Chapel Designers: Pushing for florist excellence

21 April 2016

I was both excited and privileged to attend the Chapel Designers course in London last week.  Held over three days and promising new techniques, business tips, practical training and knowledge updates, I knew it was going to be invaluable but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so much fun!

Positioned as a ‘gathering of stylish wedding experts’, Chapel Designers is committed to promoting excellence amongst florists and event creatives.  Offering support, training and mentoring, their mission is to encourage and cultivate individual talent.

The course was run by Holly and Evan Chapple and Nick Priestley at Brixton East 1871, an amazing venue and truly inspirational space in the heart of Brixton. A nineteenth century furniture warehouse with minimal finishing to floors and walls, the characterful building was a perfect creative canvas (and an Instragrammer’s dream!). 

As well as demonstrations by top London florists including Athena and Mairead from Rebel Rebel, Paula Pryke and Shane Connolly of Royal wedding fame, we had some brilliant hands-on sessions focussing on new techniques and trends.  One of my favourite parts of the course was learning how to create huge, overhead displays, which we attempted as team exercise and later admired over dinner; it felt like a real achievement and armed me with useful knowledge to re-create with my team back in Didsbury.

We also spent some time with Floral Angels who recycle and repurpose flowers from events and give them out to hospitals, hospices, care homes and women’s refuges in London. It is run by volunteers and is a brilliant charity initiative. After a last admiring glance, we took our overhead structure and recycled it in to bouquets to be delivered that day.

Looking at our businesses as well as our techniques, we also enjoyed a session with writer and trainer, Rona Wheeldon from Flowerona, examining how we could all make the most of social media.

The highlight was our dinner on the Tuesday evening which was attended by all of the delegates, tutors and industry leaders. We all ate on tables that were beautifully dressed with the overhead structures and vases at the base with rose heads laid on each of the place settings. It was a gorgeous evening, wonderfully relaxed and buzzing with excited chatter.  I had so much fun talking to everyone, but a mention has to go out to Kate from Paragon Floral Design, Sarah from Leafy Couture and Jane from Wedding and Events who I spent most of the course with. We had such fun and it made the whole experience truly memorable.

This is the first time I have attended the Chapel Designers course, but it won’t be my last.  Holly, Evan and Nick were fantastic hosts and tutors and deserve a round of applause for all their hard work.  I learned a lot and it was amazing to meet so many other florists, passionate about the industry.

I left armed with tons of additional knowledge and bursting with ideas.  I have shared many of the new techniques I have learned with the team already, especially focussing on the key current trend for looser, flowing, unstructured bouquets and now available at your local florist, The Flower Lounge.