“I like flowers that don’t last that long. I love the idea that you give someone something that they can only enjoy for a very short amount of time.”
Anna Potter was always destined to work with flowers. She studied Fine Arts and Photography at university, but after graduating she found herself back surrounded by what she truly loved, selling flora and fauna. After cutting her teeth at a local florist she started her own shop in Sheffield a few years later, Swallows and Damsons.
With 159, 000 followers, Anna’s Instagram account acts as her biggest cheerleader. And it also gives her the opportunity to combine two passions. “I could bring together flowers and photography,” she says. “It really made sense to me, and from there it just grew organically.”
We asked Anna how Instagram helped her to develop her own style, what she likes about being a florist and what she considers her own favourite bouquet.
Hi Anna, what kind of flowers do you sell the most?
Anna Potter: Wild, natural bouquets are our main style. Over the years we’ve made that our signature, and now people come to us for that, which is really nice. We don’t have to compromise our design choices and aesthetics for other people, we just make things that we’re passionate about.
Still, everyone has their own taste. How do you decide what kind of bouquet suits what kind of person?
We ask questions to translate what the customer wants into a bouquet. They might pick out one flower that they really like, and then we build something around it by using complementary flowers. Quite often someone comes in and asks for a rose or a dahlia as a main flower. Then we’d advise to add something softer to it, with more texture.
What do you keep in mind when you’re buying flowers for someone else?
I’m obsessed with colours. There are a lot of flower meanings, but I would mostly be thinking about colours and styles: does that person want something bright, bold and energetic, or maybe something muted and softer? That’s how my mind goes. The way someone dresses or is attracted to interiors or other elements of design often matches up with the kind of flower that they like.
What role does Instagram play in your work?
It helps us to understand what our style is by forcing us to think about it. Our confidence grew while using it. And actually the majority of our requests for wedding bouquets are from people who found us through Instagram. Last year we did a wedding in Italy and two in France. The world just became so much smaller.
Are there any specific bouquets that you’re very proud of?
Not necessarily the big projects. I get excited by the small things that happen every day. The nice thing about having a shop in a local community is that you play a part in several events in people’s lives. Births, funerals, and weddings – people give our flowers to each other at very important moments in their lives. That makes me proud.
What’s your own favourite flower?
I love garden roses. Especially the ones that seem imperfect and shabby, and have a strong scent, like they’ve just been picked from the garden. I also like flowers that don’t necessarily last that long – I love the idea that you give someone something that they can only enjoy for a very short amount of time. They watch as it goes from opening up and blooming as a flower until it eventually droops and dies. In the modern world everything needs to last long, but these flowers don’t. You have to learn to enjoy them for the time being.
When giving someone a flower, don’t just give any flower. Make it special, and give them their favourite.
Photography: Fiona MakkinkGIF: STUDIO ULTRADELUXE