McQueens Flower School measure its success by the results of the students that attend the school. Apart from delighting in the adventures of countless ex-pupils around the world on Instagram, our tutors also report that having graduated from the McQueens Flower School has other advantages – you can usually find a bed for the night and a heap of hospitality from our MFS friends dotted about all over the globe! Our social media manager Duncan McCabe is a former teacher and is hell bent on testing this theory (should the company ever decide to sponsor him to undertake such a selfless task). Anyways until such a date, we delight in sharing stories of our students and their journey with flowers. Today we focus on former McQueens School student Kate Norris, who is about to open her own flower business in Los Angeles.
Kate, where did your interest in flowers come from?
Whilst I’ve always loved flowers, I’ve spent rather too many years working as a banking lawyer in London. But, after a spell in LA, I decided to take a chance and pursue my passion for flowers. After spending a couple of years combining both law and floristry, I was ready to take the leap into floristry full time and this, in conjunction with my love of LA, was the beginning of Foxgloves & Folly, the business that I have been developing and plan to start next month.
When did you decide you wanted to work with flowers?
I’ve always loved flowers but I contented myself with just having flowers at home and messing around with them occasionally! I’d always been pretty academic so I went down that route and became a lawyer. Whilst this was a great job, I really had a yearning to be doing something more creative and that, for me, would be more fulfilling. I took some time out when my partner had the chance to work in LA and I had the time to think more clearly and I kept asking myself what I really wanted to be doing. I just kept coming back to flowers, but questioned if I could actually make this my job! I did a course with McQueens on my return to London and there was really no looking back after that.
Why did you choose McQueens?
I had known about McQueens before I went to LA and followed them online. I loved their approach to flowers and the floristry courses had a great reputation. By chance, I found out that a friend of mine was also going to do a course with them at the same as me, so that proved to be a bonus!
How was your experience?
It was brilliant. The tutors (Duncan and Francis at the time I did the course) were amazing – knowledgeable, approachable and really entertaining! The course was well structured but felt very natural and you never felt rushed or like ‘just a number’. I did a week’s course (I’d have loved to do the 4-week course but I was starting a new job the week after) but I learnt so much in that short time and, whilst obviously very much a novice still, felt like I had a real grounding to build on. McQueens were also brilliant in offering work experience which was something I really wanted.
What has the work experience been like?
I’ve been doing work experience on Saturdays for pretty much two years, working within the contracts team. I have had the best time and have learnt so much. Theo, who heads this team, has been so supportive and has become a great friend. I’ll really miss him! I’ve learnt so much from him and the other florists that I’ve had the chance to work with. Just being there also gave me the opportunity to see how a floristry business operates. McQueens have such a diverse bunch of people working there and you can see how they learn from, and feed off, each other. You can’t help but be inspired by them. It was such a different environment to the corporate environment that I was more used to and I just loved it.
What are your plans for the future?
My immediate plan is to have Foxgloves & Folly fully operational as soon as possible. It has taken a little while to sort out all the paperwork and visa stuff but we’ll be fully up come August. Working with flowers every day is my dream so I just can’t wait to get started and see where it all takes me!
What are your favourite flowers?
I find it hard to pinpoint my favourites as it changes pretty much from day to day! But my top ones will most definitely include peonies, hellebores, foxgloves, tuberoses and ranunculus. I also adore blossom in the spring and a wildflower meadow in the summer!
How do you describe your style?
Very natural, loose, free-flowing and unstructured with lots of greenery and texture. I love lush, abundant arrangements that look almost effortless in terms of how they’ve been put together.
Where will we find Foxgloves & Folly?
Our work studio is located at 5176 Santa Monica Boulevard, Unit 104, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (in Hollywood). We’ll be up and running from August (our website, foxglovesandfolly.com, will be up then too and we’re also on Instagram @foxglovesandfolly. We’ll have an on-line shop selling a selection of bouquets (hand-tied or in glass jars) and other plant, herb and succulent products, terrariums and orchids and a quirky collection of other gifts that will vary from time to time. We’ll offer both corporate and home accounts and would love to work on all types of events (from small intimate parties to weddings to corporate launches). We’ll also offer both scheduled and bespoke workshops. Whilst we’re not a traditional retail shop, customers are more than welcome to drop into the studio for a chat!