Overarching principles. A day with Jesse and Ally of Aesme Flowers.
When a wedding inquiry came through for an event next May involving something very exciting but outside my comfort zone of 1950s containers and asymmetric bouquets, I decided to brush up on some of my technical skills. I had been reading Aesme Flowers' blog and following their Instagram for some time, and really love their style. I also discovered that they are West London based (as I am) and dropped them a line to see if they did 121 tutorials. Jesse quickly replied that she and Ally did indeed take on students and suggested some possibilities. I confessed that what I really wanted to do was an archway that would meet some specific requirements of the potential bride, I was so pleased that I got an enthusiastic response and we arranged to meet sooner rather than later, whilst the last of the flowers in their cutting garden were still in bloom.
One of the things we all know about social media is that is presents a very edited, carefully curated view of a person or company's day to day existence. We rarely see the mess, the dramas or anything else that goes on. I knew, however, when I arrived at Ally's studio ( a little late, and somehow by the back door) as the garden wall was painted in that wonderful pinky peach that is part of the Aesme brand. Going further into the studio I saw that the interior walls are the same colour and it looks amazing. If the girls aren't already in conversation with Farrow and Ball about adding "Aesme" to their next collection, they really should be! Oh, and those pictures you see of mirrors and photo frames and immaculate shelves of vintage vessels - they really are that tidy and ordered when you see them first hand.
We had a wonderful morning in the garden erecting and then decorating an archway, which Jesse then spent time photographing carefully whilst Ally went off to the kitchen to make the most delicious (and healthy) soup I have had in a very long time. Hilda had the best time guarding the base of a tree from which a squirrel was taunting her, and occasionally being made to sit under the archway for photographs.
After lunch we had a perfect afternoon of drinking tea, making buttonholes and cooing over Hilda, who had moved from her bed on the floor onto Ally's immaculate (of course) sofa. I worried about the possibility of muddy footprints, but nobody else did, and Hilda slept soundly in a pool of adoration.
I always tend to end my blogs about 121s/ flower schools with what it was that made each experience stand out for me. On this occasion, the demystification of sturdy arches with delicate flowers was a really big plus. But in terms of why a trip to Aesme Flowers specifically made such a difference, it was definitely the generosity of spirit as Jesse and Ally shared with me the experiences that had brought them to go into business together, as they talked me through a quote I was pulling together and gave me the benefit of some of their experiences along the way. We shared all sorts of knowledge and I came away with much admiration for two talented designers who compliment each other so well but also work with such humility and grace towards others. I hope our paths cross again, I'm pretty sure they will.