The Flower Bar
Homed in our EcoFresh building, The Flower Bar joined us during the Great Lockdown of 2020 as it's now known, (it's not of course, but we can't write the real words we associate with it!). A visual feast for the eyes, The Flower Bar is the brain-child of Owner and Creative Director, Philomena.
Stocking beautiful, British blooms to create exciting, rustic designs born out of a lifetime's passion for all things floral, with a handy eco-twist.
How, where and why The Flower Bar began.
Philomena has always been obsessed with flowers. When out shopping with her mum as a small child, she'd always say no to sweets, in turn, requesting a flower instead. Visiting the local florist on the way home, she'd be drawn to anything very bright and very pink. Usually a gerbera, flower fans.
Philomena knew she wanted to be a florist and was delighted to be accepted as an apprentice for a local floristry firm when finishing school.
With over 70 year's experience, the business taught her a huge amount, and she revelled in everything she learnt there. Absorbing all their knowledge and experience to expand her own skills.
Believing she'd be there for life, sadly for Philomena the economy had other plans, and the business closed in the midst of difficult trading times. After struggling to find another full-time floristry role, and a brief dalliance with Interflora deliveries, she decided the time had come to go it alone instead.
Converting her Dad's dilapidated old shed, she set up her own business and has never looked back. Five years on and she loves it more than ever!
These days she has more grown-up floral favourites, including hydrangeas, peonies, or David Austin roses, all with a splash of eucalyptus. But she does still love a bit of pink.
Why the Eco Village?
After outgrowing her father's shed, she moved to a bigger workshop and went from strength to strength; specialising in wedding and event floristry.
Once open, The Beths knew they wanted an in-house florist for the Eco Village; and with their paths having met on previous occasions, it wasn't long before Philomena's business had a shiny new name (The Flower Bar, silly) and a new home within our EcoFresh building.
Operating as a face-to-face retail outlet is a new direction for Philomena, but her charm and complete passion for her art has meant she's a huge hit with our customers. They adore her (as do we, of course!).
So, ten years on from that first step as an apprentice, and now fully set up as her own boutique florist, Philomena has made her childhood dream a reality. Which we might remind her of on those REALLY cold days out in the EcoFresh building!
Sustainability factors for The Flower Bar.
Typically, a florist can be rather fond of a good reel of cellophane and yards of Polypropylene ribbon. But that just doesn't measure up against our zero waste ethos.
Already loving a rustic vibe, and natural fabrics, Philomena has worked incredibly hard to take steps for her product and packaging to be more sustainable.
Working with British growers wherever possible, she prefers to buy from small farms in the UK rather than import stock from overseas, all helping to reduce our carbon footprint here at the Village. For Christmas, she ordered pallets and pallets (nineteen to be precise!) of beautiful pine foliage for her wreaths, all grown in Ireland rather than Europe where it's typically farmed.
By working with local and independent businesses, she has a direct relationship with the farm, better able to react quickly to change (pretty handy this year), and support growth in the industry. All of which we adore.
Continuous improvements for The Flower Bar.
Packaging is probably the biggest area of change since joining us for The Flower Bar. Even down to the smallest detail (plastic-wrapped wires to be precise!) Philomena has been working with suppliers to adapt and instigate change for the industry.
Lovely and charming as she is, there is an inner strength to Philomena that is to be admired. If you saw her determination in sending perfectly good cardboard boxes back to her suppliers to be reused, then you'd know just what we mean! In fact, so persistent she was, that her suppliers now deliver using reusable crates. It's this strength to question and defy the norm that helps drive change for us all.
Her bouquets are wrapped in a biodegradable paper without the need for any cellophane, she's swapped Sellotape for kraft tape, wired ribbon for natural raffia. Philomena carefully researched the right kind of customised stamp to use for her branding instead of stickers.
The Flower Bar are chemical-free wherever possible too, so you won't see any little flower food sachets on your bouquets from the Village. However, by cutting the stems properly and changing the water daily (or as often as you can!) then chemicals aren't needed. (In fact, there's a handy tutorial for this on our Instagram channel if you'd like to know more!)
There are still a few changes to make, Philomena would be the first to tell you what those are, but already, the processes are a world away from where they started in less than a year. And it's those small changes that all contribute to a greater movement overall, one we'll all be thankful for in the future.
Things you probably didn't know about Philomena.
- Her favourite flowers are peonies, closely followed by hydrangeas.
- She loves the rugby, cheering on Northampton Saints all the way. Shame we've stolen all her Saturday afternoons.
- Her biggest floristry inspiration for many a year has been McQueens in London.
- She sometimes suffers from hay fever. Not ideal given her vocation!
- Philomena has recently discovered Sketchers, a total game-changer after 10 years of being stood on her feet. She will give you a glowing recommendation should you ask her.
- Philomena loves a glass or two of wine to unwind after a busy week at the Village. We promise we don't drive her to drink. Probably.
Find out more about The Flower Bar.
As soon as you step through the gates here at the Village, you'll see The Flower Bar in all its petally glory just inside the EcoFresh building to your right.