Leyla Hussein, owner of BLOOM of the BLOCK has literally just turned over a new leaf in life and launched her own florist and styling business. I caught up with this inspirational talent to pick her brains about being her own boss and to hear more about her striking graphic approach to styling plants and flowers.
Tell me a bit about Bloom of the Block and the journey to launch your business?
BLOOM of the BLOCK centres on colour texture and structure. It’s a graphic and focused approach to styling with plants and flowers. Block colour, layering of colour and the simplicity of a tonal colour palette really does it for me. I originally trained in furniture design, worked as a stylist for years at The Conran Shop, then ended up doing my friend’s wedding flowers in 2013 and was instantly hooked. I felt like I’d suddenly discovered this whole new product-library of colour and texture and wanted to get involved straight away. As a result, I went freelance and worked part-time with an amazing florist, Mary Jane Vaughan for a year and a half and really loved the energy of the work. It didn’t feel too dissimilar to my previous work which surprised me, the only difference was instead of late nights getting a window display in, or setting up for a big event, it was really early mornings to get all the flowers out and set up for large weddings, events or contracts. I’m better at early mornings now at least, kinda!
If you could style any event, past or present, what would it be (no limits!)?
I would have loved to have done a room for the 2014 Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. They tasked seven architects with reawakening visitors’ sensibilities to the spaces around them – bringing to the fore the experiential qualities of architecture. My favourite was the room by Grafton Architects, it emphasised the power of simplicity done right. The structure controlled, contained and pushed light into open areas and dark corners and delivered such an impact when you walked in. This could have also worked beautifully tying in the power of light on plants – forcing growth to reach and stretch in unusual angles. I suppose the ‘no limit’ element on this would be time.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I love the designer Patricia Urquiola, she really understands how to use colour and texture and can apply it to anything, interiors,architecture, furniture, product, rugs/tile design, the lot. I look to a lot of photo-shoots of furniture and interior designers, so many of them just use colour so perfectly and inspires the palettes I want to create with flowers. And it’s a given that I’m inspired daily by so many female business owners and start-ups in all industries. So many of them are talented, creative, focused and relatable, that’s the biggest inspiration to me right now.
A hard question, but what’s your favourite plant or flower and why?
My favourite plant has to be my Monstera deliciosa! I’m in love with it. It’s such a beautiful plant, easy to care for and rewards you with new leaves every month. You get so much satisfaction from it and it just adds so much life to a room. Everyone should have one! And not so much a flower but a cut stem, a firm favourite would be Silver Brunia balls simply because it was one of the first stems that really caught my attention and got me into flowers.The block grey colour of it just blew my mind for a while – grey stuff in nature, who’d a thought it?
Any tips or challenges you’ve overcome to pass on to people who are looking to start their own business?
My biggest challenge (and mistake) was relying on myself to be the drive behind everything, especially with the stuff I hate; the admin, business and financial side is my kryptonite. No matter how good or creative you are, don’t underestimate the power of getting to grips with the business and financial side of things, without that you have no business. I left this till quite late, hoping someone else would do it, but then reality sunk in that there was no one else to do it! I’m now seeing two business mentors from Enterprise for London, which now motivates me so much. I wish i’d done that sooner, it’s a massive eye-opener and inspires your creative decisions to also be business decisions.
What are you most excited about for the year ahead?
My new shop – 6-10 Central parade, 137 Hoe st, Walthamstow, London E174RT
My new focus – I’ve been doing this part-time since 2013 but only full-time since January 2017. I’m enjoying really honing in on what I want to achieve via Bloom Of The Block and I can’t wait to knead this putty to create what i really want!
Getting married – it’s a big ol’ year this year!
Make sure to stop by Leyla’s shop to browse her beautiful collection of plants and to enquire about styling services. Beware plant and flower lovers – you won’t leave empty handed as I found out!
SHOP // 6-10 Central parade, 137 Hoe st, Walthamstow, London E174RT
WORKSHOPS // coming up. Keep eyes peeled.