Next in our schedule of monthly interviews, we have managed to catch up with the inspiration that is Victoria Brotherson, the creative floristry force behind Scarlet and Violet. We are fortunate enough to be based just around the corner from this beautiful store, so regularly indulge in flowers from Vic and her team. They are always incredibly busy, so special thanks for agreeing to do this for us!
Scarlet and Violet launched in 2006, based in Kensal Rise, North West London. Prior to that Victoria had worked as a florist for 15 years. It was an accidental career choice for Victoria who left university (she studied Fine Art at Oxford) but decided that she wasn’t cut out to be a painter. After passing by a shop with a ‘to let’ sign for 6 months, Vic decided to take the terrifying plunge into opening her own business. Scarlet and Violet was conceived as a workshop that would double as a shop, and it has grown into an eclectic and ever changing showcase for Victoria’s unique style.
Vic puts it perfectly when she says “We are good at making flowers seem easy and relaxed. Intimate dinners and small weddings are our forte. Lots of our clients ideal is that the guests think that they have done the flowers themselves, and I am very happy to be the invisible florist and carry on using the workman’s entrances and delivery doorbells!” Well, we can reveal that one of these ‘intimate dinners’ was with Vogue and Louis Vuitton in the penthouse of the new Bond Street store, and a few of those ‘small weddings’ have featured the joining of some very well known names…
For you, what is the most important aspect of being an independent retailer?
Freedom is the obvious one. We can play with how the shop looks, we can decide which jobs we take on and maintain some kind of balance between work and rest (in my dreams!) There is no real rule book so making decisions brings challenges, and whether these are right or wrong, I only have myself to blame.
Care to share any floral don’ts or disasters?
Touch wood, no disasters yet. Don’t ever be snobbish about flowers, there are loads of inexpensive flowers and foliage that work just as well as the pricey ones.
Which comes first for you and Scarlet & Violet, personal style or trends?
Personal style for sure. Each of the girls in the shop has their own style when it comes to flowers (and clothes!). Each of our clients is unique too, and that is something that is crucial to what we do. We have to have an understanding of their taste before installing flowers in houses or indeed coming up with ideas for a wedding. It is not about me inflicting ideas or style, but much more collaborative than that.
Do you think that ethical and sustainable issues are at all relevant to what you do?
Of course we try hard to find the most friendly options in everything we do. We create a lot of waste but the majority is flower matter and we pay some astronomical price to get it all recycled. We’ve talked about composting but there would just be a mountain!
What project are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
We are doing a book, so far so good! I can’t give you any more details just yet…
What or who are your longest standing design influences?
I think I am really quite rooted in a very classic style. My preference is always for the old. Textiles and interiors inspire me more than anything.
What’s currently inspiring you?
All the foliage we have at this time of year in amazing so I would say “green”.
How would you describe Scarlet & Violet’s aesthetic?
I can’t it always sounds really contrived when put into words. Its much easier to make something!
What is currently tempting you into making a purchase, for you, your home or your shop?
We have just got a load of old milk bottles and french flip top jars which are brilliant with really mismatched flowers.
How has the floristry scene changed since you opened your business?
I think most consumers buy flowers from the supermarket rather than independents so we have to make sure we really do present something unique as we can’t compete any other ways.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The sense of satisfaction when I make something that just works still gives me real pleasure.
I feel most creative when…
I am in the shop alone either really early or late and surrounded by all the peculiar things we have in there amongst all the flowers.
Any final word of advise?
If you ever see something you love and can afford, it don’t leave it there! This applies particularly to antiques and one offs.
Click here to see more interviews with people and businesses’ that inspire us.