Some of the poems would also have songs at the bottom that I was to add to an ever-expanding mixtape he was making for me. After about six months, Mert stopped sending songs - turns out he ran out of suggestions! I was more than a little upset!
Reading that, it may be hard to believe that I consider myself the sentimental one. I have over a dozen scrapbooks, collecting Mert’s poems - alongside little drawings - as well as mementos of our travels, from plane tickets to the packaging of the bag of flour I used to make cookies for us once while we were away together!
Whilst living in Turkey in 2016 - in the small seaside town of Didim - I began selling some of the creative projects I undertook. Flowers were not yet my main focus, I was also selling paintings and sculpture. Meanwhile, Mert was working as an operations manager, supervising roughly 50 people!
By the end of 2018, we realised that the future we wanted together was not going to be found in Turkey and made the tough decision to move to the UK, where I started to give all my attention to my dried and artificial flower arranging, founding Hidden Botanics in Slough in January of 2019. I was lucky, there wasn’t anyone else really doing the style of arrangements I was - other businesses on Etsy were very focussed on more traditional aesthetic, whereas I work in a more modern and contemporary boho style, taking inspiration for my distinct floristry from Japandi and minimalist trends. I believe this, as well as my arrangements being significantly more affordable to the alternatives that were out there, is what helped Hidden Botanics stand out and establish itself.
Poor Mert! Having to put up with flowers all over our one bedroom apartment - in the bed, under the bed, over the countertops. We had a washing machine in a cupboard that was always covered in them, and our tiny bathroom was never without flowers drying in it!
One of the things Mert and I had bonded over was our love to travel, and it was after a trip to Cambridge that Mert’s eye was caught by some gypsophila flowers (also known as “baby’s-breath”), and, liking how they looked, he bought them for me. I made Hidden Botanics’ first custom order crown using those gypsophila (I remember it was raining, so I had to dry them in the bathroom), and it remains one of our best selling items, even almost three years later!
Once Hidden Botanics started to develop and get great reviews, Mert saw its potential and quit his job only four months after we moved to Slough to help me run the business. I’ve always been more design-orientated, and even when making a product we already produce I try to approach it with a fresh mind, inspired as if putting the flowers together for the first time! No matter how many times we’ve made something before, you’re always making that specific piece for just one person. Mert’s experiences lie more in management, so he works on that side - as well as the packaging of orders (although even if he didn’t initially believe he could, he does help out with putting some orders together - don’t let him fool you, he’s better than he thinks!). Right now, as both a married couple and business partners, it is important that we separate our work lives from our personal lives. This is not something we always manage perfectly, but we’re learning!
In 2021, as Hidden Botanics had continued to grow and grow, we moved from Slough to Norwich, and it’s bizarre to think that less than three years ago we were working out of our small flat but now we oversee a 300 square meter design studio! Just looking at our range of bouquets, we have probably made and sold around 40,000 at this point - to customers all around the world!
If you were to tell us back then all that we and Hidden Botanics would go on to achieve we would hardly believe you. This was our dream! Having accomplished so much, all we want now is to continue to do the best we can to make people happy with our flowers! It’s hard to judge the value of a creative work, but when people write to us to say that we exceeded their expectations, it’s so touching and makes me so overjoyed.
A large majority of the orders we make are for weddings, and it’s so lovely when people tell us how much they adore their order - it’s always nice to know that you’ve had a positive impact, especially if it’s towards so many people’s happiest day!
There’s still so much more we want to do. As a creative I’m always evolving, and creating new things really excites me. As well as weddings, I want to expand the horizons of Hidden Botanics, to learn more about what I can do and try new things! I love to design, and often when Mert and I want to buy something we struggle to find it, and to cater to our own needs we have to make a lot of things for ourselves, or order something custom from a small business.
As vegans for the past two years, the sustainability of Hidden Botanics is very important to us, the more we become self-aware and self-conscious, the more we learn about our impact on the world around us and the environment and think about what it is we can do. Even though we left Turkey years ago, we continue to support farmers back there, investing in them to grow a large portion of the flowers we use in our products. We are steadily working towards our goal of 100% sustainability, and are doing our best to control the growing process as much as we can whilst supporting farmers back in Turkey.
I hope that when people look at the things we create, they feel calm. I want to continue to make things that will be pleasing to look at and make people feel one with nature. Our designs aren’t as overcrowded as the traditional styles I like to stay away from as I believe a truly beautiful piece isn’t in your face, it’s more like a good companion.
I’ve learnt so much over the past three years. Running Hidden Botanics has done so much to help me grow as a person. It has taught me to prioritise what is really important to me, as well as multitasking, time management, and working to a deadline! It still helps me learn new things every day.
Hidden Botanics has accomplished more than I ever dreamed it would, and now I have even more goals I want to achieve. I want to start making online educational videos teaching others about my kind of floristry, as well as coffee table books talking about, and with photos, of the beautiful flowers we use.
Knowing how far we’ve come, and how much further we intend to go, I can’t help but be excited for what the future holds!
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Lauren - United Kingdom