#girlboss profile No2: Lauren from Concept Flowers

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Eeeeek!! I have been so excited to share with you our second #girlboss profile, all about the awesome lady who is behind Concept Flowers, Lauren Curry. It has been such a pleasure getting to know Lauren over the last few years, being friends in the industry, as well as (when we’re lucky) working alongside each other on weddings and styled shoots. Lauren is such a whirlwind of a character and her pure creativeness and passion for her work, shines through in everything she does and is truly infectious!

Lauren has recently taken a big step in her career in leasing a unit to work from, and I know her already successful floristry business, is going to grow in leaps and bounds.

Heres what happened when I visited Lauren (and Bruce the best florist puppy around) at Concept Flowers HQ a few weeks back….

Tell us about your decision to launch Concept Flowers. What inspired it?
After completing my masters degree in Floristry, I found finding someone to employ me in the local area was a challenge. Recession had hit, small business were not thinking of hiring, but more like firing!and In a lot of cases my difficulties in finding work was due to being over qualified, Which to be honest, really made me sad and question my future in floristry.  I’d found a love and passion for flowers and wanted to work, or pass this onto other somehow, but kept hitting this wall. So I decided that I should try this for myself.
Build a company where creativity and passion is infectious, but one which ultimately is professional, experienced and qualified. As part of the masters degree, I learnt how to write a business plan, because this gave me a bit of knowledge and confidence, to give it a go, I thought, sod it! the worst anyone is do is going to say no! LETS DO THIS!

Were there any lifestyle changes you had to make in order to make the leap? Did you ever doubt your decision?
I guess I made the most out of living with my parents whilst I built the business up, believe me this helped! I have an awful lot to thank them for. And sure thing I did! From sitting in that meeting with the bank manager, to sitting right here right now on the sofa typing this, I have doubted myself a lot along the way, not just on the decision to start my business, but the decisions to grow the business along the way too… but once you start doing what you love for a living… its kind of hard to give up on that- its the key to being happy and that I manage to get by at the same time is a blessing.

The actual process of getting a company off the ground is challenging. What steps did you take to set it up for success?
Originally I started with writing my business plan, approaching the bank and achieving a small start up business loan, 5 years later, and I found myself repeating the process to move forward to gain the new Concept Flowers HQ over in Poole.
The second time around is more nerve wracking than the first! haha!

What does a typical day in the workshop look like for you?                                             Oh man- theres sooo much more than just creating that goes on!
Admin- there is SO much admin and paperwork to do its relentless! However I am glad to be busy- thats totally not a complaint!

Sweeping, tidying up, prepping of packaging, buckets to be bleached, Bruce to be walked, buckets to be filled with water, flowers to be conditioned, floors to be mopped, flowers to be ordered, van to be cleaned, vases to be cleaned, sundries to buy, alllll alongside planning for the rest of the year- right now I am not only thinking about my brides to be for this weekend, but thinking of those in 2018 who are needing quotes, and of christmas! It is madness and you have to learn to juggle and prioritise.

What’s your favourite social media platform, and why?
I do love Instagram, its great for creatives to use it like a portfolio!
pinterest too is great for visually explaining whats in my clients heads to me,but I do feel it needs to come with a warning! The floral designs represented can be beautiful,but are usually pricey!

What is your work-life balance like? Do you think such a thing even exists when running a company?
hahahahaha!
I work all the time….but at different times of the year, the stress and pressure and hours vary!
At the height of wedding season, Ive been known to be sending emails from the kitchen whilst I’m cooking the dinner, or I take my paperwork to the beach just so I can join in on days out with friends and family, and yes.. that kind of is my decision to do so. but you also HAVE to work hard in this industry if you want to reap anything from it in the end!

I have learnt over the years ,you can say no, and be a bit firmer and Fairer to yourself- its not selfishness, its self preservation
Very rarely do I get to escape, and when I do, that time is incredibly precious to me and good for my soul!

What have been some of your professional highlights?
All of it to be fair! Im lucky enough to do what I love for a living!
However I enjoyed myself immensely participating at Chelsea Flower Show and winning a Silver Gilt and a Bronze medal.
This year I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in an international photoshoot with Floral Fundamentals and went over to holland to visit growers of the products I work with on a daily basis – that was pretty sweet!

What is one thing you wish you had known before starting Concept Flowers?
tricky question.. I quite like that this whole process so far has been such a creative and emotional rollercoaster, and that along side the business growing and maturing along the years, that I have done so at the same time with it.
I guess…. that i’ll answer this one with that;
mistakes get made, don’t be afraid to make them, and don’t be afraid to make changes, just have faith in yourself and keep on swimming!

What’s next for the company?
since moving into the unit, I guess its time to find my feet there!
workshops, more weddings, a new website, and i’ll be opening up as a pop-up-shop over christmas this year which I’m really looking forward to doing!

What advice would you give other women hoping to run a company or propel their careers forward?                                                                                                                              To not loose sight of who you are and not to be scared to make sacrifices for what you believe in.
Having a strong wolfpack around you is essential.
Always take time to fall back in love with your creative soul.

Best moment of your career so far?
Is it corny to say that every time a client is happy with the flowers created for them, it gets filed under “best moment so far”
its such a lush feeling to put smiles on others faces through something I have made.

What advice would you give your 24-year-old self?
Keep on, Keeping on!
You got this.

One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Oh jeez.. just the one thing?! hahaha.
I know THE WHOLE of the script, songs and all, to the film The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Thankyou Tim Burton and Danny Elfman.

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#girlboss profile: Emma Woods from Fancie Buns Cakery

Im super excited to share with you the first of my #girlboss profiles, a series of profiles on some amazing female entrepreneurs in creative industries. So to kick off the series I spent some time with Emma Woods from Fancie Buns Cakery, in her new studio in Dorset.

As well as being a wedding supplier friend of mine, Emma is a national industry award winner and an extremely successful female business owner. Since starting in the wedding industry myself 5 years ago, it has been so inspiring watching Emma grow her wedding cake business from strength to strength, from awesome branding to the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen (or tasted) she can be an inspiration to us all!

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Tell us about your decision to launch Fancie Buns Cakery. What inspired it? – When I had my daughter in 2010 I starting making cakes for her birthday & found that I had a real passion for cake decorating. Soon friends started asking me to make cakes for them so I registered as a business and it grew pretty quickly from there.

Were there any lifestyle changes you had to make in order to make the leap? Did you ever doubt your decision? – Initially I worked it alongside my employment as a Small Business Manager, so I was working long hours, late into the night & weekends. I gradually built the business to a point where I could leave my employment, it was a huge decision for me & sometimes I long for a 9-5 job but I know I would get bored of that very quickly! Being self employed gives me the opportunities to grow my business, reap the rewards of all that overtime & keeps me motivated doing something that I love.

The actual process of getting a company off the ground is challenging. What steps did you take to set it up for success? – I desperately wanted to give up my job, so I had to push the business forward quickly to enable me to replace my salary, that was my focus & the driving force. I set myself a goal date for giving up my job & I worked hard promoting the business to grow my order book which then meant I met my goal! I had a very clear vision for my business brand & cake design style.

What does a typical day in the studio look like for you? – My days are quite varied depending on what the to do list is for that day, at the beginning of the week it’s admin & sugar flower making which is a little more relaxed! If its a baking day then the oven goes on straight away & it’s a full on day of baking tier after tier, then lots of washing up! Once the cakes are baked they need filling, ganaching & icing, this will be over 2 days, if it’s summer season then these will be long days. Friday’s are stacking & decorating days, one of my favourite days, seeing the sketch & design I drew up with my couples come to life.

What’s your favourite social media platform, and why? – At the moment I am loving Instagram, it’s a little more informal than Facebook & I tend to do more of a behind the scenes feed. There is a great community feel as well, with a lot more interaction with fellow suppliers & also other cake decorators.

What is your work-life balance like? Do you think such a thing even exists when running a company? – I’m definitely better at balancing this now than my first few years, however during the summer months I have no social life! I have made sure I now book some time off during the school holidays to keep me sane & to spend some time with my family. Having said that working for myself means I can do all the school drop off’s & pick up’s something I couldn’t do before, I have more flexibility.

What have been some of your professional highlights? – Definitely leaving my job, that was a huge decision & I am incredibly proud of making that leap! Winning the UK Wedding Awards for the best wedding cake company last year was just incredible, I never expected that & it’s been fantastic for my business. Last year I was commissioned by Danny & Jo Dyer to create their Spanish themed wedding cake, it was an amazing opportunity & one that doesn’t come along often. Then at the end of last year taking on my little cake studio was just amazing.

What is one thing you wish you had known before starting Fancie Buns Cakery? – The amount of hours I would work, or how much cake ’stuff’ I would accumulate! However I don’t think that would have put me off, I’m pretty determined when I have my mind set on something!

What’s next for the company? – I have recently launched cake decorating classes & this is something I would like to grow in the quieter season. An admin assistant or washer upper in the summer would also be nice!

What advice would you give other women hoping to run a company or propel their careers forward? – Be prepared for a lot of hard work & long hours. Sometimes things might not work but don’t let that knock you, keep going, keep focused on your own business & goals, it will take time but you will get there! A strong network of likeminded self employed friends is invaluable, I wouldn’t be where I am now without that support.

Best moment of your career so far? – Seeing the cake I created in Hello Magazine, that was a very surreal day! The pressure was immense but very rewarding.

What advice would you give your 25-year-old self? – Believe in who you are, always trust your gut instincts & don’t worry about the small stuff!

One thing people would be surprised to know about you? – I took a year out when I was 26 to go travelling, I did a sky dive, bungee jump & got my PADI diving certificate!