Q&A with Lead Creative, Lara Richens, London

Every fortnight we invite you to take a peek behind the scenes at McQueens Flowers and meet the people who form the fabric of who we are, and what we create. Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to our London-based Lead Creative, Lara Richens.

How did you get into floristry as a career, Lara?

I fell into floristry almost accidentally. After completing my BA in Fine Arts, I found it hard to decide what kind of career I wanted to pursue. I just knew I wanted it to be something creative, so I had a flick through the local Adult Learning Centre guide to try and grab some inspiration. When the glass course I wanted to enrol on was fully booked, I picked another at random and it happened to be floristry, and it turned out I fell in love with that!

I guess it was always in my blood though, My Great Grandfather and Grandfather owned and ran a nursery in Surrey. It was here where my Mum then met my Dad who was employed there. The days of him randomly saying the botanical name of plants and him trying to teach me what I thought at the time was useless information has actually turned out pretty useful.

Tell us how you came to work at McQueens Flowers and what was your first experience at the company?

After working at a much smaller florist for many years, I decided I wanted to switch things up a bit and move back to London. McQueens Flowers was somewhere I always aspired to work at so on a whim I sent over my CV and then got a reply asking If I wanted to come for an interview. And I haven’t looked back since. My first experience was a whirlwind. I was thrown straight into things and by the end of my first week I had worked in the shop creating bouquets, I had made and installed arrangements for weekly contracts and helped create pieces for a wedding event at The Rosewood Hotel!

What do you enjoy most about floristry, and working at McQueens Flowers in particular?

I love the creativity involved. And then just when you think you’ve come to a creative block, the seasons change, and nature gives you a whole new palette to work with. At McQueens, the best part has got to be the people! It seems to attract the best type of person and it just makes for such an inspiring working environment. We also get to work in some amazing locations that you would never usually dream of going to.

What does your day-to-day typically look like?

No two days are ever the same! But most days do start pretty early, installing floral displays in the most outstanding hotels, just in time for the guests to wake up to a new installation. After that, it’s all about designing and creating the concepts for the next week; whether it’s drawing up new ideas, making proposals, selecting flowers or finding just the right vase.

Do you have a favourite flower?

This is a tough one! I think mine changes every season. You get used to what’s available and then suddenly a flower you haven’t used for 6 months turns up on the scene and that becomes your new favourite. I do however love a Gladiolus, specifically in deep purple. There’s something about rich velvety colours that just do it for me. I think that they are also pretty cheap and cheerful, which for me, is part of their charm.

If you weren’t in Floristry, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in floristry, it would definitely still have to be in something creative. I do a lot of dress making in my free time so something like a seamstress would be great. Being able to change a simple piece of material into a completely different form is highly rewarding. I also find editing preowned clothes to be pretty fun. I really enjoy developing my skills, so having the opportunity of going back to education and learning new things is something I wouldn’t say no to.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in becoming a florist?

Jump straight in! It will be hard work, but I definitely think learning on the job whilst simultaneously taking a course is the best way to truly see how the industry works. I think it’s good to learn the rules so you can break them later. And there are so many different courses all over the world, especially here in London, to help you start off and learn those rules, even if you do just want to become better at making flowers for your own home. Just go for it!

In light of upcoming International Women's Day (next month, March 08th), what does IWD mean to you?

It’s a day to celebrate the achievements of amazing women in the past who have given us a platform to work upon, and who have given us the opportunities to become the women we want to be and truly can be. It is also to champion the women who are changing the possibilities now, for the future generations, and who strive non-stop for equality, not just on the one day of recognition.