Meet the maker

WEL­COME TO THE FLOWER-FILLED WORLD OF TERRI CHAN­DLER AND KATIE SMYTH, WHO DITCHED THEIR CA­REERS IN FAVOUR OF IN­DE­PEN­DENCE

Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: HOLLY JOHN­SON Pho­tographs: IN­GRID RAS­MUSSEN

Get to know florist duo Worm Lon­don

Grow­ing up sep­a­rately in South­ern Ire­land, Terri and Katie spent their days read­ing books and play­ing in grassy mead­ows sur­rounded by a wild and nat­u­ral land­scape that left a last­ing im­pres­sion. Fast for­ward a few decades and Terri was work­ing as an ac­tress in Lon­don, hav­ing moved to the UK sev­eral years ear­lier, while stylist Katie was new to the city and look­ing for a chal­lenge. After meet­ing through a mu­tual friend and de­cid­ing they’d love to work for them­selves, the pair took the brave move to quit their jobs and re­train as florists.

A unique pair­ing of lit­er­a­ture and floristry, their com­pany Worm is a flower stu­dio with a di er­ence. Tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the “im­per­fect” flow­ers of their child­hood, Terri and Katie have a style that beams with per­son­al­ity. Since set­ting up, they’ve grown a huge fol­low­ing on In­sta­gram, count Burberry, M&S and Harper’s Bazaar among their clients, and have even re­leased their own book, Wreaths: Fresh, For­aged & Dried Flo­ral Ar­range­ments. We met them at their city stu­dio to talk team­work, hoard­ing, and their love of wonky flow­ers. Where did it all be­gin? K&T: We were work­ing in other in­dus­tries and although they were creative, we weren’t feel­ing ful­filled. We were head­ing into our thir­ties and re­al­is­ing that, as women, when we started to have chil­dren we wouldn’t have sta­bil­ity in the jobs we were in. We wanted to be able to do both, and thought if we were ever go­ing to do it, it had to be then. How did you learn floristry? Katie: We got places on a ba­sic floristry course to see if we were any good. It wasn’t ex­pen­sive – just one day a week for a few months, learn­ing the ba­sics. We went to the flower mar­ket once a week to pick

flow­ers for the class and loved it straight away. We’d look for­ward to it so much, and that’s re­ally when Worm was born.

What do you love most about what you do? Terri: We love how ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent. We get to bring creative ideas to the ta­ble con­stantly, and the sense of pride we feel when we see the con­cept come to life is what we were miss­ing so much in what we were do­ing be­fore.

Have you faced any chal­lenges with the busi­ness? K&T: Set­ting up a busi­ness is so dif­fi­cult. The hours, the lack of life around the busi­ness, wear­ing all of the hats… We’re two and a half years in and can hon­estly say it’s com­pletely con­sumed us for two years. We’re start­ing to reap the re­wards now – ac­tu­ally be­ing able to choose to have a few days o! ev­ery now and then and start­ing to see friends again. It’s com­pletely worth it though – it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.

De­scribe your brand’s aes­thetic. K&T: We’re drawn to the type of wild, im­per­fect flow­ers we both grew up with on the South­ern coast of Ire­land. We love any flower that has a bit of char­ac­ter to it – like a funny-shaped face or a wonky stem. They have their own per­son­al­i­ties to us. The voice of the brand is very much us and we don’t re­ally hide be­hind any heavy brand­ing. The two of us de­sign ev­ery­thing and make all the choices and that’s how we like it for now. We use free­lancers at big events but one of us heads up ev­ery sin­gle thing we do.

Is your creative space im­por­tant to you? K&T: We adore our cur­rent space. It’s the fourth stu­dio we’ve had and the first that ac­tu­ally works as a flower stu­dio. It’s a church hall in Clap­ton – the church kindly rented it to us as it wasn’t in use. For us, the essen­tials are a big sink, load­ing doors and a floor that can take spillages – our first stu­dio had car­pet! So this ticks all the boxes. It’s to­tally iso­lated so we can lis­ten to mu­sic as loud as we want when we’re work­ing. It has a re­ally good en­ergy and we love be­ing there.

Do you work well to­gether? Katie: Ah, we love work­ing to­gether. We’re very sim­i­lar, but then com­pletely dif­fer­ent in other ways. Terri loves or­gan­i­sa­tion and her favourite thing is la­belling things in our stu­dio so ev­ery­thing has a home. She writes lots of lists and is al­ways think­ing ahead. "I’m def­i­nitely the messy one! We’re both nat­u­rally hoard­ers which is good – it’d be dif­fi­cult if one of us pre­ferred work­ing in a per­fect white cube. We also have a strong un­der­stand­ing of each other and a mu­tual re­spect. This means we don’t re­ally ar­gue about things, we just say how we feel and lis­ten to one an­other."

Work­ing as a pair has also given us more con­fi­dence – it’s nice to be able to work on ideas with some­one else. We try to struc­ture Worm so if ei­ther of us want to do some­thing or go some­where they

“We love any flower that has a bit of char­ac­ter to it – like a funny-shaped face or a wonky stem.”

can. We want it to be as en­joy­able and flex­i­ble for us as it can be. How do you want your flow­ers to make peo­ple feel? K&T: We’re so overly crit­i­cal of our work at times, so when we hand them over and see the joy they bring, we’re re­minded they do the work them­selves. Flow­ers have a way of mak­ing peo­ple feel good. They’re nos­tal­gic and seem to bring happy mem­o­ries to peo­ple – most peo­ple know the favourite flower of some­one they love. They’re con­nected to so many of our senses, and that’s what makes them so won­der­ful to work with. Is there one favourite project you’ve worked on? K&T: It’s hard to choose. On Mother’s Day this year we were ap­proached by an agency called Mother, who wanted to spot­light a char­ity called Ma­ter­nity Ac­tion. They’d found that 54,000 women were un­fairly forced to leave their jobs ev­ery year in the UK due to preg­nancy dis­crim­i­na­tion.

We used 54,000 white car­na­tions – the orig­i­nal Mother’s Day flower – to cre­ate a huge, three-me­tre-round ball out­side City Hall in Lon­don to draw at­ten­tion to it. It was such a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, and felt like flow­ers were some­thing big­ger than flow­ers that day. The next day the left­over car­na­tions were made into bou­quets and sent to the politi­cians who sit in par­lia­ment with the re­search, in the hope they might bring about change. Have you set your­self any creative goals? K&T: We make small goals for our­selves all the time. We don’t set big, un­achiev­able goals – just ones that make us feel good when we’ve ac­com­plished them. At the mo­ment we’re try­ing to be more sus­tain­able. It’s hard in this in­dus­try and there’s a lot of waste, so we’re try­ing to be creative in ad­dress­ing it. What creative ad­vice would you have given your younger selves? K&T: We both agree that all the jobs we did on the way to get­ting here – and there were a lot – added some­thing to where we are now. Say­ing that, if your work is mak­ing you un­happy, do all you can to change that. Hard work and self-be­lief pays o .

“We used 54,000 white car­na­tions to cre­ate a huge, three-me­tre-round ball out­side City Hall.”

01 Katie con­di­tions a bridal bou­quet be­fore pre­serv­ing it in wa­ter ready for its big day. 02 The girls pick f low­ers with per­son­al­ity, giv­ing their brand a unique iden­tity. 03 In their first book, Wreaths, Terri and Katie share their skill for colour and tex­ture. 04 The old church hall’s soar­ing ceil­ings are ideal for dry­ing bou­quets. 05 Stem jars of dahlias, rose­hips and lisianthus, all sourced from the lo­cal mar­ket.

04 05

03

01 Soft gar­den roses com­bined with jas­mine, olives and astilbe cre­ate a more clas­sic wed­ding look. 01

02 Terri is the “nat­u­ral or­gan­iser” and takes a more metic­u­lous ap­proach to f lower ar­rang­ing. 02

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