My first boss: Philippa Craddock, world leading florist

Florist Philippa Craddock was chosen to create the flower arrangements for Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Reuters

Hailed as a floral mastermind, Edinburgh-born Philippa Craddock started her business from her kitchen table in 2009 and is now hailed as ‘Audrey Hepburn of florists’. Self-taught, she has worked with the world’s biggest brands and in 2018 was chosen to design and create wedding flowers for Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

The Craddock Flower School was originally launched in 2014, with studio courses for both new and experienced florists. These online masterclasses are now world-renowned, with interactive creative business courses set to launch this year.

“It was a tough and brutal industry when I started out in executive recruiting and search in the city. In a strong male world, I did sales calls and development work. I was Thrown in there and still felt a bit uneasy as I didn’t really have any influences.

I got a job at Holker Watkin (now ZRG Partners) recruiting high-level strategists. Anna Persin was one of the founders and for the first time I met someone who inspired me. She was incredibly sweet, kind, and taught me how to be myself in a difficult role where I previously struggled to let people down.

Anna had a genuine smile and warmth around her. She was always positive, never got angry or raised her voice, and had immense respect. It was the opposite of what I had seen before in this world.

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As she spoke softly, everyone seemed to stop and listen. Her smile could seem quite scary but she succeeded thanks to her kindness. I was in my mid-twenties and it felt like a lid had been lifted.

I saw a lot of people start their own business around the same time. Anna was an active young mother and was still able to run the business. Before that, I was trying to figure out how to have kids and have a career. Anna gave me the confidence and belief to run my own business – which I do now with my husband, Tony – and be a mother.

ENGLEFIELD GREEN, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 16: Floral designer Philippa Craddock (R) and garden keeper John Anderson choose plants to feature in the flower displays at St George's Chapel at Prince Harry's wedding to Ms Meghan Markle, in The Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park on May 16, 2018 in Englefield Green, England.  The arrangements will be created using locally sourced foliage, much of which will be taken from the gardens and parklands of Windsor Great Park.  (Photo by Eddie Mulholland-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Philippa Craddock and John Anderson, garden keeper at Windsor Great Park, choose plants for the flower arrangements in St George’s Chapel at Harry and Meghan’s wedding. Photo: Eddie Mulholland/Getty Images

I originally started a plant donation business in 2009; I was brave and just took the plunge at the start.

From the recruitment interview technique I learned from Anna and how to match candidates, I was then able to apply my creativity to talk to the wedding couples or clients and what they were waiting for memoirs.

This led to us running a large flower school in London, a dealership in Selfridges and a studio in Sussex and London. There was a lot going on so we wanted to go further west.

Our school was always full and we couldn’t help all of our students, who came from far away. But a few years before the pandemic, we had decided to move our flower school online and now that was the clear answer.

Watch: Philippa Craddock on 9 ways to make fresh flowers last longer

As much as I love working at weddings and events, I love teaching creatives – everyone from home arrangers to businesses – and wanting them to feel empowered and confident.

Several years ago I approached The White Company to ask to do the floristry side and built a strong bond with the brand. Its founder, Chrissie Rucker, now leads Women Supporting Women at the Prince’s Trust. It is a women’s team that supports young women through training, education and business opportunities.

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The common thread here is that there is a real gentleness and tranquility among all these leaders and ambassadors. Everyone is an incredibly sweet and attentive listener and it shows that you can be very successful doing just that.

An artwork titled 'Frida Kahlo in Flowers', designed by florist Philippa Craddock, is on display during an exhibition titled 'Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up' at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in western London June 13, 2018. - - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS INDICATED IN THE CAPTION (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) / RESERVED FOR EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION BY THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION / FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

A work entitled “Frida Kahlo in Flowers”, designed by Philippa Craddock, presented during an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in 2018. Photo: Daniel Leal/AFP

In this regard, understanding what people are looking for has also been key in our business when working with brands like Givenchy, Chanel and Alexander McQueen.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the chief board strategist or producing flowers for a press event, it’s equally important to understand the brief.

I can’t stress this enough, but you can really be successful in business if you’re sweet and kind and just be yourself. That’s exactly what I now want to share and promote – and those are the feelings I’ve gathered from Anna.”

Philip Craddock is launching a Creative Business course and an interactive masterclass this fall for florists or any creative

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