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Fabulous Flowers and Perfectly Executed Events With Elitonia

Pure imagination – the art floristry with Elitonia

Fabulous flowers and perfectly executed events; Toast.Life chats trends, top tips and more with Toni Ryder, the woman at the helm of luxury florist and events company Elitonia



Elitonia’s website is a real feast for the eyes. After just a quick peruse one might be under the impression that the company specialises in beautiful, imaginative floral creations alone, but there is in fact much more to Elitonia than meets the eye...

“We cover many different areas including luxury floristry and events, as well as management consultancy” explains Managing Director Toni Ryder. 

“I got involved in floristry following one of my consulting roles where I was asked to help a struggling florist who wasn’t able to make their business work on their own.  After turning their business into a thriving and profitable one, and because I had learned so much about the industry in the process, I saw a gap in the market for luxury floristry and also floristry that went beyond the norm and showcased the imagination in flowers. I found an award-winning florist who wanted to work with me, and we set about filling that gap!” she beams. 

Toni, originally from upstate New York, has been living in the UK for 27 years and has more than 30-years experience delivering high-end projects and exceptional events. Her career started in project management, overseeing large IT implementations for oil companies (a far cry from luxury floristry...) and now she splits her time between further project management, management consultancy and running her three (yes, three) businesses – one of which is Elitonia

Elitonia is a company that prides itself on honesty and integrity. We value everyone on their own merits and ensure that we go out of our way to get to know each of our clients and work closely with them” Toni explains proudly.

“In the floral industry, our style can vary from job to job, but we love to be creative and some of our best work comes when clients give us a brief but let us design and structure the project ourselves”   

Whether it’s for a glamourous fashion show, a film set, an elegant party or event or even just to simply create instant style and ambiance in the home or office, Elitonia goes beyond the norm when it comes to floristry by believing that the only limit to their floral creations is imagination. Toni tells me that she loves doing ‘the big installations’, and that more and more they are receiving requests for similarly elaborate and impressive designs at private events too. The orders for flower walls are still coming in thick and fast, and she has seen a rise in demand for more natural decoration using lots of living trees and plants.

“Originality and creativity work side by side with our values and we believe that if we remain true to these, we can always deliver above and beyond our clients’ expectations. Our creations have appeared in so many different places and in lots of different countries. We have worked with the likes of F1 GP management, distilleries, hotels, celebrities and even cruise lines!” she explains.

“Our inspiration comes from many aspects of life - from nature, from experiences, from movies, from the people that we’ve met and the places we’ve been. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and I have to write it down so that I don’t forget it!”

Elitonia Florals

Elitonia Floral Wall  

As well as big birthday parties, anniversaries, lavish private dinners, press events, and more, Eltionia also can also create entire floral designs, intricate displays and general green-fingered greatness for weddings too.

“A wedding is one of the biggest days of someone’s life and the flowers just have to be perfect! We really put the pressure on ourselves as we know just how much this day means to our brides and grooms!” Toni explains. 

“A lot of the weddings we do are very large and involve multiple days of set up – this can present challenges, but we love to do them! We’ve been so fortunate to work with amazing clients in different locations and countries and so many of them become our friends. It is very special”

In addition to their fresher-than-fresh real-life florals, Toni and her team also work with silk flowers and can create beautiful installations using a mixture of real and faux, as part of their interior design service.

“Everyone loves flowers but not everyone has the creative flair to put together a design that would work in their rooms at home” Toni explains. 

“Fresh flowers are usually done on a weekly basis and this makes sure that the design always looks its best. Silk flowers can be used to create unusual designs or can be used in places that don’t get a lot of light or where fresh flowers just aren’t an option. This can be a real benefit as some people don’t have a green thumb, and some clients just don’t have the budget to have fresh flowers every single week”   

 Elitonia Fashion Styling

Blind Sentinals Elitonia Floral Shoot

As well as the plethora of luxury events and environments that Toni and her talented team have adorned with beautiful blooms, Elitonia are also responsible for some mind-bogglingly beautiful editorial work too, much of which has been the brainchild of Toni herself. Their stunning ‘Snow Maiden’ series was based on a character from an old Russian fairy tale of the same name; the photo shoot took place in the heart of the Cotswolds, and it’s fair to say that it was somewhat chillier than expected…

“I love the Cotswolds and the gorgeous nature that is all around and I wanted to showcase this, but I also wanted to incorporate the flowers in a way that hadn’t been done before” explains Toni.

“But the shoot day was unfortunately the coldest day of the year and it was snowing!  ‘All good plans’, as they say! We had to adapt everything on the day as the horse didn’t like the snow and the cold, we only had minutes for each shot before the model became hypothermic, and we couldn’t actually use the place we had picked for the shoot as we couldn’t get our vehicles there on the day! But having said all that - we had the most amazing team of people and the end results speak for themselves”. 

Gin Maid Elitonia

Another amazing photographic display of Toni’s unique and abundant creativity comes in the form of the ‘Gin Maid’ – an alluring and colourful figure inspired by Toni’s desire to mix flowers and steampunk, after being inspired by the copper gin stills at The Cotswolds Distillery

“I scribbled down the concept on a piece of paper and decided that in order to enhance the steampunk theme we would brighten it all up with an 8ft floral skirt!” she laughs.

“We weren’t allowed to use flash photography in case it caused an explosion from the alcohol fumes, so we had to use different lighting concepts in order to capture our model. This was a challenge but we managed it! The team pulled together and the end result was amazing - the rich colours of the stills, the complementary flowers and our model Ash's beautiful red hair all combined beautifully”

An added bonus for the distillery was when one of the photographs used in a Facebook Ad pulled in over 50,000 unique visitors to their website in just 3 days - that Gin Maiden obviously wields some fantastic gin-fuelled powers…

It’s evident that Toni is an incredibly creative, capable and accomplished woman. I ask her what the most memorable event she’s ever put on has been and it’s predictably impressive; a whopping 750-guest event for the US Military, which involved months of coordination. What, I wonder, is the key to her event planning success.

“Preparation! You really need to cover every detail, no matter how small, and be completely prepared in advance.  Never leave anything to chance!” she insists.

The event in question was held in a large military aviation hanger filled with military aircraft and vehicles from around the world, and the biggest USA flag Toni had ‘ever seen’. Guests were treated to a champagne reception, a fully catered three course meal, three different live bands, a DJ, guest speakers and dancing until the wee hours.

“I remember on the day of the event, just before the guests arrived, I stood back in this amazingly large space and just felt such pride and emotion as the months of hard work and effort were there in all their glory” she beams.

"It might sound crazy, but I get tremendous pride and satisfaction when an event goes without a hitch – the hard work to get to that point pales in insignificance to the pleasure I get from seeing the happy faces of the guests, and listening to their laughter.”

Blind Sentinals

Elitonia Table Setting

Elitonia Table Setting  (1)


Toni’s Top Tips for 2018 Trends

 

  • Peonies – everyone loves them and we’ve had so many requests for them this year! They are so fragrant and add such beauty to any arrangement!

  • Floral Walls, floral hanging hoops, hanging flowers – all trends that we are seeing this summer!

  • Dream Big - Remember, if you can dream it, it can be created with flowers!  Budget, of course, notwithstanding…!

If you’d like to work with Elitonia you can find their contact details and more info on their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.

 

Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 17 July 2018

  event styling, floral styling, flower design

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