Fifteen years ago, Toni Hawkes enrolled in a floristry course to learn the basics of flower arrangements. Little did she know it would form the later foundation for Flos Flowers, her blooming business that’s garnering the attention of Reigate dwellers and beyond.
While flowers were a presence throughout Toni’s life – her dabblings even saw her craft the arrangements at her wedding in 2017 – the transition from floral student to master was some time in the making, with other professional endeavours coming in-between. Before Flos Flowers, Toni worked as a retail visual merchandiser and went on to start her own set-design business, so it’s fair to say she’s got an eye for aesthetics.
Design is something that’s consistently been a part of Toni’s repertoire. While studying illustration at Central Saint Martins and the London College of Printing, she worked in the creative display team at Topshop’s iconic Oxford Circus store. After that, a project management role saw Toni arranging window store displays for high-end brands like Calvin Klien, Liberty and Harrods.
That was followed by freelancing as a prop maker for Shepperton Studios, where Toni honed her entrepreneurial skills and met her future business partner, with whom she established a successful prop-making company that ran for six years. But lives have a habit of changing direction, and having a son then moving to Reigate was the springboard for the creation of Flos Flowers.
Currently, the business runs from home, offering fortnightly bouquets, flowers for special events, dried arrangements and large-scale floral installations. But Toni plans to find a studio space in Reigate or Redhill once the lockdown is over so clients can visit, purchase bouquets and pop in to talk flowers for their events and installations.
Speaking about her love for floristry, Toni says: “I love that I’m able to work with entirely natural materials. I’m conscious about looking after our planet, so it’s nice to go from a profession that was incredibly wasteful at times to one where I can work with – and give back to – nature.”
It turns out that flowers are good for the mind, too. “Working with flowers is calming and therapeutic, and the reactions from my clients when they receive their arrangements make all the hard work worthwhile.”
So that fresh start in Reigate was truly a tale of new beginnings, and the mix of town and country has a special place in Toni’s heart. “Our road has a great community spirit. We feel incredibly lucky to have moved here, and I love having beautiful open green spaces and walks on our doorstep.”