Florist Hazel Gardiner delights in health, family and friends - and f lowers
hazel Gardiner is not averse to taking risks. She left a job in TV to start a vintage clothing brand, but three years ago realised her true calling lay in floristry and made another leap of faith. She set up her business after training at world-renowned florist Mcqueens and has since worked across the worlds of art, fashion and design, creating fabulous displays for weddings, events and brands such as Eve Lom and Channel 4. Hazel lives with her husband Andrew and their goldendoodle Ringo in Stoke Newington, north London.
Sum up your business in five words…
Unexpected, vibrant, inclusive, seasonal, adventurous.
What was your light-bulb moment?
Sitting in my car about to start a 300-mile buying trip for my vintage clothing business and dreading it. Ordinarily, sourcing was a highlight but I had been increasingly drawn to the outdoors after a cancer diagnosis in my twenties. It came at the same time as buying my first flat and tending to my small urban plot became my mental and physical saviour. I had created a false narrative that working with flowers was just a dream. It was my husband who said, ‘if you want to work with f lowers, work with f lowers’. It was so simple; I retrained and never looked back
What’s the greatest sacrifice you’ve made for work?
I structured my f loristry business around not making too many sacrifices. With my first business, I pushed myself and eventually hit a wall. W hen you’re facing the unspeakable it becomes crystal clear that health, friends and family are the most important thing and it scared me how I had forgotten this. My aim is to stay healthy, fulfilled and to continue to grow my company without sacrificing time with those I love.
The biggest risk you’ve taken in business?
Starting it! I felt secretly overwhelmed with imposter syndrome. Although I trained and had transferable skills and experience, I had to dig deep to believe in myself. This was a big shift for me.
What’s your proudest achievement so far?
I’ve worked with incredible brands and creatives. My work has been in Liberty and Space NK, but teaching is the most rewarding for me. I’m working with Victoria Azubuike, founder of Us Programme, which helps educate and inspire young women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Who do you turn to for advice?
My husband Andrew, who works in the media. He’s my unofficial business strategist. And my brother-in-law owns homeware company Stuart Gardiner Design along with his wife Sam. I often turn to them too.
Who inspires you?
Broadcaster Afua Hirsch, artist Ronan Mckenzie and Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter.
Who are your favourite florists?
I try not to spend time looking at other florists’ work to stop the dreaded comparison and keep ideas unique. I’m in awe of Los Angelesbased Maurice Harris, owner of Bloom and Plume. His identity as a gay black man is rooted in his work. His compositions are jaw-dropping and his humour infectious.
What is your biggest extravagance?
Skincare and holidays. I’m a beauty product fan and love finding new, ethical brands; and getting away is vital for recuperation. As a student, I saved up for one night’s stay in Chateau Marmont in LA between hostels.
Name three stores you couldn’t live without…
Paks on Stroud Green Road for the best range of black hair and beauty products. I also love Clockhouse plant nursery in Enfield. Also The Little Wine Shop in Stoke Newington.
What is the last thing you bought for your home?
I love Portuguese ceramics and bought some chic white cabbage bowls by Bordallo Pinheiro from Know & Love.
Which is your favourite flower and why?
Delphinium Blue Lace – a double variety in hints of pastel blue and mauve. I love flowers that have height and grandeur.
Share an easy floral styling trick...
Unsure how to select flowers for a vase? Buy your stems in the same colour but in three different varieties. This will create interesting depth and texture without worrying about colour combinations.
What floral displays do you plan to have for Christmas?
This year I want to use more dried flowers and I’m hatching a plan for a willow vine garland.
What life advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Don’t worry so much. There is nothing useful in dissecting the past or trying to predict the future. Trust your instinct and silence that inner critic.
Although I had transferable skills and experience, I had to dig deep to believe in myself. This was a big shift for me