From florist to a Masters in Fine Art and back again is the story of one London’s hottest young talents, Hattie Fox. At the age of just 16, Hattie headed to London leaving behind small-town life in the Welsh Borders.
She got herself a job as a Saturday girl at Harper & Tom’s in Notting Hill and two weeks later was working there full-time.
In the following years, Hattie Fox studied first for a degree in Fine Art at Camberwell and then a Masters at Chelsea but, graduating in the recession, found there were not many job openings for a fine art student. The creative world of floristry beckoned once more.
“I started by doing the flowers for weddings in a house I shared in Holloway, but annoyed my flat-mates! So in 2011, I moved into a tiny studio in the arty East End, where I could barely afford the rent. The Americans from Ace knocked on the door and invited me to open a shop in a new hotel they were opening.”
The new hotel was the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. “I had been offered lots of spaces before, but they kept falling through. I knew that this was a chance that may not come knocking again.”
The business of That Flower Shop quickly became “more serious”, supplying flowers to restaurants and running a botanical workshop and a flower shop, such that Hattie now has a team of nine full-time staff and a team of freelancers on call.
“People know who we are now and we pride ourselves on creativity. One afternoon the phone started ringing and didn’t stop.”
“My granddad was a farmer and my dad is one,” says Hattie. “I have a very strong feeling about people who grow things. It’s good to give something back to the industry.
From April to October 80% of our flowers and foliage are British, and during British Flowers Week we’ll be using 100% British-grown.”
“British flowers are very out of control!” enthuses Hattie. “There are never two flowers the same. Imports are too perfect; they’re nice but it is freeing to have British. Locally-grown are so much more accessible now. I buy from Pratleys and Zest, The Flower Union in Oxford and a flower farmer in Malvern.” And, of course, indulges her passion for foliage at GB Foliage.
“It feels logical to say ‘you might not be able to get this’ like you cannot get British strawberries in January!” Hattie says of the seasonal nature of British flowers. “And you think to yourself: Why can we not do this all year round?”
Working the Flower Market
Hattie’s first venture into the New Covent Garden Flower Market was with the owners of Harper & Tom seven years ago at the age of seventeen. When the owners went on holiday, it was down to Hattie to buy stock for the business. “Buying for someone else is not the same. I would buy what the shop needed, then sneak in a few things that you’re not allowed! It’s much more fun when you’re buying for yourself.”
What would Hattie’s advice be to a Flower Market newcomer? “Just be polite. People can be demanding. Wholesalers are doing an important job. You need to respect their time.”
“I have great relationships with my wholesalers. It takes a while to know who your strong relationships are going to be with."