Jamie Christopher, the floral designer flourishing in Birmingham
Nothing melts the heart like a bunch of flowers on Valentine’s Day. On any day, in fact.
Most of us opt for a bundle of blooms in tasteful wrapping. But if you want to say I love you with a bit of flair the man to call is Jamie, founder and creative genius behind Jamie Christopher Floral Design, based in Birmingham.
His name is the one to know in modern British floristry.
Jamie’s Instagram showcases his flair with flowers. “We did a floral tunnel for an 18th birthday party,” he reveals. “It was the entrance. You walked through the tunnel, and it was ombre from cerise pink in every tone until it turned white. There was lighting in it which got brighter as people walked through.”
It took 15 florists to create, and is exactly the sort of marvel Jamie is renowned for.
Most florists stick to vases – Jamie creates masterpieces around 30 foot urns.
When a wedding in the Grand Ballroom in a very prestigious Hotel had trouble with a collapsed ceiling, Jamie had the answer: “We created florals in front to disguise the fact that a whole corner of the room was missing.”
“We turned a whole Edwardian house into a jungle, with palm trees, complete with parrots and monkeys. Artificial, of course.”
He can decorate entire houses. A client in Clapham wanted a jungle theme for a party: “We turned the whole Edwardian house into a jungle, with palm trees, complete with parrots and monkeys. Artificial, of course.” The same client returned before Christmas to request a Winter Wonderland. No specifics. Just whatever Jamie dreamt up.
The maestro lives and breathes flowers, and has done since he was in shorts. “I started in my auntie’s flower shop when I was 12 years old. I used to just work there on the weekends conditioning flowers. And all because I just wanted pocket money so I could have my own pony.”
He bought the horse. “He’s called Jammie Dodger”. And found the bills stacked up.
“So from the minute I could work, I did, every night and every weekend.” He earned his floristry qualification before doing GSCEs.
“I was crazy enough to open a shop when I was 17,” he recalls. “My aunt sold her business. So I went into the next village and rented a shop. I had £500 in my pocket, and this shop unit was a single room with a sink, a tap, and a window. I had to go to the pub next door to use the toilet. I filled the shop with flowers and Mother’s Day things and that was it. I was made.”
Soon after he took over the Interflora shop in Aldridge, near Birmingham. “I was the youngest Interflora member in the world. And no one’s beat me to that.”
‘I won Industry Young Entrepreneur of the Year and received the award at a garden party with the Queen.’
His gift was clear. He won Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Industry Young Entrepreneur of the Year and received the award at a garden party with the Queen. His ambition soared: “I had just turned 18. I saw the bright lights of London and knew I wanted to be there.”
A chance meeting through Interflora introduced him to Paula Pryke, perhaps the best-known florist in the nation over the last 30 years. He became her general manager. It was the perfect finishing school.
Today Jamie is back in Aldridge, and passionate about making sure all clients, from oligarchs to love struck teenagers, are satisfied. “A client may show me a design worth £350 and ask me what I can do. The truth is we can always create something similar, on a smaller budget. It can be half the size, and still work.” Just £35 gets you a lavish box of roses, carnations, lilies, and hydrangeas – his work really is for everyone.
Jamie teaches, too. The shop doubles up as a school. “Last night it was a simple wreath workshop. Everybody was really enjoying themselves. None of them had done it before – they all went away chuffed with the wreath they’d created!”
As a business owner, the flowers and clients always come first. Accounting, less so. “I wish I was more clued up about accounting,” he admits. “I had three receipts in my pocket this morning, but I should get better at putting them somewhere safe – I’m always getting them wet or I losing them.” Luckily for Jamie, Tide’s expense feature makes receipt tracking easy.
He joined Tide as a founder member. “I’ve got a card which says Founder on it,” he says. “My card looks pretty knackered by now, but I’m determined to keep it.”
He says Tide suits businesses like his perfectly: “It’s like having my bank on my phone, in my hand, 24 hours a day. It makes sure I’m on top of things. It’s why I fell in love with Tide.”
Tide’s standard of service is important to him. “I message the support team with all sorts of questions. Silly questions! And they always give an answer straight away.”
He’s also a regular at Tide meetups. “They are just great fun. You have a drink and see how others have performed. I’ve probably got four clients from when I’ve gone to Tide meetings.” He encourages other members to join Tide events like our annual Evening with Tide. “We all feel like part of a community, which you’d never get with a high-street banking provider.”
This will be a year of grand plans. The teaching side of the business will expand. He’s winning jobs further north: “I’ve already had two bookings from Manchester and an enquiry from Scotland.”
And he’ll keep shaking up the floristry world with his brilliant designs.
“People say it’s my lifestyle,” he says, reflecting. “I tried getting out of it about six years ago and started to study zoology. But I just couldn’t stay away from flowers.”
Valentine’s Day lovers will be delighted to hear it.