist.
What inspired the name ‘Gingerlily’?
My hair! I wanted to have ‘ginger’ in there somewhere and the Gingerlily is a beautiful white flower.
You have a gorgeous garden studio, what made you decide to set up your studio at home rather than in a shop?
I just wanted to focus all of my energy into the creative side, I know there is always the business side, no matter where you work or the size of your business, but I just felt the high street wasn’t the avenue I wanted to take. I love the freedom of being able to visit clients onsite, the relaxed atmosphere a studio provides and of course, the two step commute!
What is your favourite style to work with?
I love contemporary design, always the simplest of styles but often the most challenging technically.
Are there any particular trends you have noticed recently?
The vintage trend is still strong but there is a shift towards a very classic and traditional style. Less of the unruly boho ‘DIY’ style and more of a polished finish with classic containers such as Candelabras.
Where do you get your influences from?
Everywhere! I keep an eye on trends via florist forums and magazines but also fashion and interiors. A dress or beautiful crockery can inspire a design.
What does success mean to you?
Positive feedback from clients is the biggest reward for me. If a client tells me how much they loved their flowers, my job is done. Money is of course important, but not everything. I’m not trying to build an empire, just enjoying my job and my life. Trying to find a healthy balance is hard but it’s so important to be mindful of life outside the business and keep enjoying what I do.
What advice can you offer to anyone wanting to start their own business as a florist?
Be prepared to work very hard! It’s rewarding and a happy job to be in, but it is far from easy. Hours are long – I can easily work 12 hours a day and not bat an eyelid. A long day is 15 hours plus. I’ve worked 5am to 2am before now. That was a long day!
What is your current project?
Amongst the weddings, I have a charity ball to arrange flowers for. Around 15 tables, I have a free rein on the designs for the table centrepieces and we’re really excited about the ideas we’re discussing for them.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t think I have a set style, although clients often say they recognise my work, which is flattering to hear. I’m known for contemporary design, but the vintage trend has been so overwhelming the past few years, it has influenced my designs greatly.
Do you look to social media to further your business?
Absolutely, it’s vital these days and so easy to manage once you’ve got everything set up. Quick, easy updates each day using my phone is all it takes. Its great for connecting with people, spreading the word and stopping people forgetting you’re there!
Whose wedding would you most like to work on?
Ooh, probably a fashion designer – I imagine they’d want incredible displays. I’d love to do a wedding abroad – somewhere in France or Italy would be a dream.
Do you work as part of a team now your business has really taken off?
Yes, I have an amazing team. Sarah has been with me for 3 years now, from apprentice to florist – she’s a natural! Creative and determined. Helen is a fabulous experienced florist, happy 100% of the time and loves trying new designs, she keeps us all going! Sue is a freelancer and swoops in to help us a crazy busy times! Practically an angel!
We also have a couple of students who dip in during holidays, a huge help!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Netflix. I love film. Oh and internet shopping…I have little time to go to the shops!
How do you like to unwind?
Weekly Yoga session and going to the Cinema – both take my mind of work and allow me to have some ‘me time’. I walk my dogs twice a day, great way to de-stress!
What is your obsession at the moment?
Instagram, I love it. I’m a visual person, so a steady stream of snap shots from people all over the world is fabulous!
If you could up sticks where would you live?
I’d love a house in Italy!
What has been your greatest adventure?
Moving South! A Northern lass who moved south 12 years ago, no regrets and still discovering and loving the area.
What time of the day do you feel the most inspired?
It varies, normally either as soon as I wake up or when I’m going to sleep. I guess it’s when I’m most relaxed. I keep a note pad and pen by my bed to make notes if anything pops into my mind.
Also, when reading blogs or articles about other florists – it makes me want to do more and be more.
Who are your role models?
Great florists such as Paula Pryke, Joseph Massie, the late Jane Packer, the fabulous Caroline Marshall-Foster (editor of The Florist). They have all worked very hard and are passionate about the industry.
Then there’s my personal role models such as my wonderful parents. I love them dearly and they have taught me to work hard, respect others and be proud of who I am.