Monday, 17 December 2012

Interesting Insights - Interview with Tania McLaren, The Kitchen Table Florist

Having recently discovered a love for flowers and their colours i came accross a wonderfull website while searching for local people in the know.  Making Bouquets, varse diplays and seasonal arrangments for events, corporate and the public, whilst also teaching adult and children workshops, allow me to introduce; Tania McLaren of The Kitchen Table Florist.

Seasonal Arrangment - Halloween
Sara Prebble: What inspired you to start The Kitchen Table Florist?
Tania McLaren: From a young age I have always loved flowers and regularly had “a bunch of flowers” at the top of my Christmas and Birthday list.  Having put my career in marketing on hold to bring up my 4 girls I decided to use the time I had at home to retrain and learn to do something I was passionate about so went to floristry school and began doing flowers for friends from my kitchen table.  Once my youngest started school I was keen to turn my passion into a business so looked for gaps in the market.  Where I live in North London we are lucky to have several very good florists but none were offering the opportunity to learn how to create simple arrangements so the original business idea grew.    I am now offering floristry workshops for adults and run flower parties for children.  My aim is to pass on simple skills and ideas for displays that can be easily recreated at home and to give them the confidence to make their own arrangements.    On the other side of the business, the bouquets, contracts and gift giving, I buy to order to am able to offer a strong degree of tailoring to suit a client’s needs which has proved very popular.  I provide everything from a tiny arrangement for a downstairs loo (yes – really) to flowers for every room in a house just about to be photographed to go on the market.

Sara Prebble: Is there a trend and style for flower arrangements and if so how do you keep up with it?

Tania McLaren: There are very strong trends in flowers which, as with fashion, are often cyclical.  Individual flower varieties fall in and out of favour (gypsophilia has seen a welcome return recently – massed together in large bunches by itself it is both cheap and can be very beautiful ) and colour trends are constantly varying.  The simple hand tied bouquet continues to be a firm favourite for both gift giving and bridal use although there seems to have been a move away from very structured bouquets and a return to natural looking, loose styles.

Recyling continues to drive a trend towards re-using old containers for floral arrangements where “anything goes”.  Jam jars, tea cups, medicine bottles and tea pots are all being used regularly complementing the trend for more natural displays.  I am forever scouring charity shops for my next container!  British grown, & seasonal,  flowers are also being increasingly requested as we all try to reduce our carbon footprints.

In terms of flowers and displays, succulents are proving popular this year in floral arrangements and increasingly I am seeing clematis being used as a cut flower.

There are some fabulous blogs and publications in the floristry world which I read and follow but Fusion Flowers is perhaps my favourite ( featuring exciting and dramatic floral arrangements from some of the world’s leading floral designers.

Sara Prebble: Does your background in marketing help with getting your own brand noticed?

Tania McLaren: My background in marketing has proved useful on a number of levels.  Firstly I was keen to offer a point of difference from my competition so undertook research to identify gaps in the market locally and an area where I could add value in an already crowded market.  My financial training played a strong role in my decision to set up at home so saving the extensive overheads and rates of a premises.  Buying to order enables me to stay competitive on pricing whilst minimising wastage and ensuring my flowers are as fresh as possible for my customers.  From my research I developed a clear Brand Positioning to differentiate my business offering and this has formed the basis of all my brand identity (the “Look” of the business) from logo development to production of promotional materials to the promotion itself.  I have a very clearly defined  target market too so am able to ensure my “very meagre” marketing budget is well targeted and effective when it is used.

Sara Prebble: What has been your most popular kitchen table arrangement?

Tania McLaren: I think people generally love to see arrangements that make them smile and that they feel they could replicate themselves with ease.  Children are always drawn to the snowmen and I have been busy running snowmen making parties this December, whilst adults love the simplicity of the pumpkin display – I have even had people sending me photos of their adaptations of the idea which I love receiving.

Sara Prebble: What is your favourite flower?

Tania McLaren: Now you’re asking.  I would say that my favourite flower changes about once a day!  I am notoriously fickle on this point.  My current favourites for flower arranging are hydrangeas which are so beautiful and so adaptable.  They come in a huge range of colours and can be used equally successfully as a whole in a hand tied bouquet or as florets in a table arrangement.  I have used some fabulous red and green ones this Christmas as the basis for many of my door wreaths, mantelpiece arrangments and Christmas displays.  They are not cheap but are large, have a long season and last beautifully.
Flower Snowman - Childrens Workshops

To find out more about The Kitchen Table Florist and to read her blog visit her website

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