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Sustainability, sticks and smelly water!

Meet Siân Wild, multiple wedding award winner and owner of The Flower Lounge in Didsbury, a pretty suburb of Manchester.

She grew up in a horticultural family and now puts her fabulous design style to good use running her 13 year old boutique business where she focuses on spoiling her customers with beautifully designed bouquets and creatively curated gifts as well as dressing immaculate weddings in surrounding Manchester and Cheshire.

We went to see Siân's shop earlier this year - you can see the video on our Facebook page - and it is GORGEOUS!! Here we discover what makes her tick!!

What three words would best describe you?

Siân – Creative, bubbly, generous

The Flower Lounge – Attentive, indulgent, artistic

Describe your design style

Fresh and seasonal with a naturalistic wild streak

Where do you go to look for design inspiration?

Walks in the countryside with my Labrador Charlie – he’s not the only one who comes home with sticks!

What do you see trending in floral design?

I have noticed brides moving away from foliage in their wedding designs. It’s all about the flowers!

What's out?

Hate to say it, because we love them and still stock them, but I think dried flowers may have had their moment. We’re seeing a surge in demand for fresh cut flowers and air-purifying plants.

Proudest design moment?

We’ve worked on some fabulous weddings but dressing Paul McCartney’s wrap party was a highlight and geek-out for the team! Held at Liverpool Arena, it was for friends and family, Christmas-themed using colours to complement a rug that his wife had designed.

What turns your stomach and why?

Flower contract vases when they come back to the shop! Even after 20 years of being a florist I am still not used to the disgusting water when they come back from a warm restaurant…bleurgh.

Shop or studio?

For me, it has ALWAYS been about owning my own shop. I absolutely love meeting, chatting with and serving customers and it gives me as much joy as working with flowers.

Why did you choose Didsbury and what sort of customers do you have?

I had lived in the area for a while and noticed that there was a gap in the market for a high-end florist. I am so delighted that The Flower Lounge has now become an integral part of Didsbury’s high street. We’re so lucky that our residents have a strong sense of community and love to support local businesses.

What’s your favourite flower?

It has to be hydrangea – every time!

What flower could - or do - you live without!

I think that everything has its place but I’m just not a fan of calla lilies at the moment. They’re not really working with our style and I find they don’t give much impact for the money.

How do you tick the ethical trading boxes in terms of environmental and sustainability issues and do customers care?

I think customers care a lot and increasingly so! We’ve been offering many of our hand-tied bouquets in vases for a while now to save on packaging and have introduced eco choices in our Floral Workshops and Funeral range, but until the rest of the flower industry catches up and demand forces prices down, it’s hard to do all that we want to.

Who are your heroes in the world of floristry and why?

I really admire Neill Strain. He has an amazing retail florist business and always pushes the boundaries.

Where do you find inspiration outside the flower world?

I’m a big fan of interiors and feel that floristry and interiors go hand in hand. It’s always good to see where the trends are heading and how it will shape the trends in the floristry world.

What did you learn from the pandemic and did it change your perspective or goals

Personally, I discovered how much I need to slow down. I’m not very good at sitting still or switching off at the best of times, so throw into navigating the pandemic, reassuring staff and customers, adjusting our offer, re-branding the business and, what the heck, moving house, I was driving at full speed even through the nightmare of Covid-19. It did catch up with me though and I’ve become much better at building in time off and time out, recognising when I need to just bring it back a few steps.

What are you most excited about in the next year?

Personally, the big 4-0 birthday is looming and I have some lovely treats planned that I can’t wait for. Birthdays are for milking right? But in terms of the shop, we are in early discussions about some super exciting collaborations that I can’t wait to see come to fruition and start to promote. I think our customers are going to love them – watch this space!

Where do you see the future for your business and floristry in general?

I think the recent boom in weddings will continue, beyond the rescheduled events and pandemic cancellations, as couples start to feel more confident.

Short term and with the recession looming, I think the trend of buying blooms for others rather than ourselves will gain momentum, buoyed by the kindness and outreach experienced during lockdown. So I think gifting and postable flowers will continue to be popular.

I’m also optimistic that, admittedly in the longer term, the joy of having fresh flowers in the home will become less of an indulgence and more of a household essential.

Best business decision?

Recognising that I can’t do EVERYTHING! Learning to focus on the tasks where I can add value and grow the business, and delegating the rest, has been crucial to recent business success (and my sanity!). I still work a lot of hours, but I am now focussed ‘on’ the business and not drowning ‘in’ it.

I wholeheartedly recommending outsourcing; we are human and only have so many pairs of hands. I have a fantastic support team in Queen Bee, whom I use for a variety of admin and marketing tasks. They are the difference between clearing my head on a walk in hill-top fresh air with Charlie and crying into my laptop of unread emails.

Worst business decision?

I don’t think I have made many and if I have, I have learnt from them which is very important.

If you weren't a florist, what would you like to do?

I genuinely couldn’t imagine anything else! Although I would definitely give professional gig-going a try…

The perfect day to recharge your batteries?

It would have to involve a gentle stroll on the beach with Charlie, followed by a (veggie) Sunday roast and then a night in front of the log burner. You could twist my arm with a day in New York too.

Greatest indulgence?

My Mulberry handbag. It was a present to myself on one of the shop’s anniversaries and as boss, I felt it important to recognise all the hard work and long hours I’d invested. It’s timeless and I love it.

What's your biggest pet hate about the flower industry?

Poor customer service. It is such a fundamental part of retail but one that so many businesses get wrong or simply ignore. At The Flower Lounge, we invest in training to teach our staff properly and it really helps us to maintain the high standards of service that we pride ourselves on.

What do you find most difficult about running a business?

I’m not very good at switching off. My work is such a passion that it’s really hard to know when to stop working and wind down.

Is the customer always right?

Not always, but we constantly do our best to make sure that the customer is happy.

Best piece of advice to someone starting out in the industry?

Understand your value and charge accordingly. As an industry I think we are prone to undervaluing our services. A decorator doesn’t just charge you for paint, they charge you for their labour and expertise!

Believe in your talent and your experience and don’t be tempted to compete with inferior competition. Educating the customer and being the florist professional who brings the A-game to every order.

Best bit of advice for someone who’s been trading a while and is getting stale/weary/losing their mojo!!

Chat to others! Whether that’s a mentor, a fellow florist or a networking group, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and open up. Chances are they’ve felt similar at some point and can offer some sound advice or a fresh perspective.

What’s your best marketing tip to other florists? Facebook or Insta, reels and videos or something else ... and why?

Invest in professional photography. You can use it on your website, your emails, your socials and more and it really elevates the perception of your brand as a quality offering, whatever marketing channel you choose. Branding too actually, again outsourced to a professional as it is so much more than just a logo. Get these foundations right and it will really pay off.

How do you keep your team motivated?

Countless cups of tea and limitless cuddles with Charlie! But in all seriousness, I am blessed with an incredible team, and I like to think it’s because I listen and always put them first. Training, team outings and socials too, but number one would be really listening to their ideas – they’re living and breathing this business too, so I value their professional input. If we’ve all bought in to an idea then we’re all motivated to make it happen!

What has been your biggest achievement?

Winning Retail Florist of the Year and Wedding Florist of the Year. They were very proud moments both for me and the team.

What’s something you dream of doing?

At the moment, having a week off is something I dream of doing! I would also love to design a range of florist specific products one day…

Most cringe-making moment of your career?

Delivering a bridal bouquet to a bride and waxing lyrical about all the blooms, telling her how to hold it etc.. and then realising it was the bride’s identical twin sister and the bride was behind me thinking it was hilarious!

What's one thing you would tell your younger self?

Just do it!

And finally, the plug!

The Flower Lounge is an award-winning boutique florist in the trendy suburb of Didsbury, South Manchester with a reputation for creativity, innovation and passion, delivered with outstanding customer service. Working with the very best flowers and served by a talented team, you will receive our undivided attention as we go the extra mile to make sure you (and your recipient) feel spoiled from start to finish.

See a taster of Siân's shop here - visit her insta account for more gorgeousness and inspiration!




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