A Look Back at 2017
With the arrival of the new year 2018, Neill Strain Floral Couture celebrates ten years of business in Belgravia since the opening of the first boutique in 2008. In this blog post Neill remembers the company's impressive achievements of 2017 including the opening of the Harrods concession while comemmorating its 10th year anniversary.
I have to admit that 2017 has been the most exceptional year for Neill Strain Floral Couture since we opened now 10 years ago in Belgravia, in 2008. Opening the concession at Harrods in July, and the success we have achieved there since virtually the first day, have exceeded my expectations. But in 2017 we enjoyed many highlights which I will share with you in chronological order...
For me and my team, the start of every new year comes with a focus on the preparations for Valentine's Day and the construction of our floral heart. Each year we change and develop the design and I was particularly pleased with our installation in 2017. Of course, we are now working on our 2018 design... something a little different maybe for our 10th year anniversary.
It was for Valentine's Day 2017 that we launched for the first time our online ordering service. Throughout the year, we create seasonal designs to make up the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Collections which also include bouquets and arrangements especially for the important annual celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving, to name a few.
While working on our Valentine's Day preparations, we also drew up and created equally romantic designs for our first Brides' Magazine Belgravia bridal show. On the 16th February, a select group of wedding suppliers with boutiques and businesses in Belgravia gathered at the Lanesborough Hotel to welcome future brides with a glamorous fashion show, champagne and canapes. Our fairytale table display, exquisite bridal bouquets and pure "wow" catwalk decor won the hearts of many brides and guests. The 2018 Belgravia bridal show, where we will again adorn the Lanesborough Hotel with our romantic designs, will take place on January 22nd. All brides are welcome and can book tickets here.
In springtime, when the Garden Squares of Belgravia are looking their most beautiful, we are always very busy at the boutique, with International Women's Day, Mother's Day, Easter and many other celebrations. At this time, inspirations, research and creativity were in full bloom for our Chelsea Flower Show preparations, and, in addition to all this, the extensive work for the opening at Harrods had also begun.
In conjunction with Chelsea Flower Show, every year we host a showcase of a single flower variety at our Belgravia boutique. 2017 was no exception and we created an extensive exhibition of rare, old and new Hydrangeas including cut stems and plants from our Dutch suppliers, renowned breeders, Kolster, and growers, Sonneveld. In March, I took some of my team to participate in the research and select the blooms for "Hello Hydrangea!" at both Kolster and Sonneveld. These visits are not only an extraordinary learning experience, but quite inspirational.
Visiting Hydrangea breeder, Kolster, in Holland.
And visiting Sonneveld, Holland's largest and most admired cut Hydrangea grower.
Of course, part of the excitement of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is creating exterior installations. For many years, I have created show-stopping displays to celebrate London's most floral week, both for my own Belgravia boutique and for many neighbours. In 2016, the Grosvenor Estate launched the official "Belgravia in Bloom" competition, encouraging all our local businesses to decorate their store fronts for the occasion. This year, following Grosvenor's chosen theme of Children's Books, we designed 5 installations and were coveted with many awards: the overall "Best Floral Display" for our "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" themed design at the boutique, two "Highly Commended" awards and a Gold for The Jumeirah Carlton's jungle-themed "Chelsea in Bloom." Here are some of the displays...
The highlight of our work for RHS Chelsea was hosting our own launch party with a Wizard of Oz theme at the boutique. With magical cocktails and canapés inside where a yellow brick road of flowers adorned the ceiling, the party was animated by two "witches," one ballet dancing and the other playing her violin including of course the iconic song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."
Alongside the official opening of our Harrods concession on July 21st, we had two inspirational projects with Harrods. Christmas in July, for which we turned 2,000m2 of office space into a haven of festive glamour and sophistication with 50 meters of lush garlands, 20 ornate Christmas trees, luxury wreaths and absolutely stunning floral arrangements for the store's annual press presentation. This was followed by a photoshoot for the August edition of the Harrods Magazine announcing the new fragrances. We were asked to create floral crowns inspired by the ingredients, style and mood of each fragrance. Here are some of the designs...
July 21st 2017 is a date I will never forget. Opening the concession at Harrods, the most perfect place for me to showcase the extraordinarily rare and high quality of flowers that I've managed to source after years of research, and the inspirational designs that I adore to create with my team, was more like a personal reward for the dedication, passion and hard work I have put into my business. Having both the Belgravia boutique and the Harrods concession provides a privileged platform for me to express my pure love and emotions for the beauty of flowers to clients who feel the same way. My growers, my team and myself, we are all exilirated by this opportunity and take so much pride in offering the most exquisite flowers available in the world today.
No sooner are we into the Autumn season, one of my favourites for the richness of the flowers, fruits and berries, than Christmas and Thanksgiving arrive. Our Christmas exterior installation this year followed a traditional red and gold theme including three-tiered topiary trees crafted with this season's trend of faux flowers. We will soon find out at the Grosvenor-hosted Belgravia awards whether we have been awarded a prize in this year's "Belgravia Christmas Windows" competition. In any case, the past few weeks have been exceptionally busy and rewarding with magnificent home styling installations, party decor and literally dozens of Christmas tree designs including a 20-foot beauty at St. Paul's Knightsbridge lavishly decked in sparkling gold with touches of red and green. 2017 was the first year we offered Christmas decor online with local and nationwide deliveries and our Christmas Collection along with an exclusive wreath for Harrods has been highly acclaimed.
Undoubtedly, 2017 has been a fabulous year. Yet 2018 marks our 10th year anniversary and we have more exciting projects planned for such an important celebration, starting with our new contract at The Jumeirah Carlton Hotel as of January 5th. Keep following us on social media as we share the extraordinary life of a luxury florist in the 21st century.
Warmest wishes to you all for a happy, healthy and hugely successful New Year 2018.
In 2018 Neill Strain Floral Couture celebrates its 10th anniversary in Belgravia