There’s nothing we love more than a bunch of fresh flowers (well, maybe a new dress but it’s a close one) so when it came to New Year’s resolutions there was no question that flower arranging was top of our list. Since we’ve already mastered floral dressing, we caught up with Kally Ellis, Founder and Managing Director of McQueens florists for a masterclass in the art.
Oasis – How and when did you begin working in the floral industry?
Kally – As strange as it may sound I had a dream 25 years ago that I should be a florist so acted on it and bought a failing business in Shoreditch. My plan was to run a small shop and present beautiful, stylish flowers to the people of East London!
Oasis – Wow! What made you stick with the flower business?
Kally – I love flowers! And I think every home should have them, they’re transforming, therapeutic and ephemeral. I love the business that I’m in and I have the most wonderful and loyal clients. I have a brilliant team behind me too and a business that I could never have imagined would result in a HQ, a shop in Claridge’s and an international flower school.
Oasis – Can you pick a a career highlight from all of that?
Kally – There’s too many to mention! Although styling the flowers for the Vanity Fair Oscars party is very hard to beat. When you are in the room with Hollywood’s best it’s a pinch yourself moment.
Oasis – Definitely, we’re very jealous! So where do you look for inspiration?
Kally – Everywhere. I love art, history, travel and I have a brilliant team who, despite some being untrained florists, are artists. I’m not a trained florist either but we’re proof that you can teach anyone to be a florist, but you cannot teach creativity.
Oasis – What advice would you give to anyone thinking of changing their careers or giving up their jobs to start their own flower business?
Kally – Ignorance is bliss. If I had known about the business of flowers I don’t think I would have followed my dream. Follow your gut, be brave and surround yourself with the best people that you can.
Oasis – What kind of floristry services do you offer?
Kally – We offer a corporate contract service, hotels, restaurants, retail, weddings and events.
Oasis – And what about the types of courses you run at your flower school?
Kally – The McQueens Flower School provides a variety of courses ranging from daily and weekly right up to professional level, month-long courses. We cover flowers for gifts, entertaining, weddings and master classes, all run at our brand new HQ based in London.
Oasis – What does a typical week look like at McQueens?
Kally – No two days are the same, that’s the beauty of the flower business. My day can begin with an early morning start at the flower market, followed by a meeting at Claridge’s to discuss a big wedding or an event. Then it could be a meeting with my team to discuss the creation of a table setting for the next big Vanity Fair party.
Oasis – Sounds very exciting! Finally, what’s your favourite flower?
Kally – I love all flowers, although I’m not keen on exotics. But if I had to choose one, it would be Lily of the Valley. The scent is so delicate and yet so pleasing, it’s around for such a short time which makes it even more desirable. The peony is also an amazing bloom in my opinion, it’s so romantic and nostalgic – they always remind me of my mother’s garden, she has the most fantastic green fingers.