In her workshop in Odiham, Hampshire, Jay Archer specialises in wedding flowers.
Her joyful, effusive, effervescent design style seems to reflect her positive, passionate personality to such an extent that it is hard to envisage her as the office-bound PA and receptionist she was only five years ago.
“I had always wanted to work for myself,” says Jay, “I just didn’t know doing what! I’ve always been ambitious – or a maverick – depending on who you talk to!”
Jay signed up for a floristry course in her home town of Nuneaton and while the course wasn’t for her, she fell in love with floristry and worked for three years as a florist in the Midlands.
She fell in love, too, with her husband. In classic Jay style, she moved down South on a Friday, met the man of her dreams over the weekend and moved in with him the following week!
A passionate, spontaneous woman!
Jay was still working full time as a PA and receptionist as she built up her flower business, picking flowers and foliages from the abundant garden of her rented home to keep costs down.
And this, suggests Jay, is how she fell in love with the natural look. Yes, that word again – love is a big thing for this wedding florist!
“Go big or go home,” is Jay’s mantra!
She loves to create natural, asymmetrical designs on a grand scale. “I am lucky that clients come to me because they know what I do. I give every bride a mood pack and by the time I finish, they fall in love with what I love”.
Jay brings a big group of brides to the Flower Market every three months. She offers this to every bride, and every customer always takes up the offer. “They are sharing the passion for flowers.”
British flowers are a big part of Jay’s world of flowers. “Because of the number and size of the weddings we do, we can’t only use British, but why wouldn’t you if it’s available,” she asks.
“There is so much choice out there now, a real revival in locally-grown. If you can’t find what you want, you need to tell the growers so that they know to start growing it!” says Jay, who buys from the Flower Market and travels to local growers in Hampshire and Cornwall.
“I’m patriotic too,” Jay explains. “British flowers aren’t perfect, they are much more real. Knowing where they come from is important to me. I visit the farms in Hampshire and Surrey and am making British-grown a core part of my new Flower School, Jay Archer Floral Design Flower School.”
“Foliage is just as important to me as the flowers. They help create a natural aesthetic. The arrangements look as they would grow in the garden.”