Sheffield florist provides flowers for local residents and top magazine fashion shoots
When Anna Potter opened her little flower shop in the heart of Sheffield’s antiques quarter 11 years ago, one of her main aims was to make it an integral part of the local community.
Swallows and Damsons is certainly that but, thanks to the power of social media, it has also found world-wide fame for its adventurous approach to arrangements.
With over 180,000 followers on Instagram, Anna is one of the key global influencers in a new wave of floral art and design.
Many of her customers are unaware that while she provides flowers for celebrations, commiserations and romantic occasions, she also creates “floral content” for magazine and fashion shoots with clients including Gucci, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Decoration and Architectural Digest.
She is also the author of a newly-published book “The Flower Fix”, an inspirational guide that reveals how to make 26 arrangements in her own trademark “free and natural” style.
The stunning pictures are by her friend and collaborator India Hobson, a well-known photographer who is also based in Sheffield
“It is incredible, especially as being a florist wasn’t part of my plan, ” said Anna, who studied Fine Art at university in Sheffield.
“When I graduated in 2004, most floristry was quite structured. It wasn’t young and edgy like it is now. I’d never thought of doing it at all.
“I just knew I didn’t want a job where I had to sit still for long periods and I wanted to do something creative. I wanted to make art.”
A friend who worked in a florist’s shop persuaded her to give it a try.
“She thought I would love it and I did. Within two weeks I knew that it was the perfect fit for me. It ticked all the boxes,” said Anna, who went on to launch her own business in 2008.
She is best known for a wild and inventive approach to arrangements and installations, and also cites Constance Spry as one of role models.
Spry opened her first shop in 1929 when flowers were a luxury, arrangements were formal and vessels were almost always china or glass vases.
She caused a sensation with a display of hedgerow flowers, leaves and berries in an Old Bond Street perfumery and her signature style was born.
She also adored unusual containers, which included pots, pans and the humble jam jar.
“Constance Spry democratised flower arranging and she is one of the reasons why I wanted to open my own shop. It meant that I didn’t have to work within anyone else’s rules,” said Anna.
Spry also wrote books and Anna has followed suit, though her motivation was not just to share ideas but to have a slower, long-lasting alternative to the breakneck speed and transitory nature of social media.
“I love the tangible aspect of books as a change from the digital world,” she said.