Anna Potter stumbled upon floristry after finishing a degree in Fine Art. “It made perfect sense to be constantly creating with my hands and connected with my inherent love of nature,” she says. Based in the northern town of Sheffield in England, she opened the florist shop Swallows & Damsons in 2008 after working for two other leading florists in the area. When she began to feel frustrated, Anna knew it was time to go out on her own. “I had wild - literally - ideas that weren’t the correct way of doing things,” she says. Since opening her shop and studio, Anna creates arrangements for weddings and events, and has gained a huge online following. “Instagram has been the most wonderful platform to share my work,” she says. “It combines my favourite things - flowers and photography. There is an incredible network of florists on there which I find to be so inspiring and encouraging.”
Which five words best describe you? Creative, passionate, gentle, wild, authentic.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started working in a florist that also specialised in plants and garden design. It was invaluable to get not only technical instruction but to also learn more about horticulture too. This really inspired me to work in a more natural way so that when I eventually opened up my own shop I had a clear style in mind, that and my love for antiques and curiosities combined was something a little different for Sheffield at the time.
What’s the best lesson you've learnt along the way? The best lesson I have learnt was spoken by a good friend. Run your own race.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Having two small children and my own business - and still being alive.
What’s been your best decision? Sticking at being a shop. It’s so tempting when you see other florists working from studios, solely providing flowers for events and weddings. Having a shop is hard work. Re-stocking every day, always having to be open at certain times, etc. But it also means we are constantly getting seasonal, fresh produce, we get to see couples that get married coming back for birthdays, anniversaries, births - it’s a real privilege getting to know people and hearing their stories.
Who inspires you? Saipua [interview] was the first florist to make me really truly believe in what I was doing - that conventional floristry wasn’t the only way or the correct way. She still totally pushes boundaries and blows my mind with her incredible arrangements and commitment to the cause.
What are you passionate about? Nature. It’s an absolute miracle. Design, innovation and the point where something creative connects with your soul.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Someone whose ideas changed the world - like Albert Einstein. I could bury myself in his quotes.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I think to just to continue doing what I do - to keep being inspired and to follow my gut is all I could hope for.
What are you reading? The Surprising life of Constance Spry by Sue Shepherd.