Local florist Shannon McMillan – the owner of Ballymoney’s Blossom & Birch – has been nominated for the ‘Thirty under Thirty Hall of Fame’ award, launched by The Florist Magazine and Good Florist Guide.
The award was created in ‘memory of one the UK’s rising stars, Emma McDonald who sadly died at the age of 29, and as a way of celebrating all that is good amongst the flower industry’s young talent’.
Shannon owns and runs two award-winning florists, Ballymoney being her first opened back in 2017 and another in Ballymena, with a pop-up shop planned approaching Christmas.
She has seen her fair share of nominations and awards over the years, including picking up a bronze medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in 2016.
Speaking to us about this recent nomination, Shannon said: “I felt really proud & honored to be nominated for something so meaningful.
“Seeing my name up there with really talented young florists is a really good feeling, having started my journey in floristry early & never stopped.”
Shannon’s passion for floristry goes back to childhood, and she cites her Dad as the influence behind her choice of career when he got a job as a lorry driver delivering flowers.
She wasn’t the only one to benefit at the time from her Dad’s new job; her Mum was also pleased. “Dad started bringing flowers home and ‘Ma’ as you could imagine was over the moon”, Shannon recalled.
“It was from that moment when dad walked in with a bunch of peonies with all their leaves on, wrapped in brown craft paper, that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. Helping my mum fill beautiful vases of stunning fresh flowers, I knew I was destined to have flowers in my life.”
On Sundays, Shannon would go along with her Dad on the lorry delivering, helping to earn her some extra pocket money. But her love of flowers never waived; it grew stronger, and whenever asked what she would like to do in life, her reply was, “open a flower shop”.
Following three years studying floristry at Greenmount college, Shannon graduated, telling us: “I studied my level 2 & 3 floristry at Cafre then went on to build experience doing competitions and volunteering in special events.
“I was a part of a 30 member team who created an 8.2m giant floral recreation of a still life photo using 30,000 flowers outside the national gallery in London.”
Concluding by proudly saying: “I also was lucky enough to compete my way through to the final heat of Florist of the year at The Chelsea Flower show three times and won a bronze medal for my work in 2016.”
But a childhood dream became a reality when Shannon opened her shop – Blossom & Birch – in the heart of Ballymoney, the town she and her new wife now call home.
Shannons nomination for this ‘Thirty under Thirty Hall of Fame’ reads: “Shannon is the best florist I have ever met and takes such pride in all her work and is an award-winning florist as she got Bronze in the Chelsea flower show.
“Shannon not only works hard but overcomes every obstacle that is thrown at her. A fantastic advocate for mental health, she is always there, even if it’s just to talk to people and she also holds charity events and is always there to lend a hand in the community. She’s only 24 but already owns two shops and has trained everyone who works there and to do the job they love.
“Her knowledge of the industry and flowers is next to none and she should definitely be recognized for her hard work and determination. Personally don’t know where I would be without her.”
Once all the nominations have been received, a panel of Good Florist Guide members will decide who will take the 2021 title of ’30 under 30 Champion’.
For further details, visit The Florist website.