In today’s creator interview, we had the privilege of getting a glimpse into the mind and heart of Willow Crossley — acclaimed florist, author, and designer. The UK’s beloved ‘Queen of Flowers’ has an unwavering passion for blossoms and has become a revered figure in the world of floral artistry. Beyond her prowess as a florist, Willow Crossley’s talents extend to the realm of writing and design. Read on to delve into her creative background, collaboration process, and the lessons she’s learned throughout her career.
01 / We’re such big fans of your work. You have a keen eye for color and texture, creating designs that exude a sense of elegance and sophistication. Could you share a little about your creative background?
I grew up in rural Wales in the sprawling countryside, surrounded by very wild, towering trees. In my formative years, I was desperate to do fashion, and I did it for a long time. I always loved design and creating. I found that I was very drawn to color. Everything I do now is inspired by the captivating silhouettes of trees and the awe-inspiring nature I was always surrounded by growing up.
02 / Can you tell us about growing up in Wales and your aspirations early in life?
I wanted to be a fashion designer but I was terrible at drawing. My degree combined journalism and styling. I spent lots of years doing magazines and fashion covers, and found it to be a very competitive environment. Ultimately, I saw that world wasn’t making me super happy. Charlie, my boyfriend at the time, and now husband, moved to the south of France, and I went with him. I needed focus and purpose in my days. I started a blog about flea markets where I would collect snippets of fabric and lace. Then, I began making things like notebooks, baskets and such, and I would sell them on the beach in Saint-Tropez. My first book was about that. It’s always been about creating — it’s been the common tread throughout my work.
03 / In the beginning of your career, you worked in the fashion world. Can you share a bit about this stage in your life and how your career in the fashion industry ultimately pivoted into floral design?
I don’t think I could call it a career, it was more my degree. For years, I was immersed in the fashion world and realized I didn’t have the happiness I sought in that industry. I mentioned that I felt I needed more purpose, and I followed that desire. I now have The Seedling which is a monthly newsletter that goes out to subscribers. It’s come full circle where I’m always creating. I’d say the common thread is the desire to constantly create. I also find that I’m always craving nature & needing to decompress in nature.
04 / You’ve credited your mother, Kate Corbett-Winder, as the reason behind your love of flowers, collaborated with her whilst writing your own books, and shared that she’s taught you everything you know. Can you tell us how your relationship with your mother has helped shape who you are today?
We’re very close, and talk everyday. She started in fashion as well, then moved to Whales and started writing about gardens and interiors. She’s now a painter and just had her third solo exhibition. We’re on the same page creatively and she’s taught me all about plants and gardening, and she edits my books. She’s the number one person I go to. I trust her innately.
05 / You’ve worked with a number of brands to create impressive collaborations — from fashion designs to beautiful intricate rugs to a whimsical wallpaper collection. What does your process look like when collaborating with a brand? How is your approach different from your personal creative process?
The process is quite similar to my own. I love working with other brands because it’s a whole new world. I’m desperate to learn and it’s so interesting learning something new. Collaboration projects take about a year and my favorite part is the first few months; doing research and looking into archives. I love having free range to dream up and create patterns and mood boards. From there, I pitch ideas and see if what I’ve created will work for both of our customers.
06 / Can you share some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a floral designer and how you’ve been able to overcome them?
I do lots of large installations — I’m working on a few now. We build through the night and working out the mechanics of keeping the flowers alive, both outdoors and indoors, is the biggest challenge. It takes lots of planning to create such large displays, and it’s such an incredible rush for me. Recently, I collaborated with Ralph Lauren, where we transformed the Chelsea store into a train traveling through a prairie. I love the grand scale ideas.
07 / Your work revolves around all things florals, writing, and design, but also includes the less glamorous responsibilities of running a business. Could you walk us through a typical work day?
There is no such thing! It’s relaxing to have such different days. I drop the kids off at their schools and have an office close by. There’s 4 of us in the office. Some days, I could be visiting suppliers and shopping. I love how varied my days are.
08 / Perhaps what’s most admirable about you is your commitment to creating beauty in the world while also being a devoted mother and wife. How has motherhood influenced your perspective on your career and life goals?
My husband and boys always come first. I think when I was younger I was so scared to go after what I wanted, whereas now I’m more brave and able to approach it. Pre-children, it felt like the end of the world if something didn’t work out. I don’t feel the same way now.
09 / We truly admire how your career endeavors are all so creative, uniquely you, and multifaceted. What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own creative business, and what are some key lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Be brave. Don’t be afraid of approaching people. Oftentimes people have approached me and it’s their willingness that makes me want to employ them. It’s not about experience, but more about the attitude of a person that draws me to them. Something I’ve realized along the way is that I’m incapable of switching off. When it’s your own business it’s hard! I need to learn to switch off more.
10 / What are you working on at the moment, and what’s next for Willow Crossley?
I’m currently working on an installation for Monica Vinader, as well as products for my shop’s fall and winter collections. I’m also writing another book. Personally, I’m planning a trip to Indonesia with the boys and Charlie. I have projects in all different avenues!
Thanks so much for joining us for a peek into Willow Crossley’s world. We’re filled with a renewed sense of inspiration after chatting with her! Follow along with Willow on Instagram to see all of her latest creations, and head to her website to shop her products and browse her blog. For more creator interviews, check out our recent conversations with Sister Parish Design and Blakely Made. Who would you like to see us interview next? Let us know in the comments! Until next time.