WINNER ‘Progress toward circularity’ Marie Claire Sustainability Awards 2023

Meet Hayley McDonald, plant expert and founder of Floral Merchant London

Meet Hayley McDonald, the founder of  Floral Merchant London. We spoke to her about the importance of being playful with your craft, the inspirations behind her brand and how her workshops help us reconnect with nature.

Hayley's popular cactus and succulent course is the perfect way to spend a cosy and mindful evening in, helping you create a thriving ecosystem with your own two hands.

Woman holding a plant

What inspired you to start your brand?

Creating connection is the inspiration behind Floral Merchant London, whether that be a connection to nature via the materials we work with, to each other via a workshop or to ourselves, during the quiet reflection and peacefulness that comes from the making process itself. Whatever botanical craft we are teaching, the aim is always to bring you to the “here and now” and the sense of complete presence that “playing” creates. You are never too old to play! 

A range of cacti

What's Floral Merchant London’s mission?

Floral Merchant London specialises in Online Botanical Workshops, DIY Kits and Virtual Team building activities. We provide a fun and creative way to gather your friends, family or colleagues together and escape into the wonderful world of creating with nature. Our mission is to bring people together with nature and creativity. We truly believe that doing something playful and creating something from scratch is a fulfilling type of escapism that brings out a playfulness and willingness to try new things that so many of us do not get the opportunity to experience once in adulthood. Working with plants really is a joyous experience and taps into an innate connection to nature that is in all of us. Our workshops and kits are designed to guarantee that you create something you are truly proud of, regardless of your previous experience with crafts or plants. 

Cacti in a glass terrarium

Who or what inspires you?

My background is in Film and TV Set Design and Interior Styling so it is important to me that our designs are stylish and make a beautiful focal point in your home or office, whether that is a gorgeous wreath for your front door or a dramatic looking terrarium on your desk. I tap into the seasonal trends both in floristry and interiors as well as looking at the natural world and taking inspiration from the colours and the way nature presents itself in the wild. 

people planting

What is the favourite project that you have worked on to date?

I will forever love the process of creating a terrarium; it is really mindful. It's a fab way to take your eyes off a screen for a while and really focus in on doing something tactile and peaceful. I love that you don’t need a garden or much space, it could even be the middle of winter and yet in only a couple of hours while cosy and indoors you can create a really impressive miniature landscape that you can be really proud of and continue to watch grow and develop through the seasons. There is nothing better than watching something you created and cared for flourish. 

cutting moss

What is some advice you have for aspiring makers?

It sounds obvious but let the process of actually “making” guide your design. Often students in my workshops try to plan everything out completely, but they discover that it is through just simply beginning the task and actually “doing it with your hands” that the ideas will start to come and the design can develop. Making is a tactile process and once you begin, I believe it is the time to stop looking left or right at what others are doing and really tap into your own instincts of what you like and what looks aesthetically pleasing for you. I believe that is how you create a design that is really to your own taste and unique to you, even if you are a complete beginner. Trust your gut on what looks good and commit, you will surprise yourself!

people plant their cacti

Pick up a terrarium kit today, or explore the range of plant-related courses and kits on offer from Floral Merchant London.