Traditional with a twist
From red hot bouquets to rockstar ducks, Laura Cartledge meets a Polegate florist who has perfected the personal touch.
The bouquet is the last thing the bride is given when she walks out the door.
It’s in all of the photos on the big day and according to tradition, if caught, it will show who is next in line to be married.
For all these reasons, and many more, Polegate’s Mandy Lower is keen to make it as special as possible.
“For me it’s very much about the personal touch,” she explains, “especially when it comes to weddings. You have the initial one-to-one then you start to build up a vision from there.
“It’s so satisfying to know that together you can create something that is individual to them.”
Since launching her own business, Scent-a-Posy, Mandy has specialised in just that.
“It is a point of difference that I hope is part of the good service; I think it is the little things that make a big difference,” she enthuses.
“I can make brides’ paper bouquets from the wedding stationery they have used on the day, it’s a bit of a keepsake.”
Another venture that combines Mandy’s love of craft are her ‘Luvva Ducks’.
“What I can do, and what I can offer, are bride and groom ducks. I’ve also done a civil partnership and the Mr and Mr Ducks were sitting on the top table, which looked fantastic,” she reveals.
“People can order them as gifts and if that is the case we can tailor make them, so if the bride has a pink bouquet I can make the bride duck one and the groom duck can have a matching keyhole.
“It is a bit of fun,” smiles Mandy. “I’ve made a Slash duck from Guns and Roses and a little lady duck who likes her knitting.
“My mum makes them with me, she is so clever she has even knitted half a miniature scarf on cocktail sticks.”
No stranger to a challenge, Mandy loves the variety her work brings.
“A lot of brides do have clear ideas in their mind, but then there are some that come in and say ‘help’ or ‘I like this colour’,” she reveals.
“What is so lovely about doing wedding flowers is you have to find out about every single aspect – where they are getting married, their transport, the style of dress, what the groom will be wearing – because you want everything to be coordinated.
“I am very much a traditional florist in terms of my approach, but I have a very creative mind so I am very open to doing something new,” Mandy adds.
“I do think I have a distinctive style and I think every florist would say that, but I like to give my all to make the vision of the customer come to life.”
One such vision was a couple’s request for red chillies to be used in the arrangements.
“That project for me was probably one of the most unusual and exciting,” she admits.
“The bride was really into vibrant colours and the whole day was bright, the bridemaid wore a vivid red dress.
“It was just different; it was a first for me, which was fantastic. I had some practise here with the wiring to make sure they stayed in place and fresh,” explains Mandy.
“The chillies are quite heavy so you have to make sure they are secure.”
Scent-a-Posy is now entering its second year and Mandy has been on quite a journey to get to where she is.
Having trained to be a florist after leaving school, her career would see her work both in Sussex and abroad.
“I had the opportunity to go and work in the orchid farms in Holland,” she recalls.
“It was fantastic at the time. After a couple of years I came back and was the florist at The Grand in Eastbourne.”
This position saw Mandy make beautiful arrangements for all of their events before leaving to go into retail, where she worked for the likes of Lakeland and the Early Learning Centre, a role that meant a lot of travel.
“Then, a couple of years ago due to family illness, I needed to be back at home so I decided then to make a change of lifestyle,” says Mandy.
“I had kept up with my floristry. Whenever there was a wedding or funeral, birthday or occasion within my circle of family, or friends, or friends of friends. I’ve never been away from it.”
What’s more, the plans for Mandy’s own business were far from new.
“In my early 20s, when I came back from Holland, I didn’t really know what to do,” she admits.
“My father and I were talking about opening a shop then but I don’t regret any of the retail work I have done.
“Purely having a business head, things like knowing how to talk to customers, has helped me now,” she adds.
“Floristry is a very competitive market. There are a lot of businesses out there.”
But thanks to utilising social media and word of mouth Scent-a-Posy has gone from ‘strength to strength’.
“I launched the website in May this year, but it was probably up there for a good month before I told anyone,” she whispers.
“I had shown it to my mum and dad and my husband and then I just woke up one morning and thought ‘I need to tell people about this’.”
So has it lived up to Mandy’s dreams?
“It is what I love, it is where my heart is,” she replies. “The look on the bride’s face is my favourite part, every time it never fails to lift me up and I always drive home grinning from ear to ear.”
To find out more about Scent-a-Posy, visit www.scentaposy.co.uk or call 07787 421532
Chilli wedding pictures by www.dcoolimages.com
September 26, 2014 Business and Investments