Today we’d like to introduce you to Clare Ashbrook.
Clare, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m the owner of Smith + Lily Floral Design a boutique flower studio in Sherman Oaks. Smith is my mother’s maiden name, Lily is my daughter’s name.
I was born and raised in a sleepy village in the North of England deep in the English countryside; country lanes and rolling hills. I grew up surrounded by seasonal flowers and the ever present expertise of my mother – a keen gardener always willing to experiment with plantings, colors and design. Following a fifteen year career in TV production in the UK, I moved to Los Angeles with my three kids and husband. We came for two years and are still here ten years later!
I’ve always grown flowers for my own home and two years ago I made the decision to take it one step further; I enrolled in 1-1 flower workshops and gained as much floristry experience as I could working with experienced, (generous with their advice and time) LA florists. I combined my love of flowers, people and the desire to run my own business and Smith + Lily was launched.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
On the whole it’s been a smoothish path.I am still developing my cutting garden and it can be very much trial and error, transfering my knowledge of English gardens and what grows there to what can be a very hot Valley climate can be challenging. It also took me a minute to get over my “imposter syndrome” which has subsided mainly due to experience and reflecting on how far I’ve come as well as setting goals for the future. Running my own business has been a steep learning curve but I’ve been suprised how much I’ve enjoyed that side of it. If I could give any hints it would be don’t be afraid to ask for advice, get feedback and expert opinions with your marketing, identity and pricing. Stick to your game plan and be true to your gut feelings re: design and the essence of what YOU want to achieve.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Smith + Lily Floral Design – what should we know?
I use favorites from our cutting garden combined with seasonal flowers from the LA Flower Market to design English garden inspired florals for parties, events, home and business accounts and weddings. I also offer small group seasonal workshops which is a personal and lovely way of getting to know our clients and passing on the flower knowledge. A big part of my business is the relationships I have with our clients from the brands like Seedlip USA to the client who needs flowers for a party or home to the wedding couple looking for something a little different with a splash of English countryside. The joy of collaborating, advising, creating and seeing the final product is extremely rewarding. Looking forward, I’m excited to be working with clients on home and business accounts as well as making some time to offer more group workshops at the studio.
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
I personally feel inspired and informed by podcasts, from a wide range of successful women (I particularly love the “Second Life” Podcast with Hilary Kerr). Building relationships with other women business owners and supporting each other allows for community over competition and can allow for us all to grow professionally and personally.
- Website: www.smithandlily.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @smithandlily
Julie Shuford Photography, Seedlip USA