Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Working Women: Jay Archer Floral Design

I'm excited to feature my fourth in the Working Women series today. I love sharing the women who inspire me to create my creative working life! I've featured Chartreuse Inc.Elizabeth Duncan EventsMake Merry! and up today is the sweet and oh so talented Jay from Jay Archer Floral DesignJay Archer Floral Design is an award winning floral design company that has a specialty in adding homegrown, seasonal and locally sourced flowers to their designs. I was introduced to Jay when reading wedding blogs after moving to London and LOVED the look of her natural, from her own garden, freshly cut look of her arrangements. I personally met Jay at Fulham Palace our wedding venue} and immediately clicked with her after chatting away about flowers, glitter and all pretty things. I may be a little biased, because Jay is our florist for our wedding, but ladies, that aside, this women is a wonderful working woman! I love hearing from amazing women in the business and hearing the stories of how they started, how they struggle, how they grow. Here is a little spotlight on what a wonderful woman Jay is in the Biz and how she has grown her business. 

When did you start your business?
 I was thinking about this recently, as there seems to be a lot of anniversaries for JAFD to celebrate! I completed my first wedding in September 2010, but didn't really start promoting myself until September 2011 when I did a wedding fair... 2012 was my first bona fide year I suppose, and now I am into a 4 year of business, 2014. I've been training on and off since I was 18, so 8 years ago now, and have always known about and loved flowers since I was knee high to a grasshopper!

What advice do you have for younger women looking to start their own flower business?

When I started in business, I was so worried about everything- did I have to register the business, would I go to prison for tax dodging- all sorts of silly things. I worried so much it nearly stopped me starting up! My problem was that despite trying to get help and answers to questions, the people I met and the websites I visited all had different perspectives. I now have a good book keeper and accountant, both of whom have taught me so much and helped with things I wouldn't have even realised was in their remit- surround yourself with true professional people, and join a women in business group, where you can ask questions in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Invest in people from an early stage and you'll be set up for life.

On a personal level, I heard this recently:
'I always try to remind everyone that anything can happen at any moment. We've worked so hard for what we have built, but it could all be gone somehow any day. It is important to make sure we do things for the right reasons, and don't live day in and out only as a means to someidealistic beautiful end'. 

I spent too much time thinking about tomorrow, not taking each moment and achievement for what it was, and it's easy to let life pass you by- something I am still guilty of, but getting married myself this year is really helping achieve that work life balance and give some perspective. Whilst you absolutely have to immerse yourself in your business to make it become a successful reality, and the hard work never stops, you have to play hard too- not making you time is disastrous, and actually nearly broke me. 

Don't get too wrapped up with social media too- it over-complicates things, and makes you lose perspective. Finally, I'd said it is OK to let some opportunities pass you by- once upon a time, I felt I had to say 'yes' to everything, or I'd miss out on something else. Now I have had double page spreads in high-end magazines, something I never thought possible, so good things will come when the time is right. Don't flog yourself!

     How would you describe the ideal Jay Archer couple? 

How long is a piece of string? Generally speaking, my couples tend to be modern women from about 21-35, with professional careers and yet who are creative. I am fortunate that many don't try to micro manage me- they give me a loose brief, ensure I understand their likes and dislikes but essentially trust me enough to create their flowery dreams! I have had a few challenging clients, but have now learnt to say no and have, at times, fired the client! 
This comes with experience though!

 Do you have a trademark style? 

People who book me tend to want something a bit different from the normal wedding aesthetic, favouring looser, more naturally arranged designs over tight, mushroom shaped bouquets. My love of foliage and herbs shines through, and most clients are happy with that- for those that aren't and favour more flower-filled schemes, they know they'll get something hopelessly romantic and abundant. I try not to pigeon hole myself too much, but I don't tent to create overly manipulated designs, or anything too formal or one shaded- most of my weddings are very colourful too.

What is your favourite part about running your own business? What is your LEAST favourite part?

 I enjoy the office side of it- the designing, sketching and planning the scheme, and following this through to selecting the flowers and setting up the wedding. I love being out on the road and meeting people, and that buzz you get when you’ve met with a client who you have just clicked with!  I did so many 2013 weddings- 75- but it would break me if I did the same this year. I have been more selective of clients for 2014, only taking on jobs that really inspire me and push me and which generally, are a higher budget. I have freelancers and work experience girls who work with me, and was at the point where I could have employed a 2nd person and expanding the business, but I chose not too as this would mean I wouldn't be able to complete the whole process form start to finish. I don’t think it’s right that a client could meet one person for planning and another on their wedding day. I made the decision to keep small and exclusive, so people really always get that first hand JAFD experience- they tell me I am my own UPS! 
The least favourite part is the midnight clear ups! Also, it was hard setting up but now I have a good balance and routine, I'm happier... so really, there's isn't a part where I ever think oh no! Its just working out what works for you, and making it the lifestyle you want. Once you get your head around that, it all falls in to place.

 Best moment of your career so far? 

There have been so many; getting my first wedding, getting my first press feature, getting my first 'big budget', giving up full time employment, being 'spotted' at market... I would LOVE to do flowers for one of the royal households and the Queen herself. I am a huge royalist, so that would be AMAZING! And, as cheesy as it may sound, this year really is full of so many weddings that will be a dream to work on, and we're working in some incredible and well known venues, as well as travelling to France for a wedding. I am particularly looking forward to a small Summer wedding I am doing, where the brides flower of choice is yellow roses- my Granddad’s fave flower, next to sweet peas and who my business logo was designed in honour of- so that'll be lovely.

Thank you SO much Jay fro sharing your story with us, your ups, your downs, your inspiration! I love hearing how creative women grow and as you can see….Jay Archer is blooming in business {hee hee, like the blooming!}. I love following Jay's Instagram feed above to see her beauties that come straight from the garden. Thank you Jay for being honest and opening your world to all of the hard work it takes to create such pretty events! I know I can't wait to see you in June! 

Find Jay Archer Floral Design: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram 

xoxo - Becca

You may also like to read the other Working Women Series if you liked this post! 


  1. Inspiring story and love the loose, natural arrangements...stunning! Thanks for sharing x

  2. What an amazing story - and woman! I LOVE her work!

  3. Hello!!! Gosh, thanks so much for your lovely, thoughtful words Rebecca. Maybe I am biased but this year will be epic for so many reasons- not least your own amazing wedding which, as you know, is very similar to my own wedding scheme! Honoured to be featured on your blog, and wishing you every personal success and well wishes for the year ahead... am looking forward to us meeting for cocktails at the end of it all, and de-briefing! Jxx

    1. Inspiring and honest interview. Being in the first year of business myself (but considerably older than Jay, having taken a career shift from Casino Manager!) it's funny to read about sharing the same worries and concerns.
      I enjoy following Jay's work and reading her inspiring words wherever they appear - thanks for sharing


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