Kelly Perry - 00:01 - You were listening to the Team Flower podcast where we talk about flowers and celebrate the people who've dedicated their lives to sharing them with the world. We believe that your work with flowers matters in rooting you on. Hi, my name is Kelly, and today we're talking with Rona Wheeldon the mastermind behind Flowerona. Rona's blog is full of inspiration and resources for anyone who loves flowers. Rhonda's also a freelance writer for the new Covenant Garden Flower Market in London. Be sure to follow Rona on Instagram, at Flowerona, infloralthespotlight and underthefloralspell and visit Flowerona.com to read the blog. This podcast is brought to you by Team Flower an online community dedicated to educating, connecting, and empowering flower levers worldwide. You provide online classes, in person events, and free weekly resources like this podcast designed to support you in your journey with flowers. Whether you're a professional florists, flower farmer, or just love flowers there, space for you here, come join the party at Team Flower. In this episode we're talking about Rhona's journey with flowers and how the Flowerona brand was birthed. Rona is sharing how she stays up to date with the floral industry is ever changing trends and we're chatting about the Chelsea flower show and British flowers week. We're discussing the importance of our suppliers as running. Get this behind the scenes. Look at the new Covenant Garden Flower Market. Also taking an in depth look around Rona's various instagram accounts and sharing a few tips. I'm curious for accounts. It's all right here on the Team Flower podcast.
Kelly Perry - 01:36 - Welcome to the podcast. So wonderful to have you here today.
Rona Wheeldon - 01:40 - Thank you so much for asking me to take part, Kelly.
Kelly Perry - 01:43 - Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'm very excited to talk with you. We, we met very briefly last spring whenever I was on a visit to England. I love you have so many gardens per, per, um, space like here in America, I would have to drive for miles and miles and miles to see as many flowers as I can. I'm in England in a very short period of time, so I really love to come over. Um, I've tried. I, my goal is to come over kind of every other year just to see all the different things that are going on and to be a part of that. And so it was fun just to see you for a minute on my last visit whenever I was there and um, it's great to talk with you for a little bit more today and to introduce you to the Team Flower folks and I'm sure many of them.
Kelly Perry - 02:37 - It's a reuniting. They're so well known if and have been doing a lot of things for support for floors for many years now that we really appreciate and admire. So excited to share your work with everyone today. Thank you so much. That's really kind of you to say. Thank you. Yeah. Well, before, before you started working in flowers, you, your background is in training and customer service and those types of things. Tell us a little bit about the beginnings were always really interested in, um, you know, a lot of people who are starting of floral business. It's so encouraging to hear just beginnings of things. And so we would love for you just to share a little bit about your heart behind what you do and how it all came to be.
Rona Wheeldon - 03:26 - Well, um, it's the tale of lots of twists and turns not so when I was growing up, I grew up in a tiny little farm in the middle of nowhere down in Devon and my dad, I remember used to grow an enemies in our garden because he knew that my mother left and enemies. And one of my earliest memories is the first time I saw them play, which was really exciting. And funnily enough, I've managed to plants and last year in my garden and they've only just come up today, which is really exciting. Yeah, it's just very good timing. Um, so I've always loved flowers. Um, but I never ever considered to work in the industry when I was younger. Whenever we went abroad, I've always go and take photographs of flower shops outside. I used to buy lots of clothes and flowers on them. Um, and I always, when I could buy flowers just to have in the house, but I went into something completely different.
Rona Wheeldon - 04:30 - I had a corporate job, I worked for the FT and then next, next is better as todd illegal publisher and I'll try and cut this very short, um, short as I can. Um, so back in 2002. I got it married and my husband and I went on honeymoon to the wonderful Caribbean, but unfortunately I became ld was the end of that anymore unfortunately. Um, and it was, that was really the trigger because it took several doctors and lots of alternative health therapists about two years to work out what was wrong with me. I was really unwell with dizziness and it was eventually diagnosed as an inner ear issue. Oh. So I remember I was having medications for it and I was walking to work to the station with my husband actually one day and it was really cold and the wind was biting and there were tears coming down my face. And he went, oh, you're really not very happy, are you? And I said, well actually I'm not crying. These are just tears from the cold. And he said, but yeah, but you've really not happy. And I said, no, I'm not. And he said, well, what do you love? And I don't know where the word came from, but suddenly I just said flowers and he, well, will
Rona Wheeldon - 05:58 - you please do something about it? Life's too short. And I was like, okay. So that lunch time I went on the Internet and I thought, right, maybe I can do anything in class. So I signed up for an evening class or their college in London and once a week for a year I went in and studied flowers and I also got a job in a local flower shop on a Saturday and what free just to get some experience, which I absolutely adored. Um, and then I went part time and my job in the city and studied and national certificate in forestry. So I worked three days in the office, one day in the florist shop. And one day I went to college and did that for a year. And then I was so lucky I was made redundant.
Rona Wheeldon - 06:49 - And my sales director at the time says, well, I'm not going to send you on a CV course, but how about a four day career course with Paula Pryke and London? And I was blown away and it was amazing, really amazing. Um, that was back in 2006. Um, and cut a very long story short. I then ended up working with polar for about 18 months, which was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I was working in the office and I also worked in selfridges concession there. I worked in Brompton Cross and I worked in liberty. Um, I helped out the flower school and um, yeah, it's really, really, really amazing the insights into the industry and go to the flower market and the flower school and the books that she writes. Um, but I was commuting three hours a day from one side of London to the other and I decided that it was just too much, um, and thought about setting up my own flourishing business.
Rona Wheeldon - 07:51 - But it was the end of 2008. And back in those days the recession was happening. So I really was being annoying for a long time, um, but I knew I didn't want to go back to the corporate world, so I set up my own businesses, a virtual pa and that was really successful at it for a couple of years, but I still wasn't happy. So I went to see a business coach who was also an astrologist. Funnily enough, she told me she would move board and you can just guess are some of the mood board. Yeah, lots of flowers. And um,
Rona Wheeldon - 08:29 - shortly after I'd seen her, that mood board sat on my desk quite a few weeks and I had a light bulb moment, one Friday afternoon, August 2010. And I've been blogging for my clients as a virtual pa and I loved flowers and I thought, well, why do I put them both together? Right? Because when I was in my corporate jobs and studying forestry back then, this is 2016, 2008. There was hardly anything on the Internet about the floristry industry. And I saw that the, you know, I wanted the information. So I thought, well, I'm sure what other people want that kind of information as well. So collaborative started in December 2010 and I ran it in conjunction with my virtual PA business or about year and a half, realized where my passion lay and sold my virtual PA business. And now my whole life is slow. Rona
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Kelly Perry - 10:39 - So you have the blog, you have some wonderful videos that come out. I was just watching the one where you share about the different kinds of ridiculous and the one where you are touring the market, the new covenant market and um, it was so fun to go behind the scenes with the market and just to see what it looks like and all of the excitement that's happening there. Tell us a little bit more about the market and um, just your role there and what, what goes on every day. We'd love to know,
Rona Wheeldon - 11:19 - okay, so flower owners in a launch pad for lots of different aspects of my job that I currently do. And um, five years ago I was approached by the people who do the marketing for the market, a new covent garden flower market, and they asked me if I would like to work freelance for them, um, so twice a month for the last five years I've gone into the flower market and with my camera and taking photographs and spoken to the traders and I write two reports for them every month.
Rona Wheeldon - 11:52 - One is a general, these are the flowers, foliage plants and sundries available this month and the other one is the report focusing on a particular type of flower or particular type of plant to, to help florists, um, learn more and see what's available at new covent garden. And it's one of the highlights of one month. I have so much fun going there. And the guys, there's very rare that I come away from one of my visits without having had lots of laughter. They have, they're just incredible that they hardly have any sleep, but they have just got such lovely banter. It just brilliant.
Kelly Perry - 12:34 - It's amazing, isn't it? Our suppliers are miracle workers really. So fortunate to have, um, to have them. They do such a good job. Hmm.
Rona Wheeldon - 12:44 - And it's so great going into the market and say, every time I go there I see something new and also bumping into other florists and um, you know, just catching up with them and seeing what they're up to. So yeah. Yeah. I really love going to the market. There's always something new to see.
Kelly Perry - 13:02 - Yeah. Do you, I think I may have read that you live in the Surrey area, which is just just below London. Um, that's right. The Ah, very good, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful place. That's the very first time that I came. I just spent the whole time I'm learning to drive on the other side of the road, which was really exciting for me. Um, and just driving to all of the gardens in Surrey, whenever you travel up to London for the day to do one of these types of trips, is there a kind of an unrelated question, but is, is there a favorite place that you go for lunch or if somebody was just going to be in London for the day and they wanted to see the market, what might be something else that's sort of around her in that area or maybe an event that, that takes place in London as well that you would love for somebody who loves flowers to see and experience?
Rona Wheeldon - 13:58 - Um, was. There are so many places you could go to kew gardens and wider the pop into the flower shop run by Azita Elsa, which is absolutely beautiful. You could go to Petersham, nurseries, which is quite near that in Richmond area and that's a beautiful, really beautiful. Um, yeah, if you wanted to, you could, if you're there on a Sunday, you could go to Columbia road, flower market and that's open to the public. Um, yeah, those are some ideas that might be
Kelly Perry - 14:34 - very good. Yeah. I have a couple of those places on my wishlist for next time, so it's good to know from the pro that I'm headed in the right direction. Tell us a little bit, tell us a little bit about Chelsea that's coming up. I'm coming up pretty soon and draws, um, so just many, many, many people and it has been going on. It has such a history. Um, I have a little book, a little book about the history of the show, but have only been through the first couple of pages. I'm just tell us a little bit about what that's like and just anything that you might want to share about the show.
Rona Wheeldon - 15:09 - Okay. So I have just found out recently I'm very fortunate to have received press accreditation to go on Presto, which is the Monday and then the tooth. Very exciting. Yeah, very exciting. And it's another highlight of my year. I wasn't able to go last year, but I have been for the last three, four years before that and I just love showcasing the florists who are at the show. So whether that's the floristry competitions, which is run, which are run by the BFA or there's the floral art, and then also what they've done recently is us flores to create floral installations. And the year before last they were amazing installations by floor starkey and Shane Connelly of the gates. So that's mostly plants, um, that they decorate the gates were, which is absolutely beautiful.
Kelly Perry - 16:05 - Yeah, I can speak to it being really incredible, the entrance and I'm just, even what I love so much about it is that everybody's wearing their flower apparel and so you can see blocks away from the show that you're headed in the right direction because everybody as they're beautiful flower dresses on and you know, tops and shoes and bags and all those kinds of things. And so, you know, just follow all the people wearing all of the flower clothes and like, you will make it fair.
Rona Wheeldon - 16:36 - I know that time is um, Chelsea and bloom, which is where retailers in the area decorate the shop and that's where flowers are involved as well. So there's a competition and um, yeah, that for me it's another highlight of Chelsea week seeing the creations may buy the flowers for Chelsea and blue.
Kelly Perry - 17:00 - Very, very fun. Rona, you had mentioned earlier that you really loved wearing, you know, you found yourself always wearing clothes that had flowers on them. Is there a favorite place that you buy your flower? Close?
Rona Wheeldon - 17:15 - There isn't one favorite place. There are lots of different ways. To be honest now I don't wear as many as I used to.
Kelly Perry - 17:15 - Oh, that's funny.
Rona Wheeldon - 17:24 - Yeah, it is funny. I think I'm just very conscious that I, yeah, I just don't, unless it's like a special occasion when I'm wearing a dress and sure baby I've been lucky enough to borrow address, dress from somebody from a retailer and so it makes sense to me to try and borrow something that's floor or to have more of a connection for when I feature on social media. So I don't go to that many events and most of my time I'm, I would say 95 percent of the time I'm in my office. Um, it might appear that I'm always out and about. But yeah, a lot. Most of my work has sat at my desk.
Kelly Perry - 18:06 - Yeah. Yeah, fine. That's good as to. Yeah, still, that's, that's the rating content, you know, that's, that's what that looks like a little bit. Well, speaking of writing, tell us a little bit about some of your favorite topics to write about. If somebody who's listening has never been to the Florida have blog before, what might they expect to find there? So
Rona Wheeldon - 18:32 - in the past I've had lots of interviews with florists and exactly as you were saying about the whole story of how people get into the industry and what I think it's really exciting at the moment is the number of career changes that the wrong. So people who, you know, suddenly decided in the thirties or forties or older than that, you know, um, there's more to life and I really want to do something with flowers. And so it's lovely to see the journeys that people have made. And I also love featuring workshops. Flores have run, especially if they've had a professional photographer take the photographs. And so yeah, I just love showing behind the scenes at workshops so that flowers can be inspired and see what they too can learn and different flowers. Three styles, that's that mean when I first started flower owner back in 2010 when I think back to the floor or styles that were back then, it's really exciting. However, the last few years there's been a big trend for this relax sort of meadow crest that over here and over in the states as well. And British flowers are perfect for that home grown flowers and it's really exciting also to see how so many florists are considering and actually now growing flowers themselves because they want to create that look. Um, and there's also lots of flower farmers here in the UK, so people who are setting up to grow flowers just for either local people or for florists.
Kelly Perry - 20:10 - I love looking at trend coming back.
Rona Wheeldon - 20:12 - Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it's, it's fair to buy the trend I think because people want the more natural look
Rona Wheeldon - 20:22 - So you've got that in the states as well, haven't you?
Kelly Perry - 20:25 - Yeah, yeah, we absolutely do. Um, I believe, I'm not sure of the month is that it is, but there's a British flower week. Yes. Tell us a little bit about that.
Rona Wheeldon - 20:37 - Yes. So that's taking place in June from June the 18th to the 24th and it's organized by new covent garden flower market and they've recently announced that there's a special competition this year and the sixth floors are being asked to create through all installations and there'll be in situ in the garden museum for the week, which is really exciting. Oh yeah. Yeah. So all the designs need to be created using British fans. And without flaw phone I've been one of the prerequisites. So yeah, it's really exciting how the flower market promote the industry. And obviously at the market you can buy British flowers. So there are guys who specialize in them like practically and assess flowers, um, when they're in seasons. So yeah, it's really. And also of course the foliage guys. So one thing that makes designs stand out, I think more because of the movement of British foliage is the foliage guys, porters and GB. I've got an amazing selection of foliage that you won't be able to buy online.
Kelly Perry - 21:52 - Really. Great. That's so fun. I love, I loved following that last year. What's the Hashtag on that? If anybody wanted to sort of like follow? Um, I think it's just, is it just British flowers week? It is, yeah. Okay, perfect. So if you want to follow along as a website that lists your flowers.com. So perfect. And I'm running. You had just mentioned that those installations, um, where like, you know, floral foam, free installations, have the ECO fresh bouquet wraps made it to you yet? Have you ever experienced those? Do you have those? I haven't tried them, but I am aware of them. They really big over in the states. They're just, they were a part of the conference this year, the Team Flower conference that we had in March and I'm sent, you know, a, a bag with the wraps and things in it to us, but it was really fun to a partner with them on that and you, it's, it's kind of like, um, uh, like a sponge wrapped so it goes around and has quite a bit of the flowers can stay fresh for actually quite a while with this rap and so people will make the bundles of flowers for the installations and then Tuck the wraps in there and that just gives them a little bit more flexibility and um, yeah, they're pretty fun to work with.
Kelly Perry - 23:12 - So I just wondered if you happened to know about them. So.
Rona Wheeldon - 23:16 - Yes sir. Yes, I am aware of them. I don't think they've really taken off here as much as over in the states yet. But, you know, there's always time.
Kelly Perry - 23:26 - Yes, absolutely. And I know that they had been working. I think that England was one of the country. She told me that they were expanding to several different, several different countries. So I think they might be available on Amazon more readily now, but you'll have to just check out for anyone who's listening, just check out their website to be to be 100 percent sure.
Kelly Perry - 23:47 - Financial support for the production of this podcast is brought to you by Team Flowers, creating inspired design, fast track online class designed to set you free in your work with flowers. Nurturing creativity in our lives is important. Designing arrangements that our clients both love and the work cited about is important too. If you've ever experienced that tension between what you'd like to create, what your client needs, this class will help together. We'll go on a journey and creative expression. We'll explore a personal design philosophies. Learn how to break out of creative ruts and step out from under the weight of perfectionism will cover both client and personal arrangements and learn techniques for bridging the gaps between these two types of work. If you're ready to get back to creating from a place of joy and inspiration, you can learn more at TeamFlower.org/online.
Kelly Perry - 24:40 - Well, um, tell us a little bit about the different instagram accounts that you curated and how we could follow along with those. I know you feature a lot of different florists on those accounts. Um, you have the flu flower room, no one under the floral spell and then in the floral spotlight.
Rona Wheeldon - 24:59 - Yes. So I adore instagram as I think lots of flowers do as well just because it's so visual and it's so quick and easy and it's been interesting again to see how that's changed since 2010 when it started. Um, and how it's developed. So I've got three accounts. She said flower. Rona is my main accounts, about 40,000 followers on that and that's where I share what I'm up to, my blog posts and then I set up under the floor or spell in November 2016. I'm back in the January of 2016. I set up the Hashtag, Hashtag under the spell. I'm not realizing how it was going to develop, but I was inundated with just wonderful people using it. And um, there's now 250,000 images with that Hashtag and yeah, it's just incredible, incredible. So I, because I was blown away by the, the images which are being tagged, I wanted to use those images to help inspire more Flores.
Rona Wheeldon - 26:13 - So that's what I set up the account for and now that's got over 67,000 followers so people can use it for inspiration as an I, you know, it's my favorite so I'm always at my favorite stylists, the natural style. It's in the moment and I just am blown away by some of the photography and the styling and I know that Flores to use it for inspiration and to see what's trending and it's flourishing all over the world. And I curated the feet so it's very time intensive but very rewarding as well. And I use an APP called an m u n u, m so that I can curate it so that all looks really cohesive. Um, and she doesn't choose colors and make sure the pallet just looks beautiful together. And the last one is in the floor spotlight, which is a new instagram account. And then you've got about a thousand followers and my whole aim with that was to show the people behind the flowers and the other thing is a big trend at the moment or social media to show the person behind the flowers. And I'm really trying to encourage more and more florists to put themselves out there and be brave.
Kelly Perry - 27:37 - I love that. That's really fun. All the different, you know, I have a couple of different instagram accounts too and it's just a matter of, you know, there's different purposes to each one. And so that's something that absolutely, that you've, that you have these clear, clear lines about what they are and the purpose behind them and what they do and are definitely. And I, I would consider you very much to be an expert in instagram and extremely knowledgeable. Just all of them by the time that you've invested into that is remarkable. And we enjoy it too. We really do. It's so important. The work is so important and we're so thankful that you, um, that you're doing that. And I noticed that you, what are the new things that you've got coming along with flour Ronette here in the future is an instagram course for florists, which is really exciting that you would share that information with us and help us grow our followings and help us understand what to focus on. Tell us a little bit about that. Um,
Rona Wheeldon - 28:49 - so with my training background and writing training manuals in the corporate world, um, it just makes sense to me to use that skill base and also my experience in instagram to help florists really use the social media platform, instagram to grow their businesses. It really is a marketing tool at the end of the day. I know lots of florists use it to, um, network as well with other flourish, which is brilliant because lots of people work on their own and you know, it can feel a bit lonely sometimes. So I know lots of flowers to use it for inspiration, but it's an amazing tool to use to market your business. And so I want to share everything I've learned over the last eight years on Instagram, uh, with florists to hope a hope that it will help them to increase their following, but not just increase their following, to attract the people who are their ideal clients, who, when they are contacted by those clients have really excited and those clients want exactly what those flurries create the floristry style that they want to be known for.
Kelly Perry - 30:03 - Absolutely. No doubt, no doubt. I'm looking forward to seeing all of those things come to fruition. Do you have an email list that, that would be notified whenever that comes out or that it's available or how would someone who's interested in making sure that they don't miss that opportunity?
Rona Wheeldon - 30:19 - Um, so on my homepage, Florida.com white at the bottom, there is an option to input your email address and that will then make sure you're on the mailing list thing. You'll be one of the first to know when it's been released.
Kelly Perry - 30:33 - Perfect. Rona, thank you so much for being here with us today. It's always fun to connect with somebody who loves flowers in another country. I think that, um, oh, would just be fun to talk sometime perhaps again about how, how we can work together and how we can bring our countries together over the common interest of flowers and what we might be able to do that. Something here at Team Flower that we're so I'm so interested in is just what we can accomplish whenever we all work together. So it, it's really been a delight to have you here today. Thank you so much for sharing and for connecting us. And the work that you do is, is really special to us.
Rona Wheeldon - 31:15 - Thank you so much Kelly. It's really kind and yes, I obviously loved to chat again in the future.
Kelly Perry - 31:21 - Very good. As we sign off today, I want to remind you that your work with flowers matters. It's about more than the blues. You're loving the world. You make magic happen. You're creating memories. You're following a dream, delivering white and gray here at Team Flower. We're cheering you on one bloom at a time. Thank you for listening to the podcast and until next time, remember that we're so thankful for each bucket that you wash and each bag of garbage that you take out of your studio that makes all of this possible. You're looking for more Florida education. That's free conversation or inspiration. Just visit teamflower.org/free to see the library of helpful videos and articles for flourished growers in the flower business owners. You'll find helpful tips on everything from creating flower walls to hiring freelancers and much, much more.