Behind the scenes: the creative process behind styling the workshops
Aren't other peoples' creative processes fascinating? I'm always intrigued by how people come up with the ideas that they do, and so in the spirit of that, I thought I'd give you an insight into mine. Planning, designing, writing and styling workshops is one of my most favourite things to do and something that I spend a lot of time on. I love it!
When I was planning what my new business would look like following my sabbatical I just knew I wanted to run workshops. And not just local, conference centre type workshops, but colourful, light filled extravaganzas with amazing food, beautiful styling and the sorts of personal touches that would transform the day into an event. I've always loved planning parties, styling tables and running workshops and I wanted to bring it all together into something to remember.
I was so inspired by the workshop I'd attended in New York with Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring - they'd styled it beautifully and it was held in a photographic studio so you can just imagine how light filled the room was. I'd also seen gorgeous workshops both by Bri Emery of Design Love Fest and also the Blogshop girls that I wanted to make sure I carved out enough time to do things my way. It's so easy to think "I'd love to do that but I don't have their platform" or "I'm not sure my customers just won't pay for it" but in my experience, if you create something special and unique then there will always be a market, you just need to find it.
As I've literally just finished working through the concept for this November's Colour Psychology for Creatives workshop, I thought it might be fun to give you a little insight into my creative process. Each workshop is different, although of course there are always certain things that remain the same: we always have flowers on the desks, we always put things on the walls, there are always flowers on the door and the handouts are always keepsakes as well as information. But I also love mixing it up. Changing the colour scheme, planning new cocktails for the end of the day and working up lots of handmade, personal touches to keep each one unique.
My Creative Process
I always start with the concept. This might be inspired by the time of year - as the Flowerona workshops usually are, or it could be more to do with the workshop content, as my first couple of Colour for Creatives workshops were. I'm always thinking about how I want people to feel when they enter the space, the impression we want to create and also the details that'll bring everything to life.
Then I'll work up a mood board, starting with Pinterest but always creating a hard copy in my Workshops sketchbook. I'll also pull together a colour palette, which not only gives me practical help in working up the handouts, it also helps me visualise how I'll pull together each individual element. I'm often thinking about how I'll add layers of texture and shape as well as the more two-dimensional handouts, action sheets etc.
I'm also thinking about scent, flavours and textures. We'll often burn candles in the welcome space downstairs, and so I like to think through what would be 'right' for the initial welcome. Flavoured waters are a lovely touch and are always inspired by the theme - last Autumn I made a blackberry and lemon verbena and an apple and cinnamon version which was a huge hit! I'd also created a more zingy kiwi and lime for my colour workshop the day before. Different moods suit different tastes don't they?
Oh, and how could I forget the cocktails. Rona and I have discovered we are quite the gin fiends, so we almost always put on a gin based cocktail (recently, Silent Pool has ousted Hendricks as my tipple of choice) as well as a vodka based one and of course, plenty of juices and pop for the drivers. I'll always write out mixing instructions and recipes and then we just put everything out for people to help themselves to. It's always a really fun and interactive end to the day.
Once we're at the market, the morning before the workshop I'll use my mood board to select flowers and plants as well as any peripherals like ribbon or washi tape. And again, I'll pull out either sketches or photographs once we arrive at Brixton East to show Steph how I'm hoping to style up the flowers. Preparing a workshop is a huge amount of work, and it takes a lot of energy, both emotionally and physically. But it's so fun, inspiring and rewarding that I wouldn't change it for the world!
Styling the workshops
For the very first Flowerona workshop I was channelling an English summer garden sort of a vibe. Watercolours, blues and pinks, flowers in and on the food and botanical illustrations on the walls. At this point Rona hadn't rebranded her blog so I really had an open book, but knowing Rona as I did, I wanted to keep things within the 'summer' personality in colour psychology terms.
By Autumn, Rona's rebrand was well underway, and helpfully enough, her colour palette: packed with damson, berry and blush colours as well as a splash of gold, lent themselves to a very Autumnal theme. I always discuss theme ideas and mood boards with Rona (of course!) as well as Maddie, our chef and Steph, our intern who cheerfully makes up the floral arrangements, however crazy. Maddie incorporated this autumnal theme into the most delicious food - blackberry friends and other scrumptiously seasonal dishes.
The following day was my very first Colour for Creatives workshop and I somewhat crazily went for a totally different theme. Never, ever again will I do this. It was a complete nightmare logistically, and anyone who has ever delivered a workshop will know that the last thing you feel like doing after a long day teaching is create a whole new 'look' for the next day. Because it was colour psychology, I wanted to go for a creative and inspirational feel, so I was thinking oranges, corals and yellows. Not the easiest of florals to find in autumn but we made it work!
The colour palette almost always translates through to the handouts, which I've always wanted to be as memorable and well crafted as the workshops themselves. For my colour workshop I made the attendees a mini book which was certainly a huge amount of work, but I think they really appreciated it. And it gave me a great insight into just what I'd be doing when I was designing How to Style Your Brand.
That workshop was definitely girlier than I'd do now, but it felt right at the time!
The Flowerona Social for Florists workshop in February was definitely one of my favourite themes. It was too early for spring colours and for a while I was a bit flummoxed. I was totally wiped out from getting the book off to print and I could barely think straight! Then I hit upon the idea of white, green and sparkles and it all went from there. Charcoal grey, sparkly vases and twinkling candles. My newly acquired calligraphy 'skills' and a splash of silver glitter and we were off! The room looked totally magical and really fitted the energy of the month.
We put potted lily of the valley on the tables which looked gorgeous, wrapped in their white paper cloaks and had the added bonus of being able to be planted in the garden after the day.
In March, Rona and I ran two workshops back to back. Colour for Creatives was on the first day and a new workshop, Branding for Florists was the following day. This time the concept was all around an English springtime. I, in particular, had a lot of international guests on that workshop, so it seemed fitting that we embrace all that's wonderful about an English spring. Blossom (aaah, that magnolia), narcissi, muscari and primroses. The room looked just gorgeous! It was also the first time we'd used potted plants on the table instead of fresh flowers and I loved how simple and sweet they looked.
We refreshed the look for the Branding for Florists workshop the following day - making up new posies to pop on the wall (they never last out of water) and also, much to my sadness, removing the narcissi that had wilted overnight. I had a flash of inspiration to pin up the pantone swatches with flowers on which looked just gorgeous, and had me wishing I'd thought of it the day before!
Our next workshops are Social Media for Florists in October and Colour Psychology for Creatives in November. I am LOVING working up concepts for these. Colour for Creatives is going to be quite different to the way I've styled (and delivered) it before and I'm incredibly excited! I can't possibly share until after the workshops but you may well find a few sneak peeks on my instagram feed.
I hope you've enjoyed this insight into my creative process. I'm just bursting with so many ideas I want to share with you, if only there were more hours in the day. I'll be back soon with more...