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July 14, 2023 —

Love What You Do: Tomoka India

Throughout her career in the corporate world, Tomoka India knew that an artistic path lay ahead. The journey led her into floral design, where she found her passion in creating timeless designs with natural seasonal blooms
British florist Tomoka India outside her midlands flower studio
British flower bouquet inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio
Sine Fleet - contributingeditor of 91 Magazine
Sine Fleet
91 Magazine contributing editor,

Photography

Rosie Kelly
Photographer,
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Hi Tomoka, how would you describe your work?

As a floral designer, my work revolves around the art of crafting beautiful and meaningful arrangements using timeless and seasonal blooms. I believe in infusing a sense of movement into my designs, creating arrangements that flow organically and evoke a sense of natural movement. Floristry, to me, is a form of artistic expression where I strive to create unique creations. Just as each flower has its own story and I approach my work with a keen eye for detail and a dedication to bringing out the beauty of each bloom.

British florist Tomoka India outside her midlands flower studio

What inspired the idea of setting up your business?

Before I found my love for flowers, I started my career in the corporate world for almost 12 years and as cheesy as it sounds, I’ve always been searching for something else that would take me towards a life of creativity and fulfilment. Covid for many of us put things into perspective, urging me to seize the opportunity and chase after my dreams. So, in 2021 I re-trained to be a florist, embarking on a journey of flowers and artistry and eventually pursuing a creative career I’d always dreamed about.

How did your floral design career begin?

During my first year at college, I took the initiative to gain practical experience by freelancing for established florists. This invaluable hands-on experience allowed me to refine my skills and expand my knowledge in the field. Over the past two years, I had the privilege of working with some renowned florists throughout the UK, further enhancing my skills. Earlier this year, I took a leap and established my own business, using the knowledge and insights gained from my freelancing experiences. To this day, I continue to freelance for a variety of florists on a weekly basis. This ongoing collaboration serves as a constant source of inspiration, enabling me to constantly evolve and refine my own unique approach to floral design.

British florist Tomoka India outside her midlands flower studio

British flower bouquet inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I draw inspiration from all sorts of places including the ever-changing seasons, colour palettes and many of the beautiful flower varieties available to us. Freelancing for other talented florists has been a constant source of inspiration, allowing me to connect with like-minded individuals, continually expand my creative horizons, and constantly feel inspired.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as natural, relaxed elegance. My approach to floral design focuses on creating arrangements that possess a sense of timelessness and movement. By using seasonal blooms, I ensure that each creation embodies the beauty of nature and evokes a feeling of authenticity. I strive to inspire modern couples who seek an elegant and distinctive ambience for their wedding.

British flower arrangement inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

British flower bouquet inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

Are there themes or influences that run through your work?

Currently, I am greatly inspired by the interplay of colours and textures. It’s fascinating how the right combination of hues and the contrast of different textures can create a captivating floral arrangement. While I am naturally drawn to soft neutral colours, as they exude elegance and a sense of natural beauty, I also enjoy infusing warmer and brighter colours to add that extra touch of uniqueness to my designs.

I also love a simplistic and minimalistic approach to floral design. Rather than overwhelming the arrangement with complexity, I find that layering minimal touches and focusing on a single flower or a small group of flowers can create an incredibly elegant look.

Tell us about your creative process…

My work process starts by understanding the vision of my clients and their wedding day aspirations. I believe that each moment of a wedding day holds a unique story, and flowers create a truly unique environment.

Once I grasp the essence of what my clients want their special day to evoke, we collaborate on developing a colour palette. This palette sets the tone for the overall floral design, ensuring cohesiveness and a harmonious aesthetic throughout. I also take into consideration the seasonal availability of flowers, as this can greatly influence the selection and ultimately result in a truly distinctive creation.

British florist Tomoka India creating floral arrangement inside her midlands flower studio

Pots and ceramics inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studioHow did you first discover your love for what you do?

My journey towards discovering my passion for floral design was a gradual and organic process. From a young age I had a creative side, and as I delved deeper into the world of floristry, my love for it grew. Having the opportunity to work alongside so many inspiring florists during my freelancing endeavours has exposed me to different styles and approaches, broadening my horizons and helping me refine my own artistic vision.

Additionally, during my freelance work, I have discovered the remarkable beauty of British grown flowers. There is an unparalleled beauty that British flowers bring to an arrangement and I have become determined to incorporate them into my work going forward.

Could you describe a typical working day?

No two days in my working week are ever alike, and that’s what makes my job so exciting. It’s a dynamic mix of client consultations and crafting proposals, to freelancing for other florists or dedicating an entire week to creating arrangements for weddings.

In addition to my core work, I have recently embarked on the journey of growing my own flowers. During my spare time, you’ll often find me sowing seeds and nurturing the flowers. This personal venture brings me immense joy and fulfilment, knowing that they will play a special role in my future creations.

British florist Tomoka India inside her midlands flower studio

Inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

 What is the ethos behind your business?

At the core of my ethos and values is a deep desire to create floral designs that embody the beauty of nature and evoke a genuine sense of authenticity. I am committed to continuously learning and fostering relationships with fellow florists and growers, as well as expanding my knowledge of flower cultivation, to ensure that my work remains as natural and sustainable as possible.

What sort of space do you work in?

The interior of my studio features a modern rustic aesthetic, with its original wooden beam ceiling structure adding to its charm. The studio is often filled with an abundance of seasonal flowers and a mesmerising aroma, creating an atmosphere that is both calming and inspiring. On the shelves, you’ll find my collection of various ceramic vessels, glass bottles, vases, and other pieces that I have collected and sourced over time, all of which have a classic and modern feel that complement the natural movement of my work.

Tucked under a large bright window is my workbench and toolbox, filled with my secateurs, wires, tapes, and other tools that I use to bring my creative visions to life. To start each day, I put on some music, usually country and it sets the tone for a relaxed and productive day ahead.

British flower bouquet inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

British flower arrangement inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

Tell us about your business’ location…

Working out of an old family stable nestled amongst glorious open fields, my studio is a special place where I spend my time bringing my creative vision to life. With two windows offering serene views of untouched countryside, the former family stable has become my creative refuge, a place where I can escape from the world and fully immerse myself in my work.

I never had a specific timeline in mind when it came to having my own studio. In fact, I initially envisioned myself working from the comfort of my kitchen table for as long as it served its purpose. It was a realisation that unfolded as I drove past the field, which has been in my family for generations, that this stable had the potential to become a truly stunning studio. I am immensely grateful to have a space to work from, and it is a testament to the unexpected paths that life can lead us on, and the beauty that can emerge when we follow our instincts and seize the opportunities that present themselves. My studio was born out of a simple observation and a sense of possibility.

Is there an element of your work that you love the most?

The art of creating and designing with flowers is a passion that holds a special place in my heart. Pursuing a creative career as a florist has profoundly impacted my life in ways I never could have anticipated. It has unleashed a sense of freedom and self-belief that was stifled during my years in the corporate world. Each day I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose as I get to create beautiful creations for someone’s special day, and this journey has brought fulfilment and happiness into my life.

British flower arrangement inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

Inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

How valuable is the online community to your work?

The online community is an invaluable asset to my work, serving as a primary source of inspiration and connection. It is within this digital realm that I have had the opportunity to showcase my creations and share my work with others. It has provided a platform for me to discover and collaborate with talented florists, expanding my network and enriching my craft. It is through this online community that I find support, inspiration, and a sense of belonging that truly understands and appreciates the beauty of floral design.

Working as an independent – what are the joys, and what are the challenges?

Being an independent artist brings about numerous joys, as it allows me to truly express my unique artistic vision. Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in self comparison and for it to feel like everyone around you has it figured out. Trusting the timing of our journey allows us to embrace our individual growth and celebrate our own accomplishments

The floristry community is truly like no other, offering a unique sense of support and reassurance. It’s within this community that I find solace, knowing I can reach out to fellow friends who understand the intricacies of the craft.

British flower arrangement inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

What have been your business highlights so far?

Recently, I embarked on a floral workshop in France, led in collaboration by Courtney of Winsome Floral and Cara of Trille Floral. Situated just outside Paris in the picturesque Val d’Orger, the workshop took place within the timeless walls of a 17th-century château. It was an absolute privilege to learn from these two exceptional florists whom I have long admired.  Participating in this workshop was a remarkable milestone for my business, as their inspirational teaching and distinctive design aesthetic have greatly influenced my approach as I transition into crafting my own wedding creations. The experience was truly a highlight, infusing my work with a newfound sense of creativity and refinement.

What’s one thing people would be surprised you do in your job?

While many may assume that working with flowers entails simply playing with pretty blooms all day, the reality is that there is a significant amount of administrative work and logistics involved in preparing and creating floral arrangements for a wedding or event.

From meticulously organising orders to coordinating deliveries and managing timelines, the behind-the-scenes tasks require careful attention and planning. It’s important to note that the process of ordering flowers itself can be more time-consuming than anticipated, as it involves researching and selecting the perfect blooms, communicating with suppliers and growers, and ensuring availability during peak seasons.

After all the dedication, time, and meticulous organisation that goes into the aspects of preparing and creating, the reward is undoubtedly worth every moment spent.

British flower arrangement inside Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

Tomoka India's midlands flower studio

Do you have any creative hobbies?

Surprisingly, before venturing into the world of flowers, I had a side business crafting handmade lollipops. While it may seem unusual, this endeavour allowed me to dive wholeheartedly into mastering the art and craft of lollipop-making, and it remains a source of great pride for me to this day. Interestingly, the lollipops played a significant role in my journey towards floristry. I often incorporated edible flowers into my lollipops and showcased them in styled shoots, where I found myself consistently drawn to the floral arrangements created by talented florists. This business taught me the importance of experimenting with colour and texture and they even helped me develop my photography skills. When I fully embraced my floristry journey, I made the conscious decision to focus solely on flowers and discontinued making lollipops. However, if you’re curious, you can still find my creations on my Instagram account @sugarpoplollipops.

What does the next year hold for you?

In the grand scheme of my journey, I feel like I am just scratching the surface, with countless possibilities awaiting me. This year and the next hold some exciting projects that I am eager to embark upon. Alongside these, I will continue to seize freelance opportunities whenever possible, as they provide invaluable experiences and opportunities for growth. Additionally, I aspire to participate in another workshop, where I can expand my knowledge, refine my skills, and connect with fellow florists.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

Books I love: Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein. She inspires me to venture more into growing beautiful cut flowers.

Creative Heroes: While I wouldn’t necessarily label anyone as my hero, I find immense inspiration in other talented creatives. Jen, the founder of Liberty Lane, is undoubtedly one of my favourite British florists and a true source of admiration. I have yet to encounter a fellow florist who isn’t in awe of her work and remarkable business ethic. Jen’s achievements and artistic vision serve as a constant reminder of what can be accomplished through dedication and a unique approach to the craft.

Shops I love: Form Lifestyle based in Manchester has the most beautiful collection of ceramics, introducing me to makers such as Eleanor Torbati and Alice Passingham.

Inspirational places: The brief trip I took to France this year proved to be an incredibly inspiring experience, surpassing any expectations I had. Being surrounded by such a supportive community strengthened my self-belief and reaffirmed my passion for what I do.

Instagrammers I love: There are so many inspiring individuals out there but a few people who constantly inspire me are: Jen (@Libertylaneflowers), Courtney (@Winsome_floral) and Erin (@Floretflower).

tomokaindia.com

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