Monday, 13 July 2015

My Mulberry Interview

Willow Crossley is a British designer, writer and floral artist whose meadow-relaxed flower arrangements have decorated our showroom for summer events.  She invited us to her house in Oxfordshire to see her work and hear about her new book Inspire.

How did you get into floristry and was it something you always intended to do?
I’ve always adored flowers for as long as I can remember; I grew up in Wales where my mother, Kate, was a serious gardener and the house was always full of flowers. I had a eureka moment though writing my second book, Inspire, a couple of years ago. Career wise, I was spreading myself very thinly doing a bit of everything- styling, fashion, personal shopping, writing etc and it was all a bit, bitty. I then starting working on the ‘Flora’ chapter and something just clicked. It made me so happy. So calm and just like it was meant to be. So I stopped everything else and focused on the flowers. And I haven’t looked back since really.
What did you do before flowers?
Mostly fashion. I went to the London School of Fashion and did a degree in Fashion Promotion – basically styling and journalism. I then worked on a few magazines in the fashion and beauty departments but never really got very far. And then I followed my boyfriend Charlie, now husband, to a vineyard in the South of France. I set up my blog, Willow Rose Boutique there and my first book, The Art of Handmade Living sprung from that.
You’ve written two books, one on handmade living and one on nature. How can we, as a commercial, excess-loving society, do more to embrace the handmade and the natural?
Put down the technology. I think the more time you spend outside surrounded by nature, the more you learn how good it can make you feel. We’re all so used to being glued to our phones and laptops every waking second that we need to almost schedule in time to shut it all down and get outside. Or even if it’s not going outside, take time to do something creative – be it sewing or knitting, writing, making jewellery, anything – it’s extraordinary how calming and stress relieving it can be.

How do you live with nature? 
Every surface of our home is covered with some sort of natural creation. Be it flowers, plants, shells, feathers – the boys cant walk past a feather without presenting it to me like they’ve won the lottery – twigs, leaves – we have a Clematis plant weaving it’s way into our bedroom from outside as we speak. I’m trying to train it to weave its way around all the frames on the walls. I basically like to bring the outside, inside at any given opportunity. And most of my days are spent outside, rain or shine.
You live in Oxfordshire; did you make a conscious effort to be away from London and city life? 
No, not at all. I love London. When I was little, growing up in the country, all I wanted was to be stomping up and down a pavement surrounded by skyscrapers and shops. We moved here purely because we found our dream house and we knew one day we were going to move. We also found out we were having another baby, another boy and therefore our little cottage in London was going to have to go anyway. Saying that though, having been here for a few years now the idea of living in London again slightly fills me with dread.
You have three boys. What do they love most about living in the countryside? 
The space. They’re like small, explosive energy balls and need to run around 24/7. They’re at the stage too where everything becomes an imaginary weapon – everything they touch gets turned into a sword/gun/shield and I’m always made to be the ‘baddie’. So there’s a lot of walks, park life and hanging out in the garden, purely so the house isn’t smashed to smithereens.
We’ve been conditioned to believe in the romance of flowers, and their potency as a beautiful gift. What do you think it is about flowers that make us so delighted? 
Their simple beauty. The fact that they’re living things. How they change in front of your eyes I think is just so magical. 
What are your favourite flowers to work with? 
Lilac in the winter, foxgloves and peonies in the summer and dahlias a bit later on. And then berries in the autumn.
What are your favourite flowers to receive? 
Something deliciously scented makes me really happy. Narcissi from the Isles of Scilly are heaven sent in the winter but I think if I really had to choose, English grown garden roses would be my top choice. 
What is next for you? How would you like your business to grow? 
I’m writing a new book, all about flowers which will be out in September 2016. My business is slowly growing and I’m being asked to do more and more events which I cant do alone any more. So I’m looking for assistants as we speak and then later down the line I’d love to have a big team, maybe a shop where we’d work from and be able to do much bigger scale jobs… and then there’s also a flower box subscription somewhere in the pipeline. I love to dream!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Bag it up

Currently at the top of my wish list is this vision of a bag.  Looks like Etro but it's actually Zara.  Perfect for daytime, night time, smart, casual, festival, Lego land... what more could you want?

Friday, 10 April 2015

T u l i p C e n t r a l

Tulip time is one of the highlights of my flowery calendar.  Sitting in front of me as I type are the most beautiful mix of tulips - striped, parrots, tall, small - so ridiculously pretty they don't look real.  If you feel like a flowery outing this weekend and don't have the time to go to Holland, Worton organic is the place is the next best thing.  

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Bobo Choses

I don't think the smallest Cub has one item of new clothing.  Being the third boy, everything is a hand me down.  I obviously exaggerate,  he's been given a lot of divine little creations, but I personally haven't bought a thing.  Apart from maybe a bib or two. 
Two weeks ago I went to Amsterdam to surprise my brother Ned on his 30th birthday.  I had a couple of hours to kill and on the train into the city was directed to the 'Nine Lanes' area for a shop and a potter.   I had a bit of an ignorant view of Amsterdam before I went - clogs, red lights, cheese, maybe a tulip or two.  I now feel rather embarrassed about my naivety and can't wait to go back again and explore properly.

 The children's clothes shops there are like no others I've ever come across - brands I've never even heard of and the coolest, most original designs and styles.  With no suitcase to hand I had to leave empty handed -  though me and Mr Fedex are now becoming firm friends since my return.
Bobo Choses was my favourite discovery;  it's watermelon strewn collection is properly sensational - desperate to get some adult sized pieces.  I yet haven't broached the subject of the pink onesie that's hiding in my office with Chaz, yet.  Boys can wear pink though, no?

Watermelon Onesie by Bobo Choses

Bobo Choses Mr Puzzled sweatshirt

Bobo Choses watermelon T

There's even a baby grow...

These starry sensations are by Louis Louise, another new Dutch discovery that I wish came in my size.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Mulberry Lunch Flowers

Since the arrival of the newest Cublet, I've been properly hibernating.  Living life slightly a la Waynetta Slob.  I've spent two months in pyjamas.   Night and day.  Maybe a tracksuit bottom for a good day/special occasion. I've had Nashville on on a loop, pesto pasta for every meal  and all forms of self-beautification felt like a far and distant memory.  I cannot remember the last time my legs saw a moisturiser.  Or I saw them for that matter.  Poor Chaz.  
But last week I ran out of Nashville episodes, the sun put his hat on and I did start to feel slightly more human again.  I got back in my jeans, did the school run with all three and even put on mascara.

And then I went back to work.  My first job, post baby -  flowers for a spring lunch in London at the Mulberry showroom.  The brief was to create a relaxed yet wild feel with green and white flowers and all in takeable-home vases.  So I did a mix of white potted muscari in ribbed, chunky glass jars and Kilner jars bursting with ammi, ranunculas, anemones, blossom and lilac.

Even if I say so myself, they did look pretty special.  Perfect for a spring time wedding in case anyone reading is thinking about that...

Monday, 26 January 2015

And then there were three...

Our newest, incredibly divine arrival, is another blue one!  Another darling Cub to add to the pack.  Kit Fox Rocket arrived into the world three weeks ago and I will happily admit that I am on a totally different planet to the one I usually inhabit.  Three boys under five is quite something.  The last three weeks have passed in a total and utter blur and I have no idea how the hell I'm ever going to get anything done ever again. Thankfully my brain has signed off meaning I actually can't think any further than that thought.  I guess Mother Nature's kind like that.

The smallest new Cub

So far, the hardest part has been attempting to give all three equal amounts of love and attention, pretending that the smallest Cub's arrival hasn't changed a thing.  The bigger two are not impressed by this new intruder.   Not remotely enjoying his 24/7 crying or the fact that he gets to cling to me all day long.  The first glimpse of the dodgy-looking tummy button cord on night one sent the bigger one into a total spin. Proper hysteria/hyperventilating for a good hour. And then he wouldn't come anywhere near him until it had fallen off.  

Not wanting to scare them about the whole birthing process, they're blissfully unaware of the agony of my c-section scar.  So to them, seeing as I'm no longer a "massive fatso", my role as playmate/punchbag has been instantly resumed.  Coming up with creative reasons for why I can't yet roll around on the floor being a Ninja Turtle or bounce on the trampoline fighting Lego ninjas, is a full time job in itself. 

Although progress has been made.   He earnt their respect after covering me and my brand new J Crew pyjamas with jet propelled, yellow diarrhoea whilst we were all lying in bed this weekend.  Result.  So slowly, I think we'll get there.  I may be black and blue and covered in poo but I have a good feeling about our new life with three...

Sunday, 4 January 2015

New Year Skin Rescue

I am beyond thrilled that the new year is here and 2014 is no longer with us.  I am determined that this coming year is going to be a LOT better than the last.  Our new small Cub is about to arrive for starters - any second in fact- so we're off to a good start so far...

I'm meant to be taking down Christmas decorations and re-packing my hospital bag, for the third time but I quickly wanted to share one of my best Christmas finds before I go MIA for a few weeks.
I bought this for my Mum for Christmas but it turns out that she already had it. So being too fat (lazy) to take it back, I thought I'd save myself the hell of the festive post office queues and treat myself to it too.  India Knight wrote about it a few months ago and made it sound semi-miraculous.  It is aimed at more mature skin but I thought with the sleep deprivation that's coming way, I'll be looking like I belong to that camp in no time at all.
It's called 'In Transit, Camera Close Up', made by This Works.  A mask, moisturiser and primer in one, it really is quite sensational.  Old bat or not.  I like how instantly it works; you put it on straight onto clean skin and it immediately looks like you've been air brushed.  I should probably admit that I currently don't have any light bulbs in my bathroom but even Chaz has commented on how 'much better I look'.  I'm taking that as a compliment. 

So if you're looking for a New Year miracle helper, this is my suggestion.  And on that note, i'm signing off for a few weeks. I will be back again when my brain is working again.  
Wish me luck!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

December Florals

I feel I should apologise for my absence.

I haven't posted anything for far too long - as much as I've wanted to do - I'd been compiling the Christmas wish list for months - I just haven't had a second to do it.  Plus, country living has rendered us without phone lines and internet for weeks.  So it's not entirely my fault.  I thought I'd share my photo album for the last month showing what I've been up to so to prove I haven't been just sitting around slacking, getting fatter.  On that note, I can't quite believe just how soon the third small person will be here.  This weekend is going to spent organising/buying sterilisers/washing tiny baby grows.

Doing a Christmasy shoot with Jo Malone London in their London townhouse.

A 60th Lunch in a London restaurant.

A woodland, winter wonderland 40th Birthday party.

A Christmas breakfast for Jo Malone London.

A christmas lunch at Daylesford Organic.

A Christmas dinner at a client's house.

A christening at Blenheim Palace.