From the inspiration behind GAIA Vessels through to their favourite flowers to work with and some expert tips, we get to know more about Jennie and Jess, the professional floral designers behind the business.
What inspired you to start GAIA Vessels?
Jess: Having worked in floral design for around five years, we were increasingly frustrated at the lack of sophisticated and elegant vessels to create our floral designs in.
Our options were limited to either mass-produced pieces sold by large floral wholesalers that didn't feel right for many of our projects, or beautiful vintage pieces that were often one-offs, so weren't suitable for when we needed to create multiple arrangements at weddings and events.
We knew that we weren't alone in our search for the perfect vessel, so decided to take matters into our own hands and design a range of ceramic products to fill the gap in the market within our industry.
After endless sketches, failed prototypes and many dead-ends, we finally found a group of talented craftspeople to bring our vision to life. The rest, as they say, is history!
Do you both approach floral design in a similar way?
Jennie: I would say the similarity is that when it comes to our work, we always want to create something that feels fitting for each event and each client; it needs to feel unique and specific to them and be something we haven't done before.
For me personally, embracing seasonality and using flowers that you might not see very often is really important to me. I do this by working with lots of British growers and trusting their opinion and advice on what's best at a given time of year.
Jess: I think our broad approach to our client work is similar, but when it comes to actually creating arrangements we're quite different. I'm probably more of an over-thinker who likes to approach things in a certain way.
Jennie just lets the creativity flow and has a great eye for just knowing what works. She is also the quickest arranger I know, which I'll always be envious of!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Jess: We find it everywhere! From flicking through interior design magazines to driving past the hedgerows and seeing what's growing. Also from our clients themselves and their individual stories; who they are and what makes them tick.
What's the most exciting brief you've ever had?
Jennie: I'm very lucky in that I seem to attract clients who are on the lookout for something a bit different. I also work a lot with planners who have a great eye and design mindset which means that I'm genuinely excited by every wedding I do.
Getting to travel to different venues in locations all over the world is also such a thrilling part of the job. I'd have to say though that the most exciting thing is when clients give you free reign over the concept and design of the day. Hearing the words "we trust you" will always make for the best brief!
What are your favourite flowers to work with?
Jennie: My favourite flowers are those that are seasonal. Big, structural foraged branches will always have a special place in my heart - as will rambling roses. If I had to pick just one then sweetpeas and sweetpea tendrils are my all-time favourite.
Jess: Hands-down for me it's foxgloves. There's something about their height, their structure, the colours and the way they move. I just adore them and had them everywhere when I got married.
As florists, do you feel more of a connection to the natural world than most?
Jess: We're both very lucky that living in the Cotswolds means we have some of the most beautiful countryside right on our doorstep - and we're both very aware not to take that for granted.
I think working with flowers definitely tunes you in to the seasons a lot more, and with that comes a greater awareness of nature and your environment.
I don't think either of us could go back to living in a busy city again now that we've lived in the countryside.
You've got a completely free weekend with no work or family responsibilities, how do you choose to spend it?
Jennie: A free weekend is very rare for me as I'm usually always working. A mini break where I could travel to a European city would be dreamy. Otherwise a lie-in would be a great start, perhaps followed by a massage and a lovely brunch somewhere like The Blockley Cafe which isn't far from where I live.
A long walk and a pub stop followed by lighting the fire back home with a glass of wine and Gilmore Girls on the TV would finish it all off perfectly.
Jess: Being a full-time mum and working part-time means a free weekend with no responsibilities seems impossible to fathom...! Quality alone time is something I rarely get, so being able to read a book or go to the cinema would feel like bliss.
A couple of hours would probably be just enough to start missing my husband, little boy and our two dogs and to hurry back to the chaos of home and the simple pleasures of a glass of wine and a home-cooked meal (ideally made by someone other than me...!)
What's the best tip or advice you could give someone wanting to develop their floral arranging skills?
Jennie: Rather than buying flowers from the supermarket or a large wholesaler, head to Flowers From the Farm to find the local growers near you.
Ask a grower to provide you with a mixed bucket of seasonal flowers, and experiment with the different shapes, colours and textures that you'll get that you might not usually use.
Our Footed Bowls and Low Bowls are great vessels to start learning with, and if it's your first time you might want to use one of our Lids to help you with your structure. But just give it a go and enjoy it!
There's no perfection in nature so have fun and be creative.
Jess: I'd second what Jennie says - there's so many different ways of approaching floral design but ultimately, there are no rules and that's incredibly freeing!
Practice as much as you can and you'll soon develop your skills and get more comfortable with designing with flowers.