Discover Cassandra King, the champion of faux florals
In case you haven’t noticed, faux florals and dried flowers are having a bit of a come back. But this certainly isn’t news for Cassandra King who has been championing the use of quality faux florals in design for years. A florist and stylist, she recently set up Immortal Botanica, a uniquely different new brand of fearless and beautiful designs using florals that never die.
We love Cassandra’s designs (you can swoon over them on her Instagram page) and her creative approach to styling for shoots, weddings and events. We were even happier when we discovered that Cass lives down the road from us in West London and had recently opened a shop, making her faux florals accessible for people to buy for their homes. The shop itself is a rich cornucopia of visual treats made up of flowers, fabrics and scents (she shares it with print designer Rebecca Mills) and together they have created just the sort of space that the High Street is crying out for. Both Cassandra and Rebecca are always around and able to provide tips on how to style their products. We took a couple of our own vases along and they helped us choose just the right blooms to fill them with. Service doesn’t get much more personal than that. You’ll find yourself being swept along with Cassandra’s passion about the possibilities for everlasting flowers and leave the shop as an absolute convert. We loved sitting down with her and having a natter, finding out about her approach to styling and the launch of her online shop. Read on to discover more.
Tell us a bit about you; what’s your background?
I had a fairly eccentric childhood, although I didn’t realise it at the time. My Mother was a textile designer and my Father in the music biz, managing bands like The Clash, Pink Floyd and Ian Dury & The Blockheads. It was certainly a creative environment and I’m sure it paid some part in directing me toward photography which I initially studied at art school, before later going into film and television.
What are your highlights when you worked in TV?
I worked as a Casting Director, predominantly in comedy. My first solo gig was casting the television series Horrible Histories for the BBC. I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved as it was a struggle convincing great comedians to audition for what was essentially a kids show. It went on to become the first children’s show to win The Comedy Awards (as well as multi Baftas) and I love that it is still watched and loved today, including by my 10 year old daughter.
Where did your interest in interior design stem from?
It’ll probably sound pretentious, but I sort think it was always part of me. Or perhaps taught by my Mother. Our house was very bohemian and my Mum has an incredible eye but I remember personally designing my bedroom space as a young child aged about 8 and realising not everyone else did that or understood why I wanted to talk about paint colours so much! Later, doing my photography degree and flat sharing with other creative people in London, it was just part of our world. We celebrated the spaces we lived in as a way of expressing ourselves I guess…
You lived in Hollywood working in production alongside film director David Lynch, what was that experience like?
Really incredible. It was a fantastic opportunity. I was 24 and believed I could do anything. I accepted the job on the condition I knew how to drive and had to do a crash course in 2 weeks before I flew out. My first solo driving experience was driving the production hire car on the LA freeway! I’ll admit I had a couple of scrapes – and my nickname became Crashy Cassy… I could never ‘fess up to the fact it was because I’d only just passed my test. I initially started as an assistant on the shoot and was asked to stay on by David through post production. I met some extraordinary people and had some amazing experiences, from sleeping in Patricia Arquette’s trailer after being lost and stranded in the desert after a night shoot, to having a rattlesnake shot and skinned for me to take home by David (the rattlesnake was about to attack!).
How did you make the transition from casting to styling to floristry?
For me, styling and floristry kind of go hand in hand. A room without florals or plants somehow seems a little sad. So whilst I was casting I guess I was still practicing the other. I loved casting but ultimately it wasn’t visual enough for me. When I took maternity leave after having my daughter, I took a floristry course. I had an amazing teacher who took me to one side and convinced me I had something and to go for it. I was asked to do weddings, help people with their homes – and suddenly I realised I was actually making money from it. I’ve never looked back. It’s really corny, but it’s what I feel I’m meant to do.
How would you describe your style?
I always find this question hard. One interviewer once described me as having a “signature style of blending elegant florals, bold colours with a dash of whimsy and a touch of fairy-tale beauty.” I really liked that description -it definitely appealed to my vanity! I’d say there is definitely a stylised edge to my work. I like things to have a twist, be re-imagined somehow.
As a floral artist you’ve worked on many wonderful events and weddings, can you share a few highlights with us?
I’ve been super lucky and worked with some amazing couples. Last summer I worked on an imaginative and creative wedding for singer songwriters and producers James Newman and Cleo Tighe. They were wonderful as they just trusted us. They had an incredibly unique style, and I was able to do a lot of stuff I wouldn’t always get away with. Every florists dream to be honest. It was pretty surreal seeing my bouquet on the gossip pages of The Sun that week – even if the story accompanying the image didn’t quite hold a whole lot of truths!
How can companies work with you to create a floral installation to promote their brand?
Send me a message and let’s chat! I am pretty obsessed about this arm of the business. Retail (especially since Covid 19) has changed dramatically. The world of the faceless corporate or high street chain is starting to no longer have a place in our world. We are celebrating being different again, standing out from the crowd and creating memorable, interactive experiences for the consumer. Social media has also become an integral part of marketing for businesses – big or small – and creating installations that lend themselves to this sort of image sharing can be incredibly powerful.
When did you set up Immortal Botanica?
Immortal Botanica officially started its e-commerce presence this month (June ‘20)…but its been part of my business from the outset really. I want to offer style led everlasting florals (faux, preserved and dried) that look beautiful in a design led home, retail or corporate space. As well as offering mind-blowingly realist faux florals it’s sometimes also about creating florals that are led by interior trends and fashion etc., so some of my designs are hand painted or incorporate other non floral elements.
How important is Instagram in building your audience?
Instagram is incredibly important. It’s a portfolio of my work really. And it’s allowed me to reach people worldwide which is extraordinary. I’m a bit slap dash with it though. You should be far more consistent than I am … need to sort that out!
What made you specialise in faux florals?
Working on sets with hot lights and fresh florals is not a great combo. I loved what you could do with faux florals instead… chuck them in bags or suitcases, bend them this way and that … and of course they last for ever. I became very frustrated that they were synonymous with bad taste and yucky decor when they just didn’t need to be. I’ve been championing them for 5 years now and I’ve seen the most incredible changes. There are some truly incredible faux flowers out there now. As well as some very bad ones! What I know is that a company making a great hydrangea won’t always make the best rose. For me it’s important that I know the market really well so I can offer the very best for my clients.
You recently made the big move to setting up a presence on the high street. What’s that experience been like?
Amazing! Until Coronavirus of course! But we are set to reopen again 2nd July. And honestly can’t wait. Meeting customers and sharing the work-space with other creatives has been an amazing experience. It’s become a lovely local hub and Becky, Sara and I cheesily call it our ‘happy place’.
You’ve designed your own perfume. How important is scent in creating an experience?
Our retail space is designed to be a really immersive experience. Part studio, part meet space, part shop. Scent is incredibly important to memory and our well being etc – and obviously that is missing selling everlasting flowers. So I designed a smell that works for our brands. Its really taken off. Once smelt people have wanted to buy and its lovely knowing people love it and come back again for more.
When you’re not working what are your favourite things to do?
Being with my lovely family and hanging out with friends. Art, film, cooking… I’m sort of always working though, because I love it!
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