We catch up with Alys Wood-Bibby, founder of Blomst – a flower subscription service – to talk motherhood, floristry, her newly renovated kitchen and the garden studio she’ll soon set up shop in. Oh, and mornings – of course…
Alys Wood-Bibby, 32, lives in east London’s Walthamstow with her husband Simon (Si) and their daughter Betsy, 14 months.
What’s your home like?
Very Scandinavian with lots of birch ply, candles, throws, cushions, pictures, vintage pieces and a lot of love.
What time are you up in the morning?
It totally depends.
If I am off to the flower market I am up around 3.30/3.45am.
If it is a non Market day and Betsy decides she doesn’t want to sleep, I can be up any time from 5.30am. On a good sleep day I will be up at 6.30am.
What wakes you up?
Blomst and thinking about how I can get everything done and delivered to my best ability.
How do you feel?
Excited about 2017 and hopeful that things will still progressing at a nice steady space. Oh and tired!
What do you do first thing?
Have Betsy snuggles in bed, on non market days.
Or roll out of bed, brush my teeth, slap on my moisturiser, deodorant and a few squirts Mademoiselle and I am ready drive to the market.
In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Busy, fun, late.
Tea or coffee?
How might the rest of your day pan out?
Every day is so different, I could be speaking with customers, responding to calls and emails, playing around and trying new floral styles, working on new ideas etc.
What’s your workspace like?
My kitchen. Thankfully we have recently renovated the house and we have a really big kitchen and island, which I take over as my blooming space. I insist on having everything in its place before I start: good music, tea and fizzy water on the go. I am convinced it makes all the difference.
We are soon to start building a studio in the garden so my workspace, although fab now, will be super flowery when that is done.
Where is Betsy when you’re working?
With Si or my family. My Ma and Pa are such a great support. Or at nursery, which she loves.
Tell us about your business…
I have always loved flowers and flowers have always played such a vocal point. Moving to Walthamstow, I felt that there was a gap in the market for the type of floral style I could offer. For a long time I had dreamt about having a flower business and soon after having Betsy, I decided to take the plunge. I asked myself what I had to lose (nothing) and slowly but surely started fitting into place.
Denmark was a country I spent a lot of time in when we were younger. Like a lot of people, the style and simplicity you see there really resonates with me, so I decided to call the business Blomst (Danish for flower) as it felt very fitting with my style – and the style I wanted to launch my business with.
I offer a flower subscription service, one-off deliveries, wedding and events. Having my stall has allowed me to embed in E17, I meet so many new customers on a weekly basis and get to chat with so many wonderful and supportive people. Taking those first steps were some of the best steps I have ever taken.
What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Finding the time to get everything done and finished off to the best of my ability. Another challenge is responding to the calls, emails and messages. I get stressed with myself if I take longer than 24 hours to respond, which recently I have I definitely been doing. There just isn’t enough time in the day.
What makes it all worthwhile?
Speaking to my customers and getting lovely feedback. Making people smile when I deliver their flowers and spreading the floral joy across E17.
Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
I have always found the creative side more interesting and that is the easiest bit for me to get on with. Administration and accounts are my least favourite, but as Blomst is quite regularly me on my own, I have to cover everything. I have also come to realise that to have a successful business you need to get involved and understand all elements. Si helps out so much with Blomst, but if I tried to palm off the admin/accounting side to him, I think I would get a strong “no thanks”.
Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
If I have tight deadlines I am a happy lone worker and don’t like being disturbed. If I have more time and am ‘flowering/dreaming’ I love cranking the music up and chatting away. That is such a help to get things done and to a good standard.
What’s the secret to career success?
I would say it is about being dedicated and committed to the end cause. Be genuine and nice to people, and willing to learn and better yourself. Listening to constructive criticism is also a winner.
Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing parenting/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
I feel there is a constant juggle to get the right balance and it’s something I am definitely still working on. Si and Betsy have always been my priorities and spending time as a family is so key to me. As Blomst is getting busier and busier, that balance is becoming harder to find but it is something I am committed to getting right.
Describe an ideal weekend?
Getting a good amount of sleep.
Tea in bed with Si and Betsy (she gives the best snuggles). A busy day at the E17 Village Market seeing lots of customers and chatting about upcoming opportunities. A serious amount of home cooked food, the fire burning, lots of play time with Betsy and some more sleep. Oh and falling asleep on the sofa laying on Si’s lap.
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
In Denmark with Simon and Betsy, with the wind raging outside, lots of candles, blankets and a wood burner. All snuggled, a lovely glass of red wine, some tasty and wholesome food and a great view.