I’m Kathryn Dacre, a 33 year old woman from Reading. I am a heart-led thinker, and my heart sees in full glorious colour so is happiest working outside in beautiful nature. In my floristry I am led by the seasons, seeing flowers as a sensory language to be appreciated at every stage of their life cycle.
I arrived by a topsy-turvy career path. I had spent over 10 years in a cycle of introduction and resignation from an array of sectors including retail, healthcare and education (plus an extremely brief and ill-judged encounter with recruitment). I would dive into something with complete passion and then be extremely disappointed when I felt my enthusiasm waning. With my heart out of ideas on how to remain inspired in a job that my head and gut told me I was ‘good’ at or was ‘useful’ so therefore should be doing, I became disconnected and miserable.
The first time in my life that I set foot in a florist’s shop was in response to a part-time job advert on the door at Vendela Rose in Tilehurst. On my trial morning, florist Caroline asked, “Can you make me a hand-tied please?” Having no idea what that was, I replied sunnily, “I can if you tell me what it is and how to do it.” Caroline & Sara (dubbed affectionately my Flower Queens) weighed up my initially hopeless flower handling with my easy ability to talk to anyone who walked through their door and decided they’d rather train someone in floristry than customer service. My Flower Queens used their experience and patience to teach me traditional floristry skills and tolerated me learning flower names by prancing around repeating them like spells from Harry Potter… “Aspideeestra pitto-SPORUM!”. I fell in love with the magical world of flowers.
In my 3rd year working at the shop I found myself embedded once again in those familiar negative thought patterns. I flip-flopped between growing rage at myself for how I was feeling and frustration at tangible problems like the amount of waste produced and the reliance on harmful synthetics like floral foam (at odds with how I tried to conduct home life). I was run down from a fast-paced busy workload and isolated from often working alone in the shop. Add to that a string of personal loss and I found myself in a state of deep depression, resulting in multiple suicide attempts. From rock bottom, there was only one way to go. I turned my work ethic to my mental health and committed to understanding my depression and how to prevent it from dominating my life. I had incredible support from my family, friends, work, NHS staff & my therapist of several years and what it boiled down to was eventually incredibly simple. Depression wasn’t telling me to end my life, it was asking me to have a rest and put myself first. I could see clearly what was right for me. Covid struck the planet, but I felt calm, strong, positive and ready to take ownership and joy in my life. I felt loyalty to the shop, but I knew I needed to work for myself and have the freedom to explore my own floristry style, pace and environmental solutions.
I will be forever grateful to those Flower Queens at Vendela Rose for starting me out in a career where I could combine all the bits I loved about my previous work in one passion project led by my love of colourful nature.