Iconic British Florist Jane Packer – Interview With Gary Wallis, CEO & Co-Founder
By olleb 0 on Iconic British Florist Jane Packer – Interview With Gary Wallis, CEO & Co-Founder19 min read
Iconic British florist, Jane Packer, is known as a pioneer in their field, and for their exquisite floral arrangements and innovative flower hatboxes, not to mention fantastic customer service. In The Diamond Store Office, we’re huge fans of their stunning flowers for all our special occasions. Read our interview with Gary Wallis, their CEO and Co-Founder, to discover more.
1. Tell us, first of all, how did the Jane Packer story begin? Our readers may or may not know that sadly Jane Packer herself is no longer with us, but her legacy in floristry remains strong.
“Jane Packer began in 1982 when she opened a flower store in St. Christopher’s Place in the heart of London. With her fresh and innovative approach, Jane stood up to conventional and conservative ideas and quickly rose to the forefront of modern floral design, advocating that ‘flowers are as exciting and accessible as fashion and interior design’.
“Jane’s work was also loved internationally, attracting celebrities, movie and fashion moguls. She is widely recognised as one of the top floral designers in the world, having authored 15 books in several languages. Jane died young in 2011, but her avant-garde style lives on through the team that she built.”
2. What is your role within Jane Packer, and did you always have a keen interest in floristry?
“Jane and I were in the early stages of a relationship when she first started and originally I just wanted to help her in any way that I could, but as time moved on, I got closer and closer to the business, eventually taking on the administrative role. Jane’s creativity and energy were infectious and our skill sets really complemented each other.”
3. The name Jane Packer is a pioneer in floristry. For instance, one of the first to do nationwide delivery. How has the business evolved since then?
“Yes, we certainly were one of the first independent florists to launch an online store and deliver nationwide, that was back in 2004. Prior to that, we had opened in Tokyo, Seoul and New York, so our reach was spreading internationally.
“Digital transformation is currently the watchword and our customers seem to prefer to interact with us almost entirely through our online presence. This provides us with opportunities to develop and deliver other related products such as flower based fragrance and body care, which we are currently working on.”
4. Jane Packer is known as an iconic British florist and your flowers are synonymous with luxury. Could you tell us more about that?
“Yes, we are known as a luxury brand, but this has more to do with our determination to deliver a superior experience in everything that we do rather than a decision to place ourselves at a certain position in the marketplace. The best quality flowers, creative design, great customer service are what our customers expect and automatically pitches us at a certain level.”
5. What are the top 3 flowers that people send to their loved ones to celebrate special occasions?
“Roses, peonies, hydrangea… All depending on the season.”
6. Jane Packer also design breathtaking, creative floral installations for events and spaces. Could you perhaps give us an example, and tell us where the inspiration came from?
“From the word go, we were lucky enough to work with some amazing clients at beautiful venues, but our philosophy is that a small flower arrangement in the right container can contribute more to a room than the sum of its parts.
“In other words, impact can often be achieved in subtle ways through thoughtfulness and consideration of the space. There are so many factors that can inspire; the décor, the nature of the event, the season, the personality of the client… and more!”
7. What is the story behind your famous hat box, and is it still a best-selling gift?
“The hat box came to us as an experiment that we did back in 2004 with containers that were not commonly used for flowers. It was an immediate success and continues to be so. We love re-inventing it each season with new design twists.”
8. What do you see on the horizon for floral trends in 2023?
“There is definitely a move toward using interesting foliage and less flowers in bouquets and arrangements and we expect to see this continuing into next year. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that stems of foliage are less expensive than flowers, when very often the opposite is true!”
9. We were sad to see your iconic Marylebone store close. How do our readers shop with you?
“Closing the Marylebone store was a very difficult decision to make. During the pandemic, all of our business necessarily moved online, over the phone or through email. We already had a very large studio in West London, so it was natural for us to work from there.
“After the pandemic, our customers were so used to interacting with us this way that they never returned to visiting the shop – this is the new reality for us and we had to accept it and find new ways to reach our clients. Having said that, after 40 years in Marylebone, it was heart-breaking to leave.”
10. Finally a personal question… what is your favourite flower and why?
“I don’t really have a favourite. The great thing about working with flowers is that the changing seasons always bring in new flowers and varieties. The first tulips in early spring, peonies making an appearance for such a short time in summer, ranunculas season starting after that… They are all my favourites at different times of year.”
How to order your beautiful Jane Packer flowers
A huge thanks to Gary Wallis for this fascinating interview!