Every fortnight we invite you to take a peek behind the scenes at McQueens Flowers and meet the people who form the fabric of who we are, and what we create. Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to our West End Shop Manager, Daniela Piacquadio.How did you get into Floristry, Daniela?
I got into floristry after leaving school. I was 16 and looking at different courses when I came across the floristry Diploma at Capel College, and thought I’d give it a go. I’d never tried it before in my life, but I went for the open day and loved it. I remember thinking, this feels like me.
The first bouquet I made I was top of the class, my tutor asked if I was sure I hadn’t done it before. From then on, my mind was made up, I never looked back. I began doing work experience while I was studying and carried on from there. I graduated college on a Friday started as a full-time florist on the Monday. That was over 6 years ago now.What was your first experience of McQueens Flowers?
I remember passing the old McQueens Flowers Shop in Clerkenwell on the way to church when I was younger – my family would go to the Italian church near Old Street on special occasions – and I’d always ask my dad to drive slowly, so I could see the window display. When I later discovered McQueens on Instagram I just thought oh my gosh, this is amazing. Kally [Ellis, founder of McQueens Flowers] is such an inspiration and it was incredible to see everything that was being made there. Because everyone was pictured so often, I felt like I got to know the people who worked here long before I had started, too.
I was working at a different floristry company when, by chance, I ended up doing a McQueens course on holiday. My mum and I had booked a trip to the Italian coast and I saw that McQueens were hosting a destination floristry course just half an hour’s drive away at a villa in the countryside. Mum loves flowers too so we went, and it was just the best four days ever. We made friends with the other students who were from all over the world – New Zealand, California, France Dubai – we’re still in touch now. That’s also how I met Riccardo, who was the Managing Director at the time. After I came home I got an email from him asking for my CV, and the rest is history!What was it like starting here?
I came from a much smaller team so there was a huge difference! Everyone was so friendly, introducing themselves, I was learning everyone’s names for at least a week. The first thing I felt was how lovely everyone was and how much character there is here, everyone gels so well, and they were all so welcoming. I started at Christmas so (although I was hired as a shop florist) I ended up doing a bit of everything – contracts, the shop, in the school, deliveries – it was nice to get to know who’s doing what and where.What roles have you held since working at the company?
After 6 months as a shop florist I was promoted to Assistant Shop Manager, and about 7 months after that I started in Contracts – doing the weekly flowers for private member's clubs, hotels, and restaurants... I was doing that for over a year and then shortly before lockdown, I was offered the role of shop manager at McQueens Flowers in the West End. What’s it been like working on the opening of our two new stores?
Working on the opening of McQueens Flowers John Lewis
, and our new North Audley Street Flagship
has been totally overwhelming! It’s been such a roller coaster of a year and at times, it’s felt like it was never going to happen, but it’s been an exciting process all the way through and I’m so proud of us.
I had worked as a florist at John Lewis before, so I knew what to expect and wasn’t nervous until the day we went in and I just thought, oh my gosh, this is actually happening! It was nice that I already knew half the staff – in some ways it feels like I never left.
North Audley Street is just beautiful, it's got such a different feel. Everything has been designed and custom-built for the store, it looks and feels really luxurious – seeing it for the first time was really exciting. What do you love most about working in the West End?
After years of contracts and workshops, it’s really nice to dress up nicely for work – I can actually wear boots or a skirt without having to worry about jumping in and out of a van! I also just love the buzz of the West End, it’s amazing. The residents around here are so lovely, and we’re surrounded by pretty things all the time – the amazing window displays outside the shops, the lights on Oxford Street and Bond Street…. Plus everything is close and to hand. Right now, after everything that has happened this year, it feels so festive and happy, I love that feeling.