Jess started her brand, Fluoresse just over a year ago and has since gathered a list of impressive clients including New Balance, Rixo and END Clothing as well as many more. Jess’ style of floristry is bright and bold with modern flair – she’s not shy about clashing colours or adding sprayed metallic foliage to create something unique. Her modern style runs not only through her floristry, but also through her new shop in Clerkenwell where she sells flowers, plants, cards and gifts as well as the occasional workshop.
We visited Jess on a cold November’s morning to talk about her new venture of owning a shop, her Christmas tips and what is next on the agenda for Fluoresse.
What lead you to leave your career in fashion to pursue floristry?
I’d wanted to leave the industry for some, but the idea was daunting and I had no idea what I wanted to do. Just as I was about to make the leap I was diagnosed with cancer, stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’d burnt myself out and this was like hitting the reset button on my life. Chemotherapy was gruelling, but the time I spent away from work was spent with family and friends, and the daily anxieties began to dissolve. Eight months later I couldn’t wait to go back to work, but after a few months I felt that something wasn’t right. I realised that life doesn’t throw you a second chance in order for you to go back to doing everything the same as it was before. Cancer taught me life is short, so make the most of it.
How did you start your own business?
It was by total accident. I never wanted my own business and had planned to work as a trainee or junior florist. Not long after my floristry training, Breaks Agency approached me to make 600 bouquets for New Balance as part of their launch at END Clothing. I was terrified, but it was an incredible opportunity. Suddenly I found myself having to make up a company, open a business account, get public liability insurance, find a studio and hire freelancers – many of which were my friends. The best things in life are the things that scare you, and it was the beginning of something I couldn’t have imagined.
Do you have any favourite florals for the festive season?
It’s the one time of the year that all the foliage in the flower market has been sprayed in metallic colours and you can’t leave without getting covered in glitter. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it! It reminds me of the first time I ever visited New Covent Garden Flower Market when I started out making Christmas wreaths. Asparagus fern is something I’ve seen sprayed every colour under the sun, but it still manages to look just as beautiful and delicate as it does when it’s naturally green.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently re-reading ‘Buying and Running a Florist Shop‘ by Alan Peck. A dear friend lent me their copy months ago which I read, skipping the bits about running a shop and cherry picking the floristry tips and tricks. Months later I’m now re-reading the book cover-to-cover to catch up on what I missed. The author Alan ran a flower shop with his late wife, Liz, until she passed away from cancer. He took care of the business side while his wife was the creative. After her death he wrote about their experience running a successful floristry business together. As well as sound honest business advice, it’s also a really lovely book.
Do you practice any sustainability values at work?
I try to avoid single use plastic as much as possible and don’t use any floral foam as it’s a carcinogenic single use plastic and also a micro plastic. I also try to re-purpose and recycle flowers where I can. There is a fantastic charity called Floral Angels based in Covent Garden Flower Market where you can drop off flowers 24 hours a day. Their volunteers make them into bouquets which are distributed to hospices and care homes. I’ve donated foliage to Hackney Quest before too – a non-profit organisation which provides activities for young people in Hackney. It sounds like a cliché, but finding myself in a position where I can give back a little is the most rewarding part of what I do.
What’s next for Fluoresse?
We’ve just opened a shop in Clerkenwell – I was originally hunting for a larger studio, when my boyfriend found an advert for a tiny shop in Clerkenwell which came with a large basement. Within the space of a week we’d picked up the keys and started work. I had no plans to open a shop and no nest egg to sink into this, so we’re doing everything ourselves. At the same time, it’s incredibly exciting! Aside from the shop, I want to keep growing our client projects, events and commissions. I love a challenge and often you’re asked to design, build and deliver something in a very short space of time. Coming from a fashion background means I thrive on deadlines, coffee and little sleep!
What’s your favourite Evermore scent?
I love North! It’s perfect for this time of year, but I can imagine myself burning it all year round. It’s very comforting and complex, yet not overpowering which I like.
Visit the Fluoresse shop: