The florist to the stars inspired by her Lancastrian roots
PUBLISHED: 23:33 03 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:05 20 February 2013
Vic Brotherson may be one of London's top florists with a celebrity fan base, but it's her Lancastrian roots that inspire her, writes Francesca Clayton
Rated by a national broadsheet as one of the top ten florists in the country, and with her own specialist flower shop in its 5th successful year, Vic Brotherson could be forgiven for letting success go to her head. However, as her new book Vintage Flowers hits the shelves, the Lancastrian is determined not to forget where she came from.
Born in Blackpool, Vic grew up in Bolton and the Lakes before going to Oxford University to study fine art. After graduating, she spent 15 years in a flower shop before opening up her own, Scarlet and Violet. But she has never forgotten the landscape of her childhood.
My Mum loved the garden and we were all dragged out to walk the hills and around lakes every weekend so I think working with flowers felt like the closest thing to home when in I moved to London. My favourite flowers will always be those that remind me of home - foxgloves, ferns, heather and wild seasonal foliage, cherry, magnolia and even ivy.
It is easy to see the influence of the Lancashire countryside in Vics work. Her signature style is vintage-inspired creations that are evocative of an English country garden; rejecting what she terms brash, tortured arrangements of imported flowers in favour of seasonal blooms that look as if they have just Claytonbeen picked and placed in the nearest, quirkiest container.
As well as inspiring her creative tastes, Vics childhood has also instilled in her a work ethic which is perhaps the secret behind her successful business, which has seen her provide flowers for top notch London weddings and table displays for the rich and famous. Nigella Lawson is one of her many fans.
My parents ensured that my sisters and I had an understanding that hard work was the way forward. We all had weekend jobs from an early age and pocket money had to be earned.
When I set up Scarlet and Violet I thought it would be me, a van and a few dedicated clients rather than a fleet of vans, a team of staff and a never empty email inbox, so I try really hard not to whinge about being tired or busy as I am well aware of how fickle the business is and how we must continue to work hard or it can all be lost in an instant.
The shop opened in 2006 and I couldnt have timed it worse regarding economic climate.
It has been unpredictable and frightening but even though for long periods we seem to be treading water, we occasionally reach the other side and I hope that I will never take what we have for granted.
With the launch of her book - a vibrant, eclectic mixture of beautiful photographs and helpful advice for amateur florists - Vics star is firmly in the ascendence. However, she is making sure she keeps her Lancastrian feet firmly on the ground.
The girls at the shop and my sisters make sure that I dont ever forget what we do and ultimately all we do is make beautiful things that give relatively fleeting happiness and aesthetic pleasure. But if we do this alongside a regard for the people we work with and a regard for the environment we work within,
I think we can keep going for a while yet.
Vintage Flowers by Vic Brotherson is published by Kyle Books, priced 25.
Photography: Catherine Gratwicke