10 Questions to Karen Barnes, Award-Winning Wedding and Event Planner

"Nothing brings so much joy than seeing my students' passion and efforts to becoming exceptional florists manifest"

By: THURSD. | 29-05-2024 | 9 min read
10 Questions to

10 Questions takes us this week to Karen Barnes, an award-winning wedding and event planner, with decades of experience as a florist, event planner, and international floral judge. One intriguing thing to learn about Karen is that she organized the Interflora World Cup in the UK and was tasked with managing floral decor and competition spaces. She was also the judge at the recently concluded RHS Chelsea Flower Show, this underscores her commitment to floristry, competition, and her immense passion to support upcoming florists. Read on!

Question 1

For those who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do?

"Hello, I am Karen Barnes, a florist, wedding, and event floral planner, trainer, educator, prominent international judge, creator of trend directions, and a 1-2-1 business overview consultant.

I live in a sleepy village in the UK with my husband Stuart. We have a lovely home and garden with a beautiful running stream running through it. We also have two Bengal kittens, who cause chaos! So lovable but it’s like having two little toddlers!

Our sons are happily married and we have three grandchildren: Isla, Iggy, and Dexter, whom we adore, it brings me so much joy when they all come to stay."


10 Questions to
Karen Barnes


Question 2

What is so special about your job?

"There are so many special moments in my job! I have been so lucky to travel around many parts of the world, for work as a designer, teacher, judge, lecturer, and demonstrator.Inspirational meetings and collaborations with colleagues around the world are some of the most valued things, and some of them have been very inspiring.

I love to design for events, particularly weddings, and installations, creating beautiful floral arrangements for my clients. I have a fabulous team that works with me to create breathtaking floral displays.

I am very proud when I see students I have helped train, take their dreams of becoming a florist, and then make them a reality.

I teach at a high-end London Flower School every month and it never fails to amaze me when I see the number of international students attending the courses in London.

One of the most important parts of my job, I think, is when I train/encourage florists to enter floristy competitions. I talk to them about the benefits and opportunities that can be opened up to successful competitors.Seeing products in florist retail shops and on website pages that I know I have selected and designed in the Far East, can be very rewarding!"


10 Questions to
At an Event in Mumbai, India


Question 3

Are there any specific challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your job, and how did you overcome them?

"One of the recent projects that I have been extremely proud of, is when Interflora asked me in 2021 if I would consider organizing the Interflora World Cup 2023 Competition and Event. I accepted the role immediately and wholeheartedly embraced the challenge. I became Competition and Floral Décor Project Manager and worked very closely with so many incredible suppliers, sponsors, and people from all areas of the floral/ horti industry.

We had twenty international competitors, compete against each other over three days, in a live environment in front of the public. Eight thousand visitors came through the doors of the very impressive Convention Centre in Manchester, United Kingdom. I was responsible for ensuring that the competition ran fairly and smoothly, as well as decorating the event venue with many fresh floral and plant installations.

A huge undertaking, with months and months of planning and designing, but it was all worth it when I saw the results! My experience has taught me that planning is critical for any business at any level."


10 Questions to
Teaching bouquet arrangement 


Question 4

What are the threats in the industry, and if so, do you have any solutions for them?

"Sustainability is a heavy subject, and our customers and consumers are becoming very engaged with recycling, re-purpose, and shopping locally. In general, they want to be as eco-friendly as possible when parting with their money. I would like our industry to come together more and work as one so that we can achieve our goals of becoming as environmentally friendly as possible as soon as we can and be seen doing this.

We should educate more: the public and the industry to a much wider scope. If we got major organizations to work together instead of competing against each other, it would bring us closer to the goal we all want, and if independent florists, rethought their business model, it can only be for the better.

My second concern is the lack of new, fresh talent coming into the industry. Particularly in the UK. We need to attract young talent into floristry and floral design as a career. They are the future!"


10 Questions to


Question 5

How has technology like e-commerce platforms or digital marketing affected your industry, which strategies have you employed to stay competitive?

"Social Media can impact any business in this digital era we are living in and we must embrace it. I am not the most tech-savvy person, to be honest, but I can see the benefits of using social media to market your business and sell products. I don’t have products, as such to sell, but what I do have are my skills and experience.

My social media posts concentrate on any one of my projects from a high-end wedding to judging at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I find that imagery is so powerful, so I post colorful images and I am slowly adding video content with voiceovers or music.

I should do more, but I find that it is very time-consuming, and often the bigger companies I work with, have teams just working on social media marketing. Websites have made a huge difference too and one of my skill sets is advising on what the imagery of a product collection should look like on a web page.

A strong commercial image is worth its weight in gold and if you have several on the home page of a website, they will become the most successful products. A website needs to be inviting, welcoming, easy to navigate, and create a good customer experience. To stay competitive, it must be kept up to date regularly, be current and product collections changed."


10 Questions to
Karen Barnes with fellow Judges at the Interflora World Cup UK


Question 6

Who (in or outside the floral industry) is an inspiring example to you? And Why?

"I have a few! But, Linda Johnsen from Oslo Norway, has been a huge inspiration to me over the years. She started her successful career in a very similar way to me, by being creative and discovering floristry by chance.

We both have a love for design and inspiration, and I discovered that she entered floristry competitions, just as I did, from being a young trainee florist. As my career took me from being a competitor to a national and international judge, our paths crossed on the judges' scene and we became friends. Her knowledge is outstanding, and although a quiet person, she is a joy to be around.

I am also a huge fan of Shishi, which is one of Linda’s companies. A high-end international brand that offers fresh and interesting ideas for interior decoration. Their vases and seasonal products are stunning and Linda’s eye for design and detail is superb."

Question 7

How do you handle stress or difficult moments in your life?

"Mmm, this is a difficult one!

I try to be positive and look on the bright side of life, (most of the time!) Of course, there are days when the world seems to be awkward, but there is often a way to navigate through these times and I find smiling is a tonic. It diffuses so much.

Many years ago, I went on a tele-sales course and we were taught to always answer the telephone with a smile as this makes a huge difference to how the caller perceives you, and your business. I have never forgotten this and smile as much as I can (particularly when answering the phone!) I coach this when helping businesses with customer care and selling.

Another important nugget I was taught, was to never argue with a customer or client. Always listen and then answer with a calm voice. Keeping calm, listening, and smiling helps me."

Question 8

What has been the best (floral or non-floral) news for you lately, or of the last year?

"To be invited to judge at the RHS Chelsea in Bloom, Chelsea Flower Show, London 2024. Judging for the RHS ( Royal Horticultural Society) is one of the many highlights I have had with Judging assignments.

It is a privilege to work with the RHS at one of the best flower shows in the world. As a past competitor of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, gaining gold medals, it is a joy to be now in the position of judging. I especially enjoy the Chelsea in Bloom and Belgravia in Bloom competitions as this is when the streets around Chelsea become alive with flowers! Businesses, retail shops, and hotels are invited to compete against each other by creating an installation/display outside and/or inside their business to a specific brief.

This year we had 121 entries! Incredible! We award gold, silver gilt, silver, and bronze medals to those worthy of an RHS medal. We see some amazing installations and it's not always the ones with the largest budgets that win the golds!"



10 Questions to
Celebrity church arch by Karen Barnes


Question 9

Which is your favorite flower/plant and why is it good for you?

"I love every flower and even after being in the floral industry all my working life, I never tire of working with such beautiful materials. My favourite flower though is Convallaria majalis/Lily of the Valley. They have such a beautiful fragrance, it's classical, petite, and has exquisite bell-shaped white flowers. So feminine.

My wedding bouquet consisted of 400 stems informly tied together, to look as though I had just picked them!"

Question 10

What are you doing this weekend?

"My plans for this weekend are dependent on the English weather!

Weather permitting, I will be out in the garden, tidying the borders and lawns. My wellies will be on, and I will climb into the shallow stream and clean some of the debris that has fallen into the water, from the trees around, in recent weeks.

A little less tiring, we have plans to meet friends for Sunday lunch in the local pub too, so a ‘quiet’ weekend at home!"


10 Questions to
Karen Barnes at the Interflora World Cup UK


All pictures courtesy of Karen Barnes.



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