Behind The Willow & Bear Brand

‘Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’

Image By Clare Coleman

When you are as old as I am the expectation when leaving school was to find a career that would be a ‘calling’ and a job that you would see out your work days with. Length of service was encouraged and acknowledged as a positive thing and people stayed in jobs when they were burnt out and unmotivated but, luckily times and attitudes have changed along with expectations of a work life balance.

Image By Rachel Wardley

The Plan

I left school without the best qualifications knowing that I wanted a professional career working in health. I moved away from home where I completed a health studies degree which was perhaps fate as it was at this time that I met ‘the other one’ and my life changed forever.

After 3 years studying, I went on to study further, completing a professional degree in Occupational therapy at University in York. Again, fate that I should select York to study and where I set up home with Matthew ‘the other one’. York remains home to this day and where you will still find the W&B studio and workshop.

Image By Amy Faith

A year later after setting up home we married and a year after that our first son was born. I continued working on my plan as an Occupational therapist and juggling work and family life with the arrival of our second son. But then it changed. I lost the spark of joy for my plan and I lost a little magic in myself. Whilst being someone’s mum I sought out activities to help me find something that was ‘me’ and that’s where I fell in love with flowers all over again but the time wasn’t right and becoming a wedding florist was only a dream.

Image By Clare Coleman

It was years later, after working in senior positions in the corporate world that a series of events led me to a time in my life where I must decide ‘now or never’ and I followed my dream and Willow and Bear Floral Design was born.

Making The Jump

I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. I had so much to learn (and I continue to learn every day), It was financially a strain leaving a well-paid role and going self-employed, I made many mistakes and I struggled so much with my confidence feeling like an imposter in the floristry world. But I knew it felt right and I hung on in there with the support of my amazing family and friends. I now realise that my experience was not unusual and I was not alone with many other wedding florists coming to their roles later in life.

‘The other one’ continued to be faithfully by my side encouraging me, guiding me and helping me to keep focus on how to turn a hobby into a business. He most definitely is my better half and I owe him so much for supporting me to follow my dream. Despite him having a ‘proper job’ you may find ‘the other one’ helping me at weddings as my biggest cheerleader and he’s pretty good with a dustpan and brush too!

I must also give a shout out to my boys who are very much part of the team helping where they can and always supporting me. And also, to a group of very special friends (you know who you are) who have my back with unbelievable support, advice and with the creation of incredible floral designs.

‘Team work makes the dream work’

What is it really like running a floristry business?

It is hard work both physically and mentally. At home we talk about work pretty much ALL THE TIME; I really do love my work that much. I often ache from lugging buckets of flowers around and standing for 12 hours straight prepping ingredients, it can be cold and too hot and I so wish I could be one of those wonderfully glamourous wedding florists that look pristine all the time (I’m definitely not) but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I am so proud of what has been achieved so far and there are so many exciting things ahead for W&B.

I get to work on some incredible projects with some wonderful couples and I often can’t believe my luck. I won’t lie I’m not a fan of the admin and ‘the other one’ will tell you that I am rubbish at doing my accounts but boy, the payback is when I hear how much couples have enjoyed their wedding experience and I have a little jump for joy! 

I’ll never be rich in monetary terms but I will definitely be rich with the warmth and happiness that I can share with others by creating their dream wedding.

Here we are now

So here we are. This is a rare sight of me & ‘the other one’ being pictured together trying to be serious.

My advice best advice is … life is for living so never be afraid to follow your dreams!