26 Sep Interview with Colin Gray – Managing Director, Lavender Green Flowers
What did you do before entering the world of flowers?
My first job was in venue finding then I quickly moved to event catering which allowed me to develop some creative flair. I have a passion for food and after 10yrs I moved down to Goodwood to take on the role of Food and Beverage Director for the Estate. including the racecourse, motor circuit, members club, hotel and the iconic Goodwood House. It was an eye opening experience and fuelled my love of the land and the beauty and nature of flora and fauna. Now at Lavender Green Flowers (LGF), behind the business side I get to be creative and feed a passion. I’m learning everyday. Understanding the seasons and diversity of the business has been a wonderful challenge. Flowers make you happy.
What makes Lavender Green stand out from other florists?
First and foremost it has to be the team of 32 incredible people. We have a family of extremely talented individuals that create masterpieces on a daily basis and take creativity to the next level. It’s not often you work with people that you know will give 110% every time! Before starting at LGF I never really appreciated the scale and diversity of what they produce and are able to offer. It has the scope to create huge installations for iconic events in venues such as Historic Royal Palaces, and the British Museum, display flowers for big sporting events such as Royal Ascot and Wimbledon, weekly contract flowers into some of London’s top hotels and just as important, the most beautiful bouquets from our South Kensington store to take home.
Did Lavender Green ever had a ‘we’ve made it’ moment’?
We still treat every opportunity as if it’s our first. You are only ever as good as your last job. I like to look at it more as our moments of success. Currently we are being approached on a weekly basis for some exciting opportunities that have resulted as a by-product of our work delivering on some incredible events. We are fortunate and very grateful that we have created a reputation that is pushing us in circles that give customers and clients the confidence that we are the right partner for them.
What has been the most memorable event that Lavender Green has worked on?
There have been moments that the team still remember either for the highs or the lows. Over the past 18 months two moments really stand out as incredible achievements for completely different reasons. The first is an extraordinary event at the British Museum. The volume and standard of the designs we had to deliver meant we had 40 crew on site with the best part of 3 x artic trucks full to the brim with 50+ metres of flower walls and 12 ft tall pedestal designs. It really was something to behold and pushed us all to the limits. We loved every minute of it.
The second is Royal Ascot week. Every year the team manages to produce exquisite designs despite the timescale. The workshop and design space turns into a 24 hour operation with a team of florists conditioning stems from 4am for the next team who arrive at 9am to start creating the designs, right up until midnight when the transport team come and prepare the arrangements for delivery to be complete at 7am.
How has the shop increased awareness of your brand?
A high street presence for us gives customers a chance to come and check us out. It allows the opportunity to take LGF home. I believe that having a customer-facing environment allows you to really understand how the market changes through the year. It also means you can chat to your customers and allow them to come and get a real sense of what LGF represents. We always try to be inspirational and enviable but not elitist, the store I believe, makes us approachable. It also means we get a chance to show off with store displays and share our creations with the passer by!
How do you feel that fresh flowers work alongside Twilight Trees?
Seamlessly, integrating them both is a great way of creating a bespoke look. Using the trees allows for height and drama and either underplanting or hanging fresh flowers gives a little extra opulence and depth to the designs.
You work in some amazing venues, is there any un-trodden soil that you’d love to conquer?
We are fortunate to work in many of London’s unique venues and some incredible private homes. I would love to challenge ourselves with new and wonderful briefs to push our comfort zone, I believe the locations are there; we just need to find some trusting clients that will let us go to town with the look and feel!
And last but not least… what’s your favourite flower?
This time of year it would have to be a Dahlia, the depth and variety of the colours and range in styles is incredible. The petals are complex. It’s a dramatic yet dignified flower that also has a wildness to it.