Clash Meets Pollenet Founder Holly Clemett
A welcome accompaniment in every aspect of life, from celebrations to mourning and everything in-between, single flowers and appropriate bouquets have become an adaptable staple for all events and occasions.
A simple assortment of flowers has the power to evoke memories, brighten your home or be a source of inspiration. That’s exactly what flowers have become to Pollent founder Holly Clemett, deviating from a creative path in school to a serious office environment, she felt that something was missing and in 2018, decided to pursue her creativity while building her own business.
Holly’s Pollenet is something new to the floristry industry, bridging the gap between beautiful arrangements you’d be proud to display in your home, and the showstopping bouquets you’d expect huge events. Her large, daring bouquets, often displayed in fashion’s favourite Anissa Kermiche vases, have become the statement themselves.
Sabrina Soormally: How did you get into floristry?
Holly Clemett: I got into floristry in 2018 - I’d always worked in very admin heavy, office based jobs and felt that I was missing creativity in life - this type of work in London can feel pretty robotic at times. I’d also been adamant for years that I wanted to work for myself, I just wasn’t sure how. I booked a few floristry courses after some Sunday’s spent at Columbia Road Market as I just loved having flowers in my flat and wanted to learn how to arrange them properly. I fell in love with the whole process and felt I could escape from the monotony of my day job when I only had to focus on making arrangements exactly how I wanted to.
SS: Have you always been creative?
HC: Yes! I was the person who avoided subjects like maths and science the whole way through school. I loved art, music, drama - basically, all the subjects where there’s no “right answer” because the answer came from me, rather than a textbook (as cheesy and cliche as that sounds).
SS: Your arrangements are very different from traditional floristry, what inspired you to start your brand?
HC: Pollenet is definitely all about having fun with flowers and allowing people to see them in a different way; I want Pollenet arrangements to spark intrigue and be a talking point in whatever room they’re in. Fortunately, nature does half of the work as the materials are already beautiful before any arranging, bouquet or installation has begun. Flowers naturally come in so many incredible, interesting colours and shapes. I love to celebrate that and sometimes contrast it with other textiles like feathers, pearls and colour dyes. I find traditional floristry pretty restrictive which interferes with the natural beauty of the flowers.
SS: Tell me about your creative process when putting together an arrangement.
HC: The initial stages of planning are always fun - lots of moodboards and bouncing ideas and inspirations around with the client. I find creating mood boards can be very therapeutic so I often do it in bed with a cup of tea! When it comes to creating the arrangements on the day of the event, I mostly start with shape. I start thinking about whether the arrangement will have hanging flowers or foliage, like orchids or amaranthus and where it should fall. Then what flowers will introduce height and focal flowers to draw in the eye. I steer clear of obvious symmetry so it’s important to create something that is well balanced; I want Pollenet arrangements to be wild, fun and beautiful without looking messy and unplanned.
SS: Why is being experimental important to you?
HC: Experimenting is fun - everything I do through Pollenet, I do because I absolutely love and enjoy it. Experimenting allows us all to experience something new, which is great! When working in a 9-5 office job, I never felt like I got the chance to experiment at all and tasks had to be done exactly by the book. With contemporary floristry, nothing really has to be done by the book because the new generation of florists are re-writing the book as we go - it’s really exciting to be a part of that.
SS: Where do you look for inspiration?
HC: It may sound cliche but we live in a constantly stimulating world of screens and online media so inspiration really does come from everywhere. In some ways we’re lucky to be able to find inspiration whilst scrolling through your phone on the tube. I always remember the way something made me feel, and I try to translate that into arrangements through colour, shape and texture. You could say my main inspiration is emotion, and the emotion that lies within a brief; I think about how it makes me feel and what would that feeling look like if it was a flower? Would it be yellow, pink, deep red? Would it be big or small? Hopefully that same emotion translates back into the flower arrangements!
SS: What have you learned about yourself since starting your own company?
HC: I’ve learnt that I have very bad road rage... but also that I am more resilient than I ever knew - I appreciate myself more since starting Pollenet.
SS: I know you had planned to hold a workshop before lockdown was announced, are interactive events something you’d like to further explore as part of your brand?
HC: Definitely! Pollenet is still so young and I absolutely love meeting the people who are buying Pollenet bunches and who want Pollenet arrangements at their events - it’s an unexplainable and amazing feeling. Throughout my first year in business (Pollenet is only 15 months old), even with a small following on social media, a lot of people had messaged me asking if I’d consider hosting a bouquet making workshop - it’s become so clear that people are the most important part of any business. These are the people who are supporting me every day, just by wanting Pollenet flowers in their homes, whether it’s on their kitchen table or on their Instagram feed; I think interactive events are a key part of learning about the people who are really making your brand what it is.
SS: How are you keeping busy during isolation?
HC: I’ve put the breaks on flower deliveries for the time being - it felt like the right thing to do. For the first few days I felt as though I was clinging on to every last bit of work when the world was telling me to stop - it’s hard to come to such an immediate halt when you’ve been trying to build momentum for so long, but there are more important things at stake and it’s important to me to do the right thing. I’ve since spent my days decluttering my flat (6 bags worth of clothing and homewares later, I admit I slightly regretted starting), making and eating many banana breads and binge watching Tiger King on Netflix. Of course, it’s also a great time to plan for the year ahead and reflect on the year gone, so there are moments of excitement, even in isolation! I’m lucky enough to live with my boyfriend, we have a sausage dog and so we can go for a nice walk in the day to get out of the house. My Mum’s a nurse who’ll be heading up a ward in Wales for patients with the virus, so any time I feel bored or frustrated at being stuck in, I think of her and the amazing people working in the NHS and count my blessings that I can stay at home - safe and healthy!
SS: What have you been particularly proud of since starting Pollenet?
HC: I feel very proud of how far I’ve come in a short space of time - I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many amazing clients. Pollenet is still a one woman band, so I’ve had to force my way through some doors and demand to be seen.
SS: What do you aim to achieve with Pollenet as a brand?
HC: I would love for Pollenet to be the “go to” florist for people and brands throughout London and beyond. I want people to think of beautiful floral arrangements and in that same second, think of Pollenet.
It’s also really important to me that Pollenet is viewed as a trustworthy, people orientated brand and so a big aim for me is to continue building Pollenet as a personable business.
SS: What can we expect from you and Pollenet for the rest of the year, and as the restrictions are lifting?
HC: You will definitely find me in a local bar in Peckham with a few bottles of wine.
As for Pollenet; I still believe that 2020 can be the year I’ve planned and worked for, regardless of the lockdown. You can expect to see Pollenet flower arrangements adorning the rooms of incredible brand events, outlandish weddings and forward-thinking fashion shoots - but also, I’ll always be the florist who wants to bring jaw-dropping flower arrangements to your home, for your front window, in your favourite vase.
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