The flower industry has revolutionised over the past 25 years and working in the wonderful world of flowers has never been more appealing. McQueens was at the forefront of the revolution that helped to reshape an industry that was saddled with a fuddy-duddy reputation and mired in antiquated rules and notions of how flowers should be arranged and displayed. Many of those rules do hold true today but some were steeped in a bygone Victorian age. The formulaic ‘one size fits all’ method of flower arranging was banished along with the cheap and chintzy use of polypropylene ribbon, gratuitous amounts of cellophane, and Little Bo Peep baskets. A new era ushered in, and things were never quite the same again. Flowers were aligned with art, design and fashion and being a florist was considered cool and not the sole domain of maiden aunts. The template of the florist business has also changed beyond recognition. The traditional business model of setting up a flower shop, flinging open the doors and waiting for customers to come and buy big bunches and beautiful bouquets now seems a little quaint. Sure, there’s still room for a traditional florist shop that can rely on the whims of passing trade but nowadays, most florists need to diversify into corporate, wedding or event work. The industry now is extremely broad particularly in a city like London where florists have much more freedom to focus on particular areas of interest within the fantastic world of flowers. Florists now have the choice of working for an established brand, working freelance or focusing on specific areas of design. At McQueens Flower School we offer comprehensive training in all areas of contemporary flower design that majors on gifts, corporate, event, wedding and large-scale installations.
We spoke to our school team to find our differences between each week on the course, and what students might expect.
‘The first week of the course is an introduction to flower design and we cover all the basics. We attract a mixed group of students and many will have little or no experience. We start from the basic aspects of design from care, conditioning, buying and how to get the most out of your flowers. The practical projects start with how to create a hand-tied bouquet and from there we progress to designs that are suitable for entertaining at home or small scale events. We take things slowly and impress on the students the importance of attention to detail. We hope to give the students a really good grounding.’
‘The second week we scale the designs up and work on party flowers for larger events. We work on opulent table designs and large focal displays, and talk about the practicalities of this type of work along with workroom management and how to organise for projects. Our aim is to see an improvement in confidence and to look at practical ways to optimise time management. The week is very hands-on and there’s plenty of time and opportunity to take photographs to chart your progress. The course offers a great opportunity to build a great portfolio of images.’ Diana Martinez
Practical hands-on experience at McQueens Flower School’The third week poses a different set of challenges; this week is dedicated to wedding work – bridal and bridesmaid bouquets –and includes instruction and practical projects for wired work such as buttonholes and corsages. Wedding work has its own set of considerations; wedding designs need to be meticulously created and we impress on our students the importance of skill and workmanship. We look at trends and costing, and give lots of advice about consultations quotes and proposals.’
‘The fourth week is a very popular week as we focus on large-scale installation designs and a group project. We try and give a true to life experience of working on an event and the students need to work together as a team. The school is transformed with designs such as archways, flower walls and hanging installations. It’s a great way to finish the course and it’s exciting to see the end result. Many of our students opt to stay and do work experience after the course has finished. Our work experience programme gives students the opportunity to build upon their experience and get a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a busy and successful flower business, with insights into the shop, events and contract work.’ Giuseppe Puddori