Charlotte Harding talks to a woman who swapped the classroom for the great outdoors.
Opting for a career change is never an easy choice especially if it involves starting your own business.
For Ella Turner her passion for nature saw her leave her role as a deputy head teacher at a school to open her own flower design studio in Shoreham.
“It is a lot of hard work,” she reveals.
“People think it is all very glamorous. The end result may look it but it can be a physically demanding job moving big buckets of water about at one in the morning.
“Sometimes it can be quite intense as I really invest in each project but I love it.”
Whereas in her previous role she says she was working to someone else’s priorities now with her own business she can take it where she wants, which she finds exciting.
“I love how varied my job is,” explains Ella.
“No two projects are the same but you also have the seasons which mean you get fresh inspiration every few months. There is always something to look forward to.”
Before launching Byrd & Spry, Ella decided to reduce her working week to four days taking Friday off so she could spend more time with her daughter while also getting out in nature.
“I would get out and go for walks and forage. I really enjoyed going outside,” she says.
“I started doing things for my own home and first set up a blog of what I was doing just for a bit of fun really.
“Then friends would ask me to do flowers for parties and events which I managed to fit in alongside my full time job.”
Two years ago Ella took the leap of faith and decided to dedicate all her time to the business, saying the fact that it has grown organically meant she could adapt and add to it naturally.
When talking to Ella her passion for flowers is evident especially when it comes to the seasons.
“I love all the seasons,” she enthuses.
“But as a redhead autumn is maybe my favourite. I love crisp autumn days.
“It is when berries come out and you can forage and can add a little wonkiness to a display.
“Obviously the flowers have to be perfect but the bouquet doesn’t have to be. It can have something a bit different in there.”
And Ella’s advice for any couples who may not have picked the date yet…
“May,” she smiles. “It is the perfect month for a wedding. You get the beautiful spring blooms like ranunculus which everyone loves but also summer flowers like peonies.”
The peony it seems is still proving popular, as well as the hydrangea while Ella loves using a number or perennials and woodland greens like ferns.
“My style is quite sculptural with a wildness to it,” says Ella.
“I love using seasonal flower and foliage.
“I always take into account the client’s brief and the venue and work with it.
“If you are working in a regency building I try and include something elegant. It is about enhancing the venue and the event.
“I do love a challenge though. There have been moments and people have said shall we hang something from the ceiling and I just go ‘ok’.
“There is a lot of engineering and construction in floristry that people don’t realise.”
A self-taught florist Ella admits she sought out people whose work she liked to see how they do what they do.
Alongside flowers Ella also enjoys the event styling which saw her at a recent wedding creating 400 3D diamonds to hang in the atrium of the Brighton Dome.
“I enjoy working with the client,” Ella explains.
“For the people you are working with it is a signature moment in their lives and I think people sometimes forget that. I care and get excited about every event I work at.”
When you are planning that event that means the world to you be it happy or sad, it is great to know that Ella is just as excited as you are.
To view more of Byrd & Spry’s portfolio, visit byrdandspry.co.uk
This first appeared in the March edition of etc Magazine, pick up your copy now.