Gus Cavanagh, Augustus Bloom, Canonbury, North London
Specialising in flowers in their most natural forms, Gus Cavanagh describes his style as “loose, organic and unique”.
We caught up with Gus, who crafts bouquets from his studio in North London, to find out more about his journey into the world of wildflower floristry.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My career in floristry started by accident. My best friend’s mum started an events business specialising in flowers.
My friends and I all did a few days’ menial labour for the company as teenagers. I ended up working for them more regularly, until one day I found myself managing their flower shop.
I learnt on the job, with no formal training, following in the footsteps of my employers.
What ’ s a typical day like for you?
I wake up between 3-6am then drive over to the New Covent Garden Flower Market in Vauxhall. There, I carefully select what flowers I need for the jobs I have coming up.
I go back to my studio in Canonbury, north London, and quickly get all the flowers into water.
I then make up the arrangements that need to be delivered that day and get back in my van to make my deliveries. I usually have a bit of time to go home and do some bookkeeping, send out some invoices and respond to enquiries for future work.
I then do the school run, collect my daughter from school and – fingers crossed – squeeze in a quick nap before the evening commences.
What makes you different from other florists?
Firstly, I am a young man working in a heavily female-dominated industry. I believe my style is quite identifiable to me.
I work with seasonal flowers that look natural and wild and put them together in a loose and organic way.
Although this has become very much the zeitgeist of our times, I believe that I have my own unique style.
What ’ s your favourite thing about what you do?
I enjoy working on small projects like wedding flowers. It means I meet lots of new people, work in beautiful venues and have a definite beginning, middle and end to the job, which is a wholly satisfying way to work.
I also love going to the flower market. I often dread having to get up early, but once you are up and out of the house, it’s very rewarding being active while other people are still snoozing.
The market always has an energetic buzz and I love the banter from the traders there.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about buying a florist ?
I personally think it is very hard to make money running a flower shop. It costs a lot to staff the shop, cover the rent and rates and buy enough flowers to make the shop look full and inviting.
There is a lot of wastage and you have to sell a lot of flowers to cover your overheads.
If the flowers don’t sell, you can’t just hold onto the stock; you have to lower the price considerably or chuck them out.
People tend to buy flowers irregularly, and for this reason it isn’t practical to be on standby all day long hoping somebody may need flowers for an occasion.
So my advice would be: if you are going to do it, get a good location with a huge footfall. Make this the priority and aim for a big turnover.
Also, diversify your product range. Invest in things that don’t die so quickly: plants, vases etc.
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