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9 Questions with PHOHM Founder, Phoebe Mulrooney

Armed with a passion for floristry, Phoebe Mulrooney has built a home for all things pampas grass, dried flowers & everlasting displays. 


Visit Brighton & Orelia caught up with Phoebe to discuss how it all started, what challenges PHOHM is facing, and what women inspire Phoebe in business.

 

Phoebe in the dried floral studio in Brighton

 

  • Tell us about yourself, your background and how you started PHOHM

I’m Phoebe Mulrooney, I’m 28 and I was born and raised in Brighton. I lived in London for a few years whilst doing my Fine Art degree at Camberwell. After I finished my degree I went travelling around South East Asia, eventually landing in Melbourne where I lived and worked for just over half a year. When I returned to the UK I started working as a freelance prop maker, making all sorts for commercial clients, feature films, weddings and events.

During my time creating props for an events company I worked on a project which used lots of artificial flowers. I really enjoyed the project and decided to start creating flower arches for local Brighton businesses. I got a lot of commissions and quickly launched my own floral design business in 2018.

PHOHM started as a floral design company trading solely to commercial businesses. I used artificial flowers and foliage to create large scale installations for bars, salons, shops and restaurants. These were mainly commissions, so whenever I could add my own personal touch to the installations I opted for dried flowers over artificial.

The aesthetic of dried flowers are much more my style so when Covid hit I had to think fast and decided to start creating dried flower bouquets for people’s homes.

A friend of mine had a shop in the North Laine and let me rent the space to start a dried flower pop-up. We opened the weekend that the first lockdown eased.

The trial weekend went really well and PHOHM pop-ups quickly became a weekly affair.

As well as having the space in the North Laine I also hosted multiple pop-ups outside cafes and bars in Brighton and Greater London. All the handwork paid off and I now have a permanent floral design studio in The Lanes Brighton and I couldn’t be happier.

 

  • What do you love most about what you do?

I love having creative freedom to design and make displays for both domestic floral installations for commercial or wedding clients.

 

  • What’s the best thing about your work?

I think the best thing about PHOHM is its originality. 

Originality in business is very difficult to achieve, everything feels overdone and whilst dried flowers are everywhere now my shop is the first of its kind. I offer in-house vase styling whereby you can either bring your own vase or purchase one of our antique vases in store and have it styled with stems of your choice. This is a unique experience which encourages living as you’re less likely to throw away a bespoke arrangement that's been specifically designed to your taste. I also source all the antique vases, meaning each display will be truly unique.

This is not only a retail space but it’s also a working studio where I make all of my larger scale projects & host dried flower workshops.

 

  • What’s your average day like, or is it ever average?

Lately where the shop has been my primary focus most days are fairly similar. Lots of making up bunches, dealing with enquiries, being in the shop talking to customers etc. However, now lots of the brands I work with are starting to do their activations again, I can start going out and installing my designs which is my favourite part of the job.

 

  • What is the biggest challenge or opportunity currently for you at the moment?

Biggest challenge is getting Brightoners to know where we are and what we do. The recent Hanningtons Lane development looks great and is helping to bring people back. 17Grams cafe opposite is really buzzy which creates a really good vibe outside the shop and of course Riddle & Finns is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.

The issue is getting people to think of that area as a shopping destination, I guess that will come with time as more spaces are taken over by independent retailers.


Our workshop program is mainly targeted at locals with the aim of PHOHM becoming a community hub for Brighton creatives. I hope I can help to put The Lanes back on the map as a popular shopping destination.

  • What do you love most about Brighton?

I love the pace of Brighton, the familiar faces & the local chat.

The vibe in Brighton right now is the best it’s been in years, the redevelopment of Victoria Gardens along to St Peters is exceptional, the wild flowers are beautiful and there’s a whole scene of young people rolling about on skates, bikes and boards. Alfresco play is extremely popular and has 100% come as a result of the pandemic. Seeing people out and about having fun no matter their age is what makes Brighton so great. Just yesterday I walked along the beach and so many people were doing spontaneous dance offs, busking, playing basketball, skating, jamming etc.


My favourite thing about Brighton is it attracts sparkly people, open minded people that want to have a good time.

  • Who are the women in your life that have inspired you?

My mum for sure inspires me the most. She is the inspiration behind a lot of the ideas for my business and can always tell if I’m being disingenuous. She is extremely honest and although sometimes it can be difficult to swallow, she is nearly always correct about the decisions I’ve ended up making.

My mum always told me to be my own boss, but for a while, I really couldn’t see how I could make that work - turns out it happened very naturally.

  • What advice would you give to young women thinking about starting their own brands?

Be authentic, do something you really love, don’t imitate. Create your own vibe that’s true to you and what you love and put your all into it.

 

  • Can you recommend four women to follow on Instagram? 

Yes! Here’s some great friends of mine creating and curating their businesses (follow and support!)


@oranssistore
@molliepalingjewellery
@alannaduffieldpoetry
@moss.omey

Read the full interviews over at Visit Brighton & Orelia