Table Talk with… Emma Soulsby, Co-founder of Magnificent Marrow and Founder of Emma Soulsby Flowers
Growing up in the North of England, Emma Soulsby has always had an affinity with nature and so it isn’t a surprise that she has created two businesses which means she is constantly surrounded by the natural world. As the Co-founder of Magnificent Marrow and Founder of luxury floral design studio Emma Soulsby Flowers, Emma spends her days with beautiful fresh produce, whether that's designing stunning floral displays for luxe weddings or packing up magnificent deliveries of fresh fruit and veg.
Emma has had her fair share of experience when it comes to listening to her gut and taking a leap of faith to try something new; having given up her career in the City to start her own floral design studio, Emma then took a step into the unknown by creating Magnificent Marrow within a week… during a pandemic! Here our Co-founder and all-round superwoman takes time out of the office to tell us how Magnificent Marrow has grown into something so much bigger than she could ever imagine, reveals that her dream dinner party would involve her granny and Beyonce and tells us why a big bowl of pasta fixes everything.
I am not good at being told what to do. My background is in finance and I was working a 9-5 job in the City which I found it soul destroying. It wasn’t my passion and I knew I needed a creative outlet that meant I was the one calling the shots. I started volunteering at a local florist in Notting Hill and found my love for flowers. Three years later in 2015 I decided to leave my job and start a career as a florist. Within three years I was running my own floral business, Emma Soulsby Flowers, focusing mainly on weddings. In 2018 I opened the Emma Soulsby Flower School, mentoring like-minded florists on how to build a successful floristry business. 2020 was set to be the best year so far of Emma Soulsby Flowers with some amazing weddings booked including our first destination wedding in the south of France. We also had plans in place to branch out into the corporate arena but it seemed the universe had other ideas.
Even now it’s mad to look back at how Magnificent Marrow came to be and the journey that we have been on since the start in March 2020. The pandemic put our floral world on pause, but gave myself and Leigh the opportunity to pivot our business after we saw the devastating impact Covid-19 left people accessing food in the first lockdown. Within a week Magnificent Marrow was born - delivering fresh fruit & vegetables, deli goods, responsibly sourced meats/fish, baked goods, flowers & more. Within four months we were delivering nationwide and at the end of last year we opened our first shop. Our little business, created overnight, during dark times, has grown into something so much bigger than I could’ve ever imagined.
There is no secret magic formula to starting a new business apart from putting in the hours and working hard. Our extensive knowledge of fresh produce markets, our passion for nourishing food and our experience of very, very early starts, meant we had a lot of the knowledge we needed, however starting Magnificent Marrow has been a massive learning curve for us both; especially because we launched during a pandemic, there is no handbook for that.
Leigh and I had been together for eight months before we went into business together with Magnificent Marrow. Leigh had worked with me on a lot of the luxury weddings I had done but we had never spent 24/7 together like we do now. However, we compliment each other. On those dark, early mornings when you don’t want to get out of bed we are always there to motivate the other one and make each other smile to make those hard days easier.
Do what you know - that’s my top tip when starting your own business. For Magnificent Marrow we have taken that customer experience that I provided on the wedding side of things and have applied it to MM. My aim is always to make my bridal clients feel special and have a level of customer service that is very personal, and I wanted to apply the same attitude to Magnificent Marrow and our customers. For instance if customers are looking for something we don't sell, we will find it for them, if they want to add a personal note to something because they are sending it as a gift we will add. Even the way we pack the boxes - we make it look beautiful because we want them to open the box and it puts a smile on their face, like they would with a bouquet of flowers. We still have people from lockdown ordering with us now and I think that is down to that customer experience.
I have had so many career highlights, especially since starting Magnificent Marrow. When it comes to ESF without a doubt my highlight was being named Wedding Florist of the Year at the 2019’s The Wedding Industry Awards because it was voted for by couples and that really meant a lot to me. When it comes to Magnificent Marrow, there have been so many standout moments but perhaps last Christmas was a time that I was really proud of what we achieved. With the country in lockdown and everyone's plans totally ruined we had hundreds of orders and at one point we couldn’t get the basics such as potatoes and carrots because the borders were closed and nothing was coming in. Leigh and I worked non stop, with only a few hours sleep for the week leading up to Christmas to make sure we could fulfill the orders and that everyone got what they needed to have the best Christmas dinner possible. Christmas day I didn’t leave my PJs, I was exhausted but so proud of what we had achieved.
I love food but I don’t enjoy cooking and before I met Leigh I never really spent much time in the kitchen. Even now, Leigh does the majority of the cooking at home just because he is so good at it. What I do enjoy doing is sitting in the kitchen watching him cook, with a glass of wine, and it’s our time to really catch up with each other; it’s one of my favourite parts of my day.
Leigh is an amazing cook but I love to go out for dinner. Especially after this last year and half going out for dinner still feels like a real treat and it is nice for us to be away from work and try our best not to talk shop.
The first dish I learned to cook was spaghetti bolognese. I feel like it’s a rite of passage for everyone to learn how to make spag bol. It’s still one of my favourite meals.
My most vivid memory involving food is of my mum cooking fajitas because there was always so much food and it was such a family event. My mum would have it all laid out and we would take it in turns to make our own wraps, take our seats, a glass of wine and we would watch a film . It would always take hours to watch because me and my siblings would always argue over which film to watch and in the end my mum would always end up falling asleep during it.
Pasta is my go-to comfort food - there is nothing a big bowl of pasta won’t fix. Whether it’s been a long day at work or we are having the family over, I always opt for Italian cuisine - my favourite dish is Leigh’s homemade Carbonara.
My dream dinner party guest would be my granny who inspired me to become a florist. I would love to talk to her as an adult and learn from her stories and ask her all the questions I never got to ask. And if I had to invite a celeb for dinner it would hands down be Beyonce, although I would be so starstruck I probably wouldn’t be able to make conversation. Thinking about it, that would be a great dinner party… me, my granny and Beyonce! Ha!
My drink of choice would always be red wine. All day, every day.
If I had to pick a favourite vegetable it would be the marrow because without it we wouldn't be where we are now. The business name came about from one particular childhood memory of mine - it was the Harvest Festival at school and all of the other kids brought in tins and packets of food. My mum, however, thought it was a great idea to have fresh produce and gave me a marrow from her garden that was twice the size of me. I never lived it down with the kids or teachers. I now look back on this moment fondly, but at the time I was mortified! Fast forward a few years, and my mum’s passion for fresh produce has clearly rubbed off.
www.emmasoulsbyflowers.com / @emmasoulsby