Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
Coming up roses
Teb Moema gave up a high flying job in fashion to start a sustainable floristry business in a Yorkshire village. Catherine Scott reports. Main picture by Tony Johnson.
Teb Moema is never happier than when she is tending her allotment in West Yorkshire, or creating her stunning floral displays. But just a few years ago life was very different. Teb had a high flying corporate fashion career travelling the world with some of the most famous fashion houses on the planet. “I was working with all the major brands, travelling a lot, catwalk and branding work, it was really good fun but long hours,” recalls London-born Teb. She worked her way up in the industry and into training and development for brands such as ASOS, Armani, YSL and Estée Lauder.
“It was very competitive and the hours were mad – we’d be doing stock-taking on Christmas Eve and I was living out of a suitcase, but I loved it.”
When her partner’s job brought him to Yorkshire she came with him and took on another corporate role.
Then the pandemic hit. “I was supposed to be going on a work trip to Dubai just before the first lockdown and I just knew it wasn’t the right thing to do,” she explains. “I was worried that we might get stuck there but all my colleagues were up for it and were pushing me to go. It was a really big moment for me – it made me realise that it wasn’t what I wanted any more.”
After moving to Slaithwaite in the Colne Valley, Teb got a little allotment where she grew flowers.
“I suddenly realised that I was far happier and content tending my allotment and arranging flowers than I was in a big corporate job. The lockdown happened and all my team was furloughed other than me and I was working full time and I realised it was my chance to do something I really loved.”
Then when her father fell ill and died during the pandemic it turned Teb’s world on its head and made her reevaluate what she was doing with her life. “When my father passed away in 2020, I found it comforting having a creative release via arranging flowers,” explains Teb.
“I found this a real escape and therapeutic at a difficult time in my life. I found such solace and comfort creating floral installations and designs. That feeling was one I never wanted to let go of, and so in his name Moema Floral Design was born, in memory of my dad’s family name.“
Moema Floral Design offers wedding flowers, but she also uses her training background to her advantage and hosts flower crown and wreath workshops and corporate events. Recently joining luxury business members’ club Empire House in Slaithwaite, she will be hosting many events from her new base.
The flower industry is changing and Teb is passionate about doing her bit by practicing sustainable seasonal floristry and passing on her knowledge to others. Where possible she chooses locally grown, not flown, stems and foam free designs.
Teb understands the importance of sustainability and has grown her own allotment of flowers, where she goes every week.
By 2022 her goal is to be able to grow all of her own filler flowers, making her business as environmentally friendly as possible.
She also wants to help establish the UK as having some of the best flowers and designers in the world.
Her corporate training background has allowed her to share her passion for flowers through oneto-one bespoke tutorials and her soon to launch Floral Academy.
Teb says that Yorkshire is one of the best places in the country for flower farms. “I set up my floristry business in the height of lockdown which was a real risk for me, but the investment and passion has paid off and I grew 95 per cent of my business through Instagram.
“After leaving my home in London in my midthirties, I settled down in a nature-filled village in West Yorkshire with my partner. The pace of life is so much calmer and after spending years rushing around the rat race of the city, I started doing more of what I love.”
Teb says as with the fashion industry, floristry has had a bad reputation for sustainability.
“I was lucky enough to work with fashion brands
that took sustainability really seriously,” she says. “That has really rubbed off on me when it comes to flowers and I really feel passionately about passing that on not just to others in the industry but to customers.”
In particular, she is trying to encourage florists not to use floral foam in their arrangements as it is very bad for the environment.
“There are other ways such as using florists’ wire which really doesn’t cost a lot more. It is all about education.”
She says she really wants customers to understand about flowers and seasonality. She dries a lot of her own flowers, and uses paints and dyes to create more colour.
“We are so used to having what we want when we want it. I try to encourage people, particularly brides getting married in the winter, not to have 100 per cent petal flowers and to maybe just have one type of petal flower and then use other seasonal things such as seed heads, berries an heathers and I find that most people these days are really keen to do their bit for the environment. I even use some foraged foliage in my designs.’’
Teb says it is also about being flexible. “This year tulips were early and I recently still had sweet peas in my allotment which is really late – it’s about having customers understand that you can still have a beautiful wedding and be kind to the planet. It’s all about education.”
She likes to advise people on the best use of floral designs in their homes and how to make her creations last as long as possible.
She also runs wreath-making workshops in the run-up to Christmas using seasonally available foliage.
Teb draws on her work in training and development in the fashion industry to help her and says it has also helped her make sure her business is viable.
“I am used to being independent and having my own money and I am determined that my business has to be viable. I have never come across another black florist up here either.”
With the current crisis in the haulage industry it is likely that imported blooms will become harder to get and more expensive. Something Teb says she is already seeing.
“Sadly, I have had to put up my minimum spend,” she says. “People often ask me if I miss the corporate life, but I still get that exciting buzz via installations that I do, where I still get to plan, design and budget and seeing the finished product makes me so proud. But I do not miss the rat race one little bit. I would far rather be on my allotment in Yorkshire.”