Interview – Julie Allen
JULIE ALLEN, OWNER AND DESIGNER OF MOUTAN, SHARES WITH AVIATOR HER PASSION FOR EVERYTHING FLORAL
As early as I can remember I was intrigued by the scent and shapes of individual blooms, and I hope that when you walk into one of our shops that the profusion of colour, the different textures and scents will give you an uplifting experience.
I was born and brought up in Hong Kong, my Father was a civil engineer and my parents lived there for 18 years. I moved back to the UK when I was 14. I love to travel particularly to the Far East countries and this may have stemmed from my time living in Hong Kong as a child as I have many happy memories from my time spent there.
My love affair with flowers started at Art College where I always loved painting flowers. Sadly I don?t find much to paint these days, however I do think an artistic background is very helpful in the floristry profession, understanding the use of colour, texture and composition. I went on to study floristry at Sparsholt College Winchester. After leaving college I undertook work experience for the Flowers and Plants Association based in Covent Garden Flower Market. For a year, on and off, I assisted them on their stand at Hampton Court Flower Show, supporting the celebrity florists who were demonstrating and helped out in the office. This experience gave me a real hands-on insight into the floristry profession and I knew I definitely wanted to continue in this industry. For a short time I worked for a London florist but knew that I wanted to ultimately open my own shop and start working with flowers closer to home. I have always loved Odiham, it is close to where I live, and it is where I opened my first shop twelve years ago. I started the business on my own but had the help and support of my husband throughout.
What is my favourite flower? That?s a hard one to choose. My preferences change seasonally but I do have a particular fondness for peonies around late Spring/early Summer. In fact I named my first shop after the Moutan Peony. However I would have to say that Roses are my favourite year round flower.
I’m always looking at the latest flower fashions for inspiration but we do have our own distinctive style which is natural, modern and simple. I like to incorporate our unique style wherever possible. Our service is bespoke and we work with our clients to create what is suitable for their requirements, whether it be just a couple of stems to brighten their day or an extravagant arrangement for a special occasion. I particularly like working with brides for that very reason. You get to be involved in the whole process from choosing colours and variety of flower to the creative design. Every bride has something different in mind for their flowers and I love discussing ideas with them and making their ideas a reality.
I particularly love this time of year. I get very excited at Christmas, as I love making seasonal door wreaths and garlands for our customers getting everyone in the festive spirit and being part of their Christmas. Every year I create two large pedestal displays to grace the front entrance of Andrew Lloyd Webber?s country estate and supply table decorations for his Christmas Day lunch table and various other displays throughout the house. I have been working for him for the last four years and he has commissioned me to produce flower displays for family parties and special occasions. I always enjoy creating the Christmas displays for his beautiful home. It?s fantastic to have the opportunity to work with celebrity clients however the service they receive is the same as all our customers, we treat every customer as special.
We are very honoured that Aviator chose us to be their in-house florist and have enjoyed working our magic in such a fantastic venue. The style of Aviator fits perfectly with our distinctive style; you could say we are a perfect match! With Christmas just round the corner we are excited to unveil the plans we have for some incredible and slightly unusual displays. Watch this space!
Visit www.moutan.co.uk for more details on the bespoke service that Julie and Moutan can offer.
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