MEET THE OWNER OF FORBESFIELD
If you’ve been living at Fusion Students Cardiff you may already know Beth from Forbesfield, who hosted our terrarium making workshop as part of Refresh 2020. Having started the business in 2012, Beth has grown Forbesfield from the ground up (pun intended) and turned it into the roaring success that it is today. In this Q&A we asked the owner Beth Forbes-Simpson, what the driving force was behind her starting Forbesfield and what her biggest achievement to date has been. Here’s what she had to say…
Tell us about your business?
We are a floral design and styling company working mainly in weddings and events but are all encompassing. The past year has seen us work on an increasing number of photo shoots which is more within the realms of visual merchandising and marketing. We also run workshops and classes for hobbyist flower lovers and longer courses for professional florists or people looking for a career change. Oh and we have an online shop which retails preserved flowers and some edible treats that have our floral designs embedded into them which are incredible. Phew! I think that’s about it!
What was the driving force for you to start your business?
I got made redundant from a florist company whilst 5 months pregnant and as crazy as it was, it was exactly what I needed to get out there and set up Forbesfield. I decided that I wanted to head in a new direction; I wanted to be a design orientated florist. I was, and still am, inspired by fashion and interior trends and wanted this to translate into how I worked with flowers as my medium. There was no florist in this area doing this at the time and I could see European and American floristry was really blazing a trail and I wanted to be part of that. Floristry in this country, for the most part, had been frozen in time and I wanted to innovate and progress. Nobody was working in the style that is natural to me; wild, elegant, progessive, and I just knew that if people were exposed to it they would love it. It was a wide open space, so I jumped feet first and just before my daughter’s first birthday I opened our first retail store.
What are your businesses’ core values?
Simplicity, quality and authenticity.
We always want to be innovating, putting incredible quality design out there and keeping it simple is always key to classic style rather than following trends. Following trends limits your business life span and we are in this for the long haul.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Flexibility and resourcefulness. A sound plan of attack is key but to overcome setbacks we’ve always ensured that we aren’t completely rigid in our approach and can adjust as and when necessary. Always keep your goal in sight but understand there is more than one way to achieve it. And with resourcefulness, I am talking about playing to your strengths. You’re not going to love every single moment of every day, even when you love your job, but make it more straightforward by focussing on what you are good at. It is absolutely OK, and sensible, to outsource to others what you can’t do yourself.
If you had one piece of advice for students setting out their own business, what would it be?
Think critically. It’s so easy to get carried away on your beautiful dream of a successful business that you can forget to think critically about your plans. Find your weaknesses and pain points and work hard on them. Ask yourself how you can improve your skills, product or offering and don’t stop educating yourself. And never confuse yourself with your client, when you have clients with big budgets and deep pockets it can be easy for your ego to take over. Don’t let it happen – it’s a recipe for disaster.
Are there any other brands within your sector that you are following at the moment?
I love what The Goodwash Company is doing right now. Their brand is so strong and present and their products are wonderful. More than that, they are built as a social enterprise and are achieving amazing things for humans and animals through conscious consuming and increasing opportunities for disadvantaged demographics. Then there’s Vale Venetian who we worked as a stylist for on a marketing shoot recently. They are a surface design company and what they are doing is staggering! Again the brand is beautiful, but the product is remarkable. They work in the residential and commercial sector and their ethos rings true to me. They base their work on the idea of beautiful environments making better work living conditions and better work and living conditions make happier, more contented human beings. I am completely on board with that!
What has your biggest achievement been so far?
In all honesty probably just getting this business to where it is now from nothing. I had zero capital to invest, I had a baby on my hip and some skills for floral design and a vision. I begged and borrowed for my first shop fit and props, got a line of credit for my first flower buy from my wholesaler and off I went. Blissfully ignorant in many ways which was to my advantage as I didn’t realise it was crazy to open a business with a little one in tow but I always believed in my ability and my vision of what I wanted Forbesfield to be. I worked hard to plug gaps in my knowledge and am still educating myself every day. All the big weddings, flowers for famouses and weddings overseas are great, but the biggest achievement is knowing that I made this business I love from scratch.
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