Door wreaths are the newest UK interiors trend
- Credit: Archant
The American love of decorating front doors has hopped the Atlantic to the UK, and Chester’s The Big Door Wreath Company was among those leading the charge
Twelve years ago Alison visited Boston in the USA, for a wedding, and was impressed by the way that Boston residents had all decorated their front doors for Autumn.
“It was incredible, really amazing, and there was no-one doing it here,” she says. “So I just thought I would start making my own.”
It began for Alison around four years ago, when planning a Hallowe’en party for her son. It seemed to her that a huge themed wreath for the front door was precisely what was needed, but she could find nothing in the shops or online in the UK, so decided to solve the problem by constructing her own.
“I bought loads of skulls and Hallowe’en bits and really went to town. After that I made my own Christmas wreath and then a spring wreath. Where we live in Chester we’re close to the Racecourse and lots of dogwalkers come past. I would always have a huge wreath on my door and people started knocking to ask where I had bought it. I started taking orders just from this, and then a friend suggested I set up a page on Etsy – it’s a retail website a little like eBay, but for crafty types. You can find wonderful, unusual gifts, things for the home, fashion and jewellery on there. It’s perfect for someone like me, who is creative but not too business-like. “
Alison’s wreaths are rather jaw-droppingly beautiful, eye-catching from afar and just packed with colour and texture close-up. And they are big – there is nothing of the delicate flower about her work. Each one is constructed from dozens of faux flowers, carefully chosen by Alison for their quality – after all, a big door wreath needs to last and last, holding its colour and its impact for considerable time.
“I have had no floristry or wreath-making training,” she laughs when I ask, “I used to work as a barmaid in the local pub. I have always been creative though. I love interior design and adore wallpapering and painting. Nothing in my house stays the same way for long before I start re-doing it.”
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Social media, of course, has been a key factor in Alison’s success. When she first established her business online, she posted an image of a tulip wreath on to her Instagram feed and within an hour it had 17,000 likes – and sales came flooding in.
“I now have over 40,000 followers on my account,” she says, “but it was nothing like that then. It just got shared and shared and then it all just took off.”
When you see the wreaths that Alison creates you understand immediately just exactly why her business ‘just took off.’ From vast circles of closely packed tulips to rings of sunflowers and roses, scarlet blooms with cinnamon and oranges, pastel-shaded eggs with leafy foliage and so much more, it’s no surprise that there is page after page of customer reviews praising her work.
In the four years since Alison started making and selling her glorious creations she has moved from being purely dining room table-based (and with a garage filled with boxes) to taking on a workspace and storage unit and two ladies to help her build the wreaths.
“I took the unit on last year,” she says. “And now that lockdown is over I shall be moving the last boxes out of my garage and taking them there. Throughout lockdown my two ladies were fully shielding, but I am hoping they can come back and join me soon. I shall also be bringing in some extra support, as we get closer Christmas. Last year I had five extra staff, but I think I will need more this year.”
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Alison’s approach to how she manages sales and her workload is somewhat unique, but allows her to manage her time and never, ever disappoint a customer.
“My Etsy shop is live all the time,” she says, “but with only a very few, non-wreath, items on there. Once every three weeks, at 9am on a Saturday I put up photos of the wreaths I am making for that season and open the doors, as it were. I take orders until I have reached the figure I know I can make over the next three weeks, and then I close the doors. During the Covid-19 lockdown when it was just me, this meant that I could be very sure that I could control the numbers of customers I could commit to, so everybody who ordered a wreath, large or small, received it within three weeks.
“All the wreaths take different times to hand make. The large wreaths take around three hours each and the small ones just 30 minutes, so how many we are able to make in a typical week just depends on what has been ordered. Last Christmas we were making roughly 70 a week and on my own I am able to make around 25 a week.”
While Alison may have been one of the first to bring non-Christmas door wreaths to the UK, she is no longer alone of course. However, her decision to commit to placing orders direct with a factory in China for the bulk of her flowers enabled her to continue working through the Covid crisis when many were unable to.
“You have to place huge orders,” she says, “90,000 tulips at a time, but this is what has allowed me to keep going.”
And Alison keeping going has helped many of us keep going too, not only those lucky enough to order a wreath during her extraordinarily short opening hours.
“The demand during lockdown soared,” Alison says. “Maybe it was the NHS clap, or the one hour a day exercise when we all walked our neighbourhoods looking at houses, but the demand from people who want to decorate their front doors has been immense. It’s lovely to think that I was able to bring a little sunshine to people’s lives.”
Right now she’s busy as can be constructing autumnal wreaths, which is, she says, her favourite season. “My favourite colour is ‘autumn’ and my work studio is amazing at the moment, full of beautiful oranges, crimsons, berries and leaves and pumpkins as far as the eye can see. I shall be moving onto Christmas soon, however, when demand really soars. Buyers love the traditional, dried fruit and leafy wreaths, but the more playful ones are popular too – candy canes and stripey ribbons bring a smile to every face.”
Visit Alison’s website for door wreath inspiration – but you will have to be quick, she sells out fast!
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