Sunderland Under The Ivy

Get to Know Sunderland-based Business: Under The Ivy Flowers

“I have always been a creative person, but for the longest time, I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life,” says florist Rebecca Taylor, founder of Under The Ivy, as she chats to Caroline Dask about all things flowers…

Isn’t it wonderful how sometimes the most simple things in life can bring so much joy? A good book on a rainy day, a cup of coffee with a friend, a bouquet of gorgeous flowers from that special someone. The world is full of simple moments that have the power to lift the mood and bring a smile to our faces.

Coming across Under The Ivy quite accidentally, I was in one of my simple yet joyful moments, catching up with what my friends are up to on their social media platforms while sipping a delicious coffee.

Rebecca’s business caught my eye for three very simple reasons – the appealing colour schemes of her flowers, the creativity that is so evident from the first glimpse and the local Sunderland support and engagement that is very present in everything Under The Ivy does.

Sunderland Under The Ivy

While chatting with Rebecca, we dive deep into how it all started, how it’s going and what the future holds…

What was your life before Under The Ivy?

Before Under The Ivy, I was feeling a little confused. I wasn’t entirely sure what direction I wanted to go in after having left Sixth Form. It was definitely a time of self-discovery, as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be doing moving forward.

I’ve always been a creative person, I just hadn’t necessarily found my talent or my niche. Eventually, I arrived at a floristry college, where it all began.

I set up my business in 2019, six months before COVID-19 hit. I can’t say I had much of an idea of what I was doing, or where it was going, I just knew that I wanted to give Under The Ivy a shot. It was now or never.

What was it like, starting Under The Ivy in Sunderland right before the COVID-19 pandemic?

Well, initially there was panic, but then I started using that time to my advantage, I used it to grow my social media presence. Even now, I use Instagram heavily for promoting and keeping a nice catalogue of my work.

Even though I couldn’t necessarily work the way that I would normally, I was constantly thinking of ways to make my online presence entertaining. And it worked!

I grew quite a bit of an audience and when I look back, I’m really glad I didn’t give up. I continued to post daily and think about what kind of content I was making, and so once I reopened after COVID-19, I noticed I had an influx of people who enjoyed what I did.

Can you take us through a typical day in your life as the owner of Under The Ivy in Sunderland?

Sunderland Under The Ivy

So, I would say that no two days are the same. But a typical day would probably start with an early morning. I usually head to my local market and then I will select the flowers for whatever kind of orders I have on for that day. I’ll get to have a good browse around the market, which is always really inspiring. I’ll pick out all of the flowers that I need and then from there, I’ll head back to my workshop.

Then I’ll begin to condition the flowers. So, that involves looking after the flowers and getting them into fresh water. And then I begin to look through the orders that I’ve got on and I’ll get creative. Later on, I will head out as I do local deliveries.

I also have collections from the workshop. So customers will come down and see me. Usually, I’ll take a wedding call or a project call, depending on what it is I have going on at the time. I will also attempt to keep up with social media, I’ll try to take photos and a little bit of content throughout the day.

Then I usually finish around 6 pm and attempt to wind down, which I find quite difficult working for myself. But I am trying.

Running a business on your own can be quite demanding. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

It’s something that I struggle with. However, it’s something that I’m trying to get better at. I made a goal for myself this year to try and distinguish those boundaries a little bit and make them a bit clearer.

I try and step away from the phone because a lot of the work that I do is social media-led in terms of advertising etc. So, I’m constantly on my phone and because I take orders on my phone, I do spend a lot of time checking in on all of that. But I’m just really trying to set clear boundaries.

I think I just have to get a hold of time management, which is something that I find particularly difficult in my line of work because no two days are the same. Some days are busier, some days are quieter, some days I’ve got events on, some days I don’t. It’s hard to make a routine because every day can be manoeuvred a little bit.

If you had to describe the theme of your flower arrangements, what would you say?

Sunderland Under The Ivy

I would say that my style is whimsical, colourful, and very fun! I want my flowers to make someone feel good. That’s what flowers are supposed to do.

And a lot of my feedback from customers and people who are looking at the social media side of things is like: ‘Oh my God, your stories cheer me up’ and that’s the energy I want people to give with Under The Ivy.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your floral designs? Are there specific places, experiences, or artists that influence your work?

As a person, I’m very colourful. I like a lot of colour, which is also reflected in my work. I take a lot of inspiration from the music that I’m listening to, and the things that I enjoy and see daily.

My inspiration comes from something as simple as crockery, like a plate or a dish, and it’ll have a lovely colourway on it or some kind of pattern. It’ll just be something that sticks with me and stays in my mind.

I don’t think that I take a lot of inspiration from actual flower designs. I tend to take inspiration from what’s around me.

What do you think is the best unconventional Valentine’s Day flower?

I’m going to say Ranunculus. It’s also one of my favourite flowers. They almost look like peonies and they’re just such a beautiful flower. They’re also very romantic. I’m currently working on some Valentine’s flowers and I keep going back to Ranunculus.

You are based in Sunderland. How does Under the Ivy engage with the local community?

Sunderland Under The Ivy

I’m a very sociable person, so I like to see people. Workshops have become a staple in my business. Every Christmas I get out there and I do multiple Christmas wreath workshops.

I usually do anywhere between four to six events each Christmas. And I’m lucky enough to meet some lovely local business owners along the way. There’s a lovely girl, Hannah and she runs Flamingo Café and Ruhe Café. So, she lets me back every year to go and take over a space and host brief workshops there at Christmas time.

I do pop-up events too. There’s a lovely coffee shop in the town called The Little Shop. That’s where I do my Christmas pop-up events, where I get to socialise with people. So, interacting with the Sunderland community is definitely a big part of Under The Ivy.

What is the proudest moment in your business journey so far?

My proudest moment, I would say, is myself and two other ladies have managed to create a community and we run networking events under the name ‘Babes In Business’. We formed this lovely community in the North East of women who are local business owners and women who are thinking about setting up businesses. We’ve hosted events for the past couple of years now.

When we get together, we all just chat and form connections, talk about business, and support each other. I’m really proud of that. Me setting up Under The Ivy has allowed me to be a part of something like that, which is a bit surreal.

When I was setting up Under The Ivy in Sunderland, I didn’t have any people in my life who could help me navigate the business side of it. Of course, I had support from my family and friends, but I didn’t necessarily have people to speak to who could help me kickstart a business and show me the ropes.

So, myself, Hannah from Flamingo Cafè and Charlotte from North East Female Empowerment have joined forces together to create ‘Babes In Business’. And now we’ve given these women a place to have friendships, connections and advice.

Where do you see yourself and Under The Ivy in the next few years?

In the next few years, I can only hope that Under The Ivy will have its own premises. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of because at the moment I work from my workshop at home. For now, it works brilliantly, and it’s part of the charm.

But I think a little bit further afield, I would love to have my own Under The Ivy shop in Sunderland, where my customers could actually come and get a good look around. I’d like for it to be a community space as well. Hopefully, one day!