Chelsea Award Winning Florist Ciara Quigley speaks to us about her amazing experience at the Chelsea Flower Show.
You can gather from this interview how fun and exciting a florist Ciara is. Ciara is renowned within the industry for her wedding work and her event decoration.
Thank you Ciara for your answering our questions so freely
What is your name? Ciara Quigley
What is the Name of your business? The Flower Boutique, Killiney
What is your Website link? www.theflowerboutique.ie
How and when did you start your business? I started my business down a laneway in Dun Laoghaire, at the time I had intended to become a corporate event and wedding florist and use my premises as a studio however the recession got in the way of those plans, the Corporate market dried up but my wedding business did ok and I managed to start building a small retail business. The opportunity to take over a larger premises in Killiney came about 3 years ago so I moved my retails and wedding business to there, where thankfully it has grown from strength to strength.
Why did you become a florist? I’ve always had a passion for flowers, as a child I would pick wild flowers and arrange them in little vases, it was my favourite thing to do! I still have my very first flower arranging magazine from 1981!!
How long have you been in the industry? Officially 13 years, however I got my first job as a florist when I was only 13...dont think employers would get away with that these days!
How do you create your style and where do you draw your inspiration? To be honest Im a bit of an earth Mama! I draw most of my inspiration from the natural world around me. I love the way flowers arrange themselves beautifully in the wild! The skirt of my dress was made from very common Cupressus which grows everywhere I love the way it drapes and could picture it making a very nice ball gown!
Has competing at Chelsea always being a aspiration? Absolutely it’s always been a dream from the moment I started professional floristry. For those who didn’t really know what I meant to win the silver I described it as like an Athlete winning silver in the Olympics, I think that is the closest comparison I can make to what it felt like!
How did you decide on your final design piece? Where did you draw your inspiration from? The brief was to create a floral fantasy dress to be worn to a Chrystal theme ball, so I imagine Cinderella, but I wanted her to be a bit edgier so I also looked at her wicked step mum so that is where I decided the style of the dress, it was sort of a mix between the two!
What was the build up like, was travelling to Chelsea nerve wrecking in case you left something behind? The build up was tough I have to be honest, we estimated that I spend about 200 hours working on the piece (Heidi Sparkles is her name!!) altogether. We were also given exact measurements for the dummy that the dress was to be displayed on and my biggest worry was getting the measurements wrong...imagine all that work and then the bloomin’ thing didn’t even fit I would have died!
Did you forget anything? Nope!!! Most people dont realise it because Im I seem like a scatter brain but I am pretty organised!! I’m also pretty good at improvising and thinking on my feet so if I had forgotten anything I would have thought of a way to cover it up J
Who did you bring to help you? My long suffering husband Leo!
Where did you stay in Chelsea? Travel Lodge Battersea, it was cheap and cheerful and very nearby, when it was all over we could walk to Chelsea from the hotel and enjoy a few Pimms!!
Describe the day of the competition, was it very competitive? No not really, there was great camaraderie between all the competitors I actually had a great laugh with some of them and will hopefully stay in touch for a long time
Were people helpful friendly, did you bring your own flowers with you? Yeah everyone was brilliant and very helpful. Yes you have to bring all your own flowers and equipment with you.
Was the room refrigerated? No!!! It was staged in the corner of the Chelsea Flower Show pavilion, really just the corner of a very large tent, thankfully it wasn’t too hot.
What tool in your toolbox can’t you live without? Eeek that’s a tough one can I choose more than 1?? I suppose my scissors but my toolbox will always contain emergency tools..my knife, scissors, secateurs, wire, reel wire, wire cutters, cable tie, glue, ribbon, gutta and pot tape, I never go on a job without all those bits, with those you can pretty much do anything!
How did it feel to be awarded a Chelsea Silver Medal? Shocked! Honestly that’s all I can say was completely shocked. Before I left my Mum and a few friend came to see the dress they were so impressed that my Mum honestly thought I would be crowned queen of Chelsea!!! When I got there and set up my design I was nearly crying when I left, I rang my mum and had to hold back the tears explaining to her that the standard was so high and all the other dresses were so amazing that I hadn’t a hope of getting anywhere. I was disappointed but honoured to even be in the same category as these amazing florists. So when I got the medal I couldn’t believe it, Leo says there was just a look of sheer shock and confusion on my face as I just stared at it for ages!!
Do you offer any services in addition to floral designs at your shop? Well not really!! We sell flowers, plants and gifts I also do a lot of wedding and corporate event work but that’s about it, which is enough for me right now!
What is your favourite flower? It’s hard to say my favorite flowers changes seasonally. I suppose if I was to have a top 3 it would be Phalanopsis, Vanda and Freesia!!
What one word best describes your personality? Mad
Do you have anything you would like to add? Thanks you for asking me all these questions it’s been fun!!