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How I went from a teacher to a paper florist

Clare Davies is the founder and owner of paper floristry business Petal & Bird which is based in Sussex.

My background has always been a creative one, having studied textiles design at university and then going on to train as an art teacher. Before I started Petal & Bird I worked as a secondary school teacher for 11 years where I taught art and textiles to 11 to 16-year-olds.

Why I set up Petal & Bird

It all started when I began making handmade items for my own wedding in 2016. I really wanted to hold on to as many memories from our special day as possible and hated the idea of our wedding flowers dying just days later. So I begin looking into ways I could create them myself. I thought about fabric using my skills in textiles but eventually fell in love with the craft of making paper flowers.

I got such a lovely reaction to the flowers I created and we were really lucky to have our wedding photographs featured in a national wedding magazine. I thought I better put a name to my work just in case someone else wanted me to create paper flowers for them. 

Read more: How I became a florist 

Miss Bespoke Papercuts

My first few orders started to come through while I was still teaching but I had fallen out of love with it and was looking for a change. I also wanted to take some time out to reflect and travel. My husband had been really lucky to have a three-month sabbatical accepted at his work in 2017 and so I handed in my resignation. It was the best decision I ever made.

I began to focus on my business ideas, developing my skills and when we returned from our travels in February 2018 my business was up and running. I was so excited to see orders coming in and it was so freeing to be my own boss, make my own decisions and work to my own timetable.

What is a paper florist?

I call myself a paper florist and at Petal & Bird I create bespoke realistic paper flowers for special occasions and events. I pride myself in the high quality of my work offering couples bespoke collections for their weddings, recreating wedding bouquets for couples to celebrate their first-year ‘paper’ wedding anniversary, as well as creating bespoke blooms for birthdays, celebrations and special occasions. And I still keep the teacher in me happy through my paper flower workshops.

Photography by Vicki

Being my own boss

I love running my own business but it does mean wearing many ‘hats’. In an average day, I am working on the social media for my business (which sometimes feels like a job in itself!), writing blogs and updating my website, putting quotes together for customers to packing up orders, trips to the post office and then finally making the flowers themselves.

I think the work ethic and time management skills I developed while being a teacher and running a department really helped prepare me for being flexible and motivated, setting high standards of myself.

What I love about what I do

My favourite part is the making of the flowers and then seeing or hearing from my happy customers. Seeing a bride’s face when she comes to collect her wedding flowers and hearing how they are better than she could have imagined is just the best feeling. I love seeing couples wedding photographs and seeing their flowers in action. It’s so special.

I also really enjoy working on photoshoots with other local wedding suppliers. Getting an opportunity to tell a story and showcase our talents has been great. I have been really lucky to work with some great photographers who have captured my flowers beautifully.

Petal and Bird Bride’s Bouquet Recreation

My advice to my younger self

Don’t be such a worrier and have the confidence to speak up and believe in yourself more. My personal confidence really grew when I started my teaching career, constantly talking and being listened to. I’d have loved some of that confidence back when I was younger rather than being worried about saying the wrong thing.

Also, I would have considered taking a business studies course at college or university. Unfortunately, it wasn’t something that was offered as part of my university course and I think it would have really helped me develop my career path sooner.

Knowing how to market yourself as a creative and what options are available and having a background in business would have been really useful. I have picked up a lots from my own research and its amazing what you can find online now to help. I have also found attending local networking groups have been really beneficial and have really helped me continue to build my confidence and brand.

To find out more about paper florist firm Petal & Bird, visit:

Follow Petal & Bird on Instagram and Facebook.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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