A flower expert reveals the true meaning behind her blooms

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From pulling off petals to discover if ‘they love you or love you not’, to associating birth-month plants with personality traits, flowers are so much more than an visual pleasure; they are feelings personified. Someone who knows this more than most is Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, the CEO and co-founder of online floral-gift service Flowerbx, which offers a fashion-led curation of bouquets. In a setting inspired by the floral jewellery of Harry Winston, whose design aesthetic marries nature’s beauty with the world’s most exquisite diamonds, we spoke to Bromberg Hawkings about building her brand

Kristin Vicari

Kristin Vicari

Whitney wears Harry Winston’s Lily Cluster collection and Emerald timepiece

From trends to trimming

Prior to Flowerbx’s inception in 2015, Bromberg Hawkings was Tom Ford’s senior vice president for communications for many years — including the period when Ford was creative director at Gucci. But this career move was not a lifelong dream for Bromberg Hawkings. “People ask me, ‘Did you always want to work in flowers?’ No! Flowerbx was more of a solution to a problem that I had,” she reveals. “I was a working mother, buying clothes, beauty products and groceries online, but if I wanted flowers I had to go to a market, which I simply didn’t have the time for.”

Besides not having availability in her day to source blooms to adorn her home, Bromberg Hawkings couldn’t find the style of flowers that she desired. “When I sent floral gifts while working in fashion, I always wanted simple, top-quality bouquets, such as pink ranunculus — a symbol of admiration — rather than a mixed bunch. And these places would always do something over the top. So that’s when I had the idea to create an online brand that sent flowers how flowers grow.”

Whitney wears Harry Winston’s Sunflower collection and Forget-Me-Not collection

Kristin Vicari

I don’t want to do flowers how others do them

And that’s exactly what she did. After realising that she couldn’t run a business alongside her demanding PR role, Bromberg Hawkings left Tom Ford and opened up an office at a warehouse in Acton, west London, for her and a small team specialising in nothing but the best single stems. “I don’t know why florists always do these extravagant hotel-lobby-type displays — you can’t beat 20 peonies on your dining-room table, I don’t care how much money you have,” she says. “We reference modern design, architecture and art because I don’t want to do flowers how others do them. I want my arrangements to be sculptural and new. Our signature is single-stem bunches, which allow you to create intrigue and depth. That’s how we make our flowers truly unforgettable.”

Harry Winston’s Lily Cluster collection and Emerald timepiece

Kristin Vicari

Business in bloom

Although it took seven years of perseverance and hard work to build the elite customer base Flowerbx has today, its first significant order came within just three weeks of its opening. “The stylist Elizabeth Saltzman called me up and said, ‘Michael Kors is having a big dinner and taking over the River Café for the night. Can you provide the flowers?’ I just had to say yes and figure it all out later because we didn’t have an events team at the time.”

Whitney wears Harry Winston’s Sunflower collection, Forget Me Not collection and Emerald timepiece

Kristin Vicari

It will come as no surprise that the evening was a huge success. Word spread throughout the industry and orders started coming in thick and fast, which led to Bromberg Hawkings taking on mammoth projects, including covering the four-storey façade of private members’ club Annabel’s in London with flowers, and creating a 90-metre floral chandelier for Louis Vuitton’s Paris Fashion Week show at the Palace of Versailles.

But even though she spends her days immersed in all things floral, Bromberg Hawkings won’t describe herself as a florist. “We may deal with fresh, high-quality, seasonal stems, but we are cut to order, sustainable, and adhere to a zero-waste model. The brand, the logistics and the tech makes us unlike traditional florists,” she says

We have a powerful responsibility because we are delivering someone’s emotions

She wouldn’t dream of revealing her favourite flower, as she says it would be akin to choosing a favourite child (although she did tell us that she currently has fringed tulips in her kitchen), but she provides a wonderful insight into the passion behind her work. “Flowers are the most symbolic object you can give to someone. There are few things that can convey emotion, love and gratitude quite like flowers. So we have a really powerful responsibility because we are delivering someone else’s emotions. If someone is feeling really sad, it is our job to deliver them condolences. And I take my job very seriously because nothing lifts your spirits quite like flowers.”

Whitney wears Harry Winston’s Sunflower collection and Avenue Cherry Blossom timepiece

Kristin Vicari

Inspired by nature

In the same way, jewellery can help communicate powerful feelings, which is why we created this shoot in association with luxury jeweller Harry Winston — selecting pieces such as the intricate Forget-Me-Not necklace and radiant Sunflower bracelet. “Jewellery is one of the luxuries I still afford myself,” Bromberg Hawkings says. “I don’t buy a lot of fashion anymore because I want to be more sustainable, but jewellery lasts forever if you invest in quality items. It can go to your children and then to their children. I have many pieces of my grandmother’s jewellery, which I treasure. There’s nothing wasteful about that. It’s eternal.”

Your Birth Flower

January – Carnation and Snowdrop – Purity and Hope

February – Violet and Primrose – Loyalty and Faithfulness

March – Daffodil – Joy and New Beginnings

April – Sweet Pea and Daisy – Loyal Love and Purity

May – Lily of the Valley – Humility, Hope and Sweetness

June – Rose – Romance

July – Larkspur – Hope, Grace, Good Intentions and Positivity

August – Gladiolus and Poppy – Success and Pleasure

September – Aster and Morning Glory – Powerful Love and Affection

October – Marigold and Cosmo – Peace and Optimism

November – Chrysanthemum – Joy and Longevity

December – Narcissus – Inspiration, Vitality and Faithfulness

Discover the House of Harry Winston

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