Careers

Fancy quitting your job and becoming a florist? This woman did just that

Posted by
Hannah Keegan
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Katie Smyth, Florist

Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Here, florist Katie Smyth takes us through her one-day diary, from morning latte to lights out.

MY ALARM GOES OFF…

As early as 3am if we’re going to the flower market. I snooze repeatedly until panic and guilt force me out of bed. Then I’m up and out the door in minutes; usually with my hair all over the place and a jumper on inside-out. Somewhere in the middle of that chaos, I make a flask of coffee.

MY COMMUTE…

Quite easy. One of our freelancers drives my co-founder Terri Chandler and I around like queens because I can’t pluck up the courage to take a van through Piccadilly Circus and Terri is competing for the record number of times you can fail a driving test.

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I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR…

Everything. We still oversee every design and installation and spend a lot of time up ladders or sending emails. Thankfully, we just hired an office manager and we have a team of freelance florists, too.

I GOT THE JOB…

By making it. That feels good. We started Worm with £5 in our bank accounts. I was working as a set designer, Terri was an actor, and we decided we were tired of working so hard for others and wanted to start something together. We took a floristry course, worked in restaurants in the evenings and put the little money we had into Worm. The harder we’ve worked, the more it’s grown.

Katie Smyth's company creates displays for big events.
Florist Katie Smyth's company creates displays for big events.

MY TYPICAL DAY…

Begins with collecting flowers at the market and having a chat with every person there. Then we spend a few hours at the studio preparing a display for a morning event. We head out to install it and then we’ll grab breakfast at Pret. We’re really lucky with the type of jobs that come our way. We love working with fashion brands and designers because those tend to be the most creative projects – it could be for a dinner, presentation or show. 

We learn a lot about each designer’s process. Recently, we created floral installations for Roksanda, who wanted fabric incorporated into them. In the end, we found this translucent material to weave into floral sculptures. I don’t really do lunch, but I do snack. In the afternoon, I try to block off time for brainstorming. We often don’t finish until 8pm as we’re setting up evening events.

WHEN I’M TIRED OR STRESSED I…

Have a bath and listen to Max Richter’s Sleep album.

MY GO-TO SNACK AT WORK IS…

Bourbon creams from the newsagent next to our studio.

Katie blocks out time in the afternoon to brainstorm.
Katie Smyth blocks out time in the afternoon to brainstorm.

MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT…

Isn’t the good times (there have been so many) but when things have gone spectacularly wrong. We massively underestimated one of the first big events we did, and it turned into chaos with stems flying everywhere. We cried in the taxi home. It was a wake-up call.

MY WORST WORK HABIT IS…

Losing keys. At least once a day there is a crazy panic to find them just as we’re running out the door. Usually they’ve been swept into the bin with cuttings or something.

MY EMAIL INBOX…

Haunts me in my dreams.

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AFTER WORK…

I love it if I have time to read. I just finished Deborah Levy’s The Cost Of Living. I’m into documentaries – I’d probably watch one about cardboard. Often, though, I’ll sit on the couch and fall asleep. I try to be in bed by 10.30pm.

My Plan B: doesn’t exist…

There have been many attempts at different careers in the past: set design, bingo calling, styling, office assisting (didn’t last long), waitressing, owning a pub (bad idea, too much fun), but I was never content. Now I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Photography: Holly McGlynn

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Author

Hannah Keegan

Hannah Keegan is the features writer at Stylist magazine.

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