When I first set eyes on Lauren’s beautiful bouquet [below] at her wedding back in September, I knew it was created by someone special…
And when Lauren told me about ‘Mrs Umbels’ and her shed I knew I had to meet this lady and see this shed. Having set up my own business from scratch, I always admire people who have done the same and find it really interesting to hear how they started their business. I decided a few months ago that I wanted to do some mini projects where I photograph suppliers at work, and find out a bit about their business. This would be both a fun and interesting project for me and also an informative resource for couples organising their wedding. So a couple of weeks ago, I drove to Newark to visit Mrs Umbels. I was very interested in seeing her shed, which was built for her by her husband as a little lean-to on the side of his tree nursery. And of course meeting the owner of the shed, the beautiful Sarah, also known as Mrs Umbels. We spent a lovely morning having a natter and taking pictures, and it was lots of fun. Take a look at some of my pictures from the day below, followed by some information about Mrs Umbels in her own words.
Why ‘Mrs Umbels’?
chose this name or rather hubster did because we had just got married (and so I wanted to be a Mrs) and also because an Umbel is a flower shape, think Cow Parsley or Ammi, both of which I love (Chris had Ammi as his buttonhole and it featured rather heavily at our wedding!), it is also the most interesting name of the flower shapes, others are a little more boring, daisy, ball, single, panicle, compound…all a bit dull!! We use Ammi as part of our logo so it all worked out rather well.
What do you think it is that defines your style and sets you apart?
we can pretty much turn our hand to anything but I suppose the style we love the most and the one we try to bring into most weddings is the more natural, handpicked look. We can do a domed bouquet as well as the next woman but we both really love the textured, wilder look. What sets us apart…we really care and for us the flowers are the most important part of any wedding day, so I do try to make them a very important part of the Bride’s day. We like to try to push our boundaries and so new challenges are always a bit of a favourite, it would be very dull if everyone always had the same thing. Seasonality is key to what we do, and because we grow a few of our own flowers we like to be able to reflect the seasons in our work.
How did you get into the floristry business?
quite a long boring story but in brief. I retrained as a gardener 10 years ago and was lucky enough to work at a wonderful country house garden. I grew a lot of flowers for use in the house, and one day they asked me to do the flowers for the house, I loved picking what I had grown and then making it look beautiful so I qualified as a florist and then got a job in our local flower shop in the Cotswolds. After meeting hubby I moved up to Nottinghamshire met Lucy and we decided that we would give it a go by ourselves, my wedding was our first booking (absolutely no pressure there!) and it started to take off. We built the shed through the summer last year and now we are almost self sufficient with a bit of help from a large catering fridge in the hotel!
What are your favourite flowers?
it changes every week or even day! Absolutely love Ammi majus of course, Ranunculus are a pretty wonderful flower (not had much success in growing that one though) and actually I really love the big headed Chrysanthemums and Dahlias, quite retro but they are such a statement flower and coming back into fashion with a vengeance. You can use your Groupon vouchers to shop through a wide range of women’s dresses at a huge discount.
Do you give brides much guidance on their choice of flowers and style?
absolutely! Alot of brides know what style they like and the colours they want and we pretty much take it from there and show them the options available in their season. Advice on what will last as a buttonhole or a hair flower is key, some flowers absolutely hate being next to body heat and go over almost as soon as you put them on! I always do a Pin board of flowers for each bride and then they pick out their favourites. Sometimes we get Carte Blanche…that’s the most fun, a few parameters on the colour and style and then they leave it to us, picking out the best of what’s available is always a creative challenge.
I loved Lauren’s autumnal bouquet. Do you have a favourite season?
love them all in their own way, but I think Autumn is probably my absolute favourite. The low light levels, the rich colours everywhere you look, divine. Flowerwise it means more textures and shapes, berries, different foliages, it becomes less about the flowers used and more about what they are paired with.
Tell me more about your shed?
built by the rather wonderful husband of mine. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, bruises and a day where we looked like Ninjas in our protective suits putting the insulation in the roof and walls!! I love it. Alot of the materials were begged and borrowed, we were given the large window which we then glazed ourselves (or rather Chris did!), the door was a family members old farmhouse front door which we stripped and repainted and all the shelves and workbenches are recycled scaffold planks. The day the water went in was rather amusing, Chris You Tubed how to do it and put all the piping in. When he switched the water on we had a massive flood with water spurting out of every single join, he hadn’t known to put the plastic washer material in. Oops! All good now though 🙂 It’s still a work in progress, the next mission is to get some under bench shelving and some cupboard boards, that’s on the list for this winter! What’s rather lovely is it also works as a potting shed when I’m sowing seeds for the cutting patch, so it’s a bit of a two for one.
What do you predict for 2015 trends?
a bit of a tricky one. I think there will be a bit of a movement away from the shabby chic we have seen in recent years. The flower style will get wilder, looser and more assymetric, but the containers and overall feel of the flowers will be a little more glam. Think country house flowers rather than village hall flowers, same flowers, different arrangement. It always takes a while for the latest flower fashions to filter into the wedding market.
What are your favourite kind of arrangements?
anything that is wild and loose with masses of texture and shape. The best arrangements look just as interesting in black and white as they do in colour, it’s the same principle as when you plan a herbaceous border, it should be interesting without the colour. We did some pretty epic ones at the beginning of September which were deep, autumnal colours with masses of movement and of course textures!!
What are your ambitions for the future of your business?
To extend the cutting patch, grow way more flowers and foliages for ourselves, to be able to do an entire wedding from what we have grown, that would be amazing, it will happen…maybe next year 🙂
How might couples get in touch with you?
Telephone: 07789 986 558