Wednesday, 25 July 2012

We did it

Our window display to celebrate the big athletic event that is taking place in the next few weeks; yes, we sadly do need to be that cryptic due to all this rubbish about sponsors suing people, fining them and also having them sent to jail for using certain words, logos and symbols. While we think having the event happening here is good for raising the countries profile (let's face it, it's not good for the road networks, local people or the economy) we do think that selling out big time to sponsors is not really what the event was intended for in the first place. But then that's life and sport in general these days; it's not about the competing any more; it's all about how much money can be made. 

Still we've managed to dedicate our window to it without impeaching any rules, and we've managed to update our FB and Twitter accounts without using words we could get fined for so we're feeling pretty pleased with ourselves; regardless of what we think about the politics of the whole event, we are behind our countries sports men and women 100% and hope to see them standing atop many a podium in the next few weeks. 

As usual the window has had to be photographed from behind the window (even more so with the sun beating on it all day at the moment) but we think it does what we need it to do. The photo on the left came about as we wanted to have a play with some kind of head piece; hence we ended up with our very own swimming champ :) 

Along with the window we've also had a busy few days in general with the every day running of the shop, but we were afforded the opportunity of making a Superman logo yesterday, which we think turned out quite well in the end. We'll admit it got changed a couple of times, as the template we draw the shape out from had a lot more black lines on it than the logo itself; drawn on the design sheet it was fine, but once flowered the S (which let's face it is the most important bit) was lost, so we had to take it apart, go back to the drawing board and start over. Thankfully it turned out ok in the end which is the most important part; it also goes to show that we don't always get it right first time, but we make sure we keep trying until we do.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Full of hot air?

no; that would be helium :) And plenty of it as this morning we (that means Sarah) had to blow up 200 balloons by 8am (202 were blown up in the end due to one popping - not the nicest thing at 6am - and the other had a minute hole in it and was hovering rather than floating).  Due to the latex being breathable there is no way the balloons can be blown up the night before, so that meant an early morning start (something Sarah is really not good at - she's a definite night owl).   Still as you can see they were all done in time, and made the shops workroom ceiling look a riot of colour.

Balloons everywhere
Add to these balloons, the 3 weddings (yes that's 3 on a Friday - most unusual) along with 175 individually wrapped gerbera for a local school; plus all the normal every day orders and you could say it's been a slightly busy day. Just how we love it.

The first wedding to go out today was an artifical one (our second in recent months) although this was actually for a renewal of vows, rather than a full on wedding. The couple are celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary, but the bride is wearing purple, so we chose to mix the 2 colours (reds and purples) and we think you'll agree they actually go really well together.

As you can see we made the bride a bouquet and the groom a buttonhole to match.

Our 2nd wedding today was for an equally lovely couple who were getting wed for the first time.  For this one we used fresh flowers.  Vendela roses, with yellow and lilac freesia, with some different foliages to tone and bring it all together.  Have to admit after using the vendela with those beautiful amnesia the other week, and not being sure they would go together, we had doubts about then using them with lilac and yellow, but yet again they have proved us wrong; there seems to be no colour they don't work with.

Tied bouquet of Vendela Roses with Lilac and Yellow Freesia
Our final wedding for today was something a little different to the norm as it consisted of Purple and Ivory calla lilies. We often use callas for a wedding but it's unusual for a bride to want to mix 2 different colours together. They either choose callas with roses or gerbera, in the same tones, or just a single colour.  The bridesmaid material was a shade of purple; not a cadbury purple though; it had an almost plum tone to it as well. The original plan was to use a black calla as these are one of the best to use when blendig with purple; then a trip to the wholesalers the other week produced a purple calla that the growers are now working and hoping to mass produce (grow but you know what we mean). At one time if we asked for purple they would have laughed at us (maybe there is hope yet for the brides that want lilac ones).  The colour isn't quite perfected as some were more purple than others, but they toned beautifully with the material swatch we had to match, and worked well with the Ivory ones too (even though being different sizes caused the air to turn blue a few times where they wanted to go in totally different directions to where Sarah wanted them to go). Thankfully they looked lovely in the end, and luckily for us the whole day has gone off without a hitch.  Let's hope our brides days have too.

Brides bouquet

Registrars/Top Table Arrangemnt

Monday, 16 July 2012

Credit Card Safety

I got asked a really good question this morning about credit card payments, and how we go about keeping someones card details safe. This is something there has been a big problem with in the floristry world up north in recent months; non-honest people up in Leeds have been breaking into florists, looking through order pads for customer details (including card details). As it is illegal for us to keep your security numbers on file, these people have then phoned the customer to say there is a problem with their card and they need to re-check on the security number; once they have this they are free to shop wherever they fancy before getting caught. Having been caught ourselves in the past with Credit Card fraud, we have always taken keeping your details safe a high priority. How we do this is actually very simple. 

When we take your order over the telephone, your credit card number is not written next to your order (or below it). It is in fact written on a previous page (wherever a space may be) so that if someone did even manage to come across any numbers, they wouldn't be able to tie it up with the ordering customer. 

The minute we hang up the phone, your card details are processed via the pdq machine ( we would do this at the time we have you on the phone, but the pdq shares the phone line with the telephone so we have to wait until we have ended the call). As soon as the slip of paper pops out of the pdq we scrub out any numbers (except the amount spent)  that are visible on it; we then pop our own code on the bottom along with the date of delivery so that is there a point of reference if our customer has an issue. This way if someone was to break in (they'd have to get through 2 alarms and countless locked doors first) then even if they found an order and could tie the credit card slip to that order, they wouldn't find a single number on there that would be of any use to them.
This is how they look once we've got our hands on them

Each days slips are kept together in the safe for 6 weeks; by that time if someone had an issue it would have shown up on their statement and we would have dealt with it for them.  At the end of the 6 weeks the slips are destroyed.  Now; rather than spend forever shredding tiny bits of paper (let's face it that would be an all day job), so instead we tear them into shreds ourselves, where they are then popped into a pot of water and left to soak for several days. 

Beginning to soak up the water

Once fully soaked they pretty much resemble a pot of sludge. We then tip the water out of the pot by passing it through a sieve. The remaining sludge then goes to one our houses, where it is placed into our compost bins in much the same way normal shredded paper is. 

As this is how paper is recycled we are currently looking in to ways of turning this mulch, back in to handmade paper, but the process is not as easy as it sounds. Maybe one of you out there might want to start up your own paper business? That way we could supply you with our mulch, and you could turn it into recycled hand made paper. Now there's an idea. 
Turning in to sludge
Until someone local comes up with their own paper making business then we will continue to pop it in to our compost bins, where it will help our gorgeous roses (and other flowers) to continue with their phenomenal growth.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Imitation and copyright

Wow; who would have thought the BT directory being delivered over the weekend could have got us so many calls and emails? We don't even advertise in the thing (and never will). What was the cause of all this contact? Well it transpires that another florist (who only deals with weddings) in a nearby town has a logo so very similar to ours, a lot of you thought she had pinched our one. We've actually come across her before and a quick check let us know that Yes it is almost identical, she has in fact used a different variety of gerbera to us. The one we used has a black centre and I myself took the photograph to turn into the logo; her one has a yellow centre (I've no idea if she took the photo herself or downloaded it) but it's not our one. I'm sure dotted about the country (world) there are other shops with similar if not the same logo. It's bound to happen. We did research before we designed ours to make sure we couldn't find anyone with the same (purely from the point of view that we didn't want to get mistaken for someone else ~ they may not have been such good florists as us) but also because we wanted to have our own identity. Not everyone thinks that way so it is bound to happen somewhere along the line. At the end of the day they do say that *imitation is the highest form of flattery*. 

Aside from all the calls from our concerned customers, we have also had a lot of calls to order flowers today. Sadly a couple of calls we had to let the people down. They wanted us to personally deliver to Mid Wales, Surrey, Suffolk and Derbyshire. As lovely as it would be to be able to say yes, we just can't afford to run the risk of trusting a courier with our flowers, so we had to say no to the orders. We hate to say no to anyone but do any of you know of any couriers/postal services that can be trusted 100%? We don't and the quality we send out for all occasions is of paramount importance to us. 

One call we did have was from one of our regular customers whose exact words were "There's £70; do me one of those water bunches. Use whatever you want". Now to some florists this would the opportunity for them to go out and buy really exotic flowers that cost a fortune. Beautiful as they are when a customer spends that amount of money with us we really want them to have something that looks like they've spent well on it. If they asked for the exotics that wouldn't be a problem, but 99% of our customers would be devastated if we sent out 3 strelitzias, a stem of orchid and maybe a couple of roses (one big company ~ no names mentioned ~ are charging £150 for an arrangement that is just 1 stem of orchid, 1 heliconia, 4 gerbera, 2 hydrangea, 3 mini pineapple and a couple of leaves ~ for £150?? no wonder florists get such a bad rep). Don't get me wrong; the bouquet we made included roses, lisianthus, lilies and anthuriums, which as not your cheap run of the mill flowers, but we think we still made it look worth the money spent on it. 

Sadly the photo (as always) doesn't do it justice on the size, but I can tell you it was almost 3ft wide and the same in height. The colours also haven't come out as well as I would have hoped, but it was all varying shades of pink, pink, creams and reds. Not colours we would have chosen to put together as a rule, but a trip to the wholesalers found us a wrap of mixed avalanche roses, that we beautiful; purchasing these for this order the dictated the rest of the colours needed to be used. 
As you can see from the photo above the pink rose was quite a bright shade, whereas the anthuriums were a great mix of pinky green. The other rose in the picture was a white avalanche rose. The red you can see behind the pink rose is a stem of astilbe. 
Above is the pink lisianthus used along with the cream avalanche rose. The green on the back of the anthuriums can also be seen in this photo. 

Such beautiful spring, delicate and pastel shades that worked beautifully together. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

It's prom time

Since we have now adopted the American idea of Prom, we've noticed more and more Girls and Boys are buying corsages (for wrists mainly) and buttonholes for their dates. I believe this is also an American idea that we have taken on (back in my school days we had a teacher with a record player in the sports hall). In fact ours were just called Leavers Do's and we pretty much did exactly that. Arrived, saw Mr ?? doing his best at playing songs we all enjoyed, and left again to head off to the local pub (that was when you could get away with being served under age).

Every year we are presented with the challenge of sourcing flowers that will match the outfit of the corsage recipient, and I will admit, every year it gets a lot harder. There are so many different options of material these days, in all manner of colours it can get a bit tricky at times. Just today we've had 2 girls with 2 tone material. If you tilt it one way you can get a colour to match; tilt it the other way and the colour you've chosen doesn't match at all.  Thankfully we've managed to find something that will complement regardless of which way you tilt.
The corsage above is a prime example of colours not matching both tones.  The pieces of material among the flowers are pieces left over from the dress (the lady wanted to pick up the colours in the corsage). As you can see looking at it there's a distinct purple tint to it. What you can't see if that if you tilt it the other way there is a really bright turquoise blue. Thankfully; oddly enough, the lilac roses worked well with both; hence why it has been made.

As most of the corsages are presented to whoever will be wearing them, we make a point of ensuring every single one that leaves the shop is in a presentation box. These are only a clear plastic, that we pop a few strands of ribbon but it seems to go down really well with everyone when we do, so we will continue to always send them out in this way. The reaction we get when the person that ordered the corsage comes in to collect is great. It's like we've really put ourselves out for them and it's nice that they appreciate the little touches. That's what this job is all about. The little touches and the personal service.

There are times though, I will admit, when I question the sanity of boxing them all (or maybe it's the fact we don't charge £20 each for them), as today I have wired, taped, put together and boxed up 49 (yes that's 49) of the things, in various flowers, colours, shapes and sizes. I know some shops buy the specific corsage bracelets (these are actually all attached to pearly corsage bracelets) and then proceed to just glue every flower on. How they can do this beyond me. A) I would NEVER trust the glue enough for the flowers not to fall off, and B) surely the glue burns the flowers? I've used it before to maybe stick a leaf down, and the leaf has then proceeded to turn brown. Not for us. It may be fiddly; it may take longer, but every single flower head and leaf in one of our corsages has been wired, and taped by hand.

The great thing is? We get to do it all again on Monday as the other school local to us has their prom Monday evening. We don't have 49 for that one though (which my fingers are very grateful for).

A small selection still waiting for collection

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The websites

online ordering is thankfully up and running again. Many thanks to all those of you that didn't give up and order elsewhere but who instead picked up the telephone and placed your order directly; besides it's much nicer for us to get to chat with you all. We will be having a change round with the website again soon, as we have some nice bits and pieces to pop on there. This is where yet again your feedback is great (whether personally or from the info we recieve via the site itself). We can see which items are your most popular and which aren't. The result of this means we will be posting more items that seem to fit what you all want, more than just ones we think should be on there.

I expect the sympathy tribute we made this morning, may well find itself on the new and improved site as well, under our miscellaneous items (or should it come under the hobbies/interests?) Judge for yourselves.

Miscellaneous or Hobbies/Interests? :)
After making this we got into a bit of discussion about our own experiences with Pernod. It would appear that not one person we know of (including ourselves) had any good experiences to report. Maybe some of you could share with us (that doesn't mean you all go rushing out to buy a bottle).


Monday, 2 July 2012

HMS Warrior

Before I tell you about our little outing to HMS Warrior on Saturday I would like to apologise to the Troll that has found it funny to click Boring on every single post we've written and who has left some pretty foul comments (shame nobody got to see them; you and your friends are the reason we vet all comments in the first place) for removing the reactions box and getting your ip blocked. Such a shame. 

So Saturday. We were honoured to go down to HMS Warrior and decorate the Half Deck for one of our brides. We've been there many times, but have never before remembered to take a camera with us. This time we did (well Sarah took her phone so the photos aren't perfect, but they're good enough). Actually the decoration - flower wise - was exceptionally simple, but worked so beautifully in such wonderful surroundings. If you have never visited the Warrior I would advise that you try to ( HMS Victory and The Mary Rose too of course as they are all in the same vicinity). 
Capstan on the Half Deck.
Basically all we had to do was wrap some ivy around the table ends; we popped 3 germini into mini phials (it was a hot day and they definitely needed water) and tied those around the tops - see photo below - as well as draping some over the top of the capstan - see above photo - this also had empty vases placed, ready for the bride and bridesmaids to pop their bouquets in to when they arrived.  As I say very simple, but perfect for such a magnificent ship. 
Table ends
I will admit I was very skeptical about using the red germini on the deck, as it can be very dark down there, but it seems the small amount of light that made it through actually ended up almost illuminating the brightness of the red, creating a perfect atmosphere. I am sure they looked equally as beautiful against the backdrop of the brides dress. As you can see from the photograph below they were a stunning colour. Her only stipulation when it came to the germini was that they were to be red (like the red on the union flag) and have black centres. I think we managed that just about right. 
Brides Bouquet
For the bridesmaids we used white germini (again with a black centre). I imagine the bridesmaids were in a red dress (we sadly never got to see them) but if they were then the white germini would most definitely have stood out against the material and they contrasted perfectly with the bridal bouquet. 
Bridesmaids bouquet
We did find ourselves with quite a bit of ivy left over, so took it upon ourselves to decorate some of the pillars on the deck too so that it didn't go to waste. I am sure our bride wouldn't have minded as we felt the area we decorated really did warrant us doing it; sometimes what they call an "executive decision" has to be made, so that's what we did. 

Sadly we didn't get to see the top table decorated as it hadn't been set up when we were there. Because the ship was still open to the public at that point, they couldn't pop a table going across the length of the deck. A shame we didn't see it finished as the bride had provided some lovely little jam jars with gingham ribbon tied round; into these we popped 3 germini, but we've been doing the job long enough now that we know how lovely they would have looked. 

All in all although we were working, we had a lovely day, and it was wonderful to spend those 2 hours below decks on such a majestic ship. Up on deck wasn't too bad either as we got to watch HMS Illustrious come back in to port.