Region: North East
Location: Kirkburton, West Yorkshire
Anne-Marie Knight is new to flower growing, having launched her business in April this year after spending most of her working life in the civil service. After taking voluntary redundancy in 2016, she went ‘back to school’ to study floristry. She now works part- time for a children's charity and runs her floristry business, Spring Wood Flowers, from her home workshop in Huddersfield.
She says: “I've had a love of flowers and gardening since my late teens, but it's always been an amateur passion and I never imagined I'd make a living out of it. I still don't yet - hence the part-time job."
Anne-Marie grows on a small scale on her predominantly woodland garden (that inspired the name of her business) and on her allotment, with the aim of providing the charismatic ‘extras’ for her floristry that she craves and which are very much part of her personal style.
She says: “I like to create a naturalistic look, quite full - my teacher said it's too full. A lot of my portfolio work so far is from my training, so I need time to gather more images of my own designs and those made for real customers, instead of for the restricted brief which my training imposed. I found it quite frustrating at times, especially the lack of environmental alternatives. There was definitely too much foam and cellophane."
Anne-Marie works by herself, but says she has incredible support and encouragement from her husband, and that her dad has also been a superstar in equipping her workshop space with storage and workbenches.
So far most of Spring Wood Flowers’ customers have been local and Anne-Marie has provided flowers for gifts, as well as doing some funeral and wedding work. She has just got her first corporate customer - a local restaurant - and has recently exhibited at two wedding fayres, so is hoping for more wedding bookings next season.
What’s been good about being a member of the FFTF network?
“I've learned a huge amount just from the FFTF closed Facebook group and I've purchased some absolutely beautiful flowers from local members, including Clems Garden and The Yorkshire Flower Patch. I like knowing that I'm buying locally, supporting other local businesses and trying to reduce my environmental impact.”
What’s been the highlight of your membership so far?
"The people. Everyone I've met, spoken to or interacted with on social media has been so friendly and welcoming. And, if I'm allowed two highlights: the flowers. I've had some ‘to die for’ dahlias and the quality of the flowers I've received has been amazing.”
Is there anything you’d like to see FFTF doing in the future?
“My City and Guilds training wasn't very hot on environmental awareness. I'd love to learn more about foam-free mechanics.”
What hopes do you have for business next year?
“I'd like to make better use of my small growing space, build up my wedding work and reduce my hours in the other job. I'd like to keep buying from local members and possibly explore offering some simple workshops - maybe making Christmas wreaths or flower crowns.”
You can follow Anne-Marie's flower farming progress via her Instagram: www.instagram.com/springwoodflowers