Specialising in terrariums and interior plant design, plant lovers paradise, Heron Hawker has been open since April, this year. Being a huge plant lover and this beautiful shop being on my then doorstep (I have since moved to Oxfordshire!) I wanted to get inside owner, Rob's head, and find out about the quirky name amongst other things!
When did you first start?
"I’d been making little terrariums at home for a while, around October time 2016. I’d made some for friends and I was talking to my partner and we decided we should get out there and run a market stall. We got in contact with Tottenham Green Market which is fantastic, and we had our first stall in Feb 2017. It went OK, let’s just say we learnt a lot. So we booked on a 5 more weekends and went back, each time tweaking our setup and the sort of items we were bringing along. We also learnt incredible fast not to buy a cheap gazebo for you market stall. Unless your plan was to hold onto it for dear life in the winter winds."
How did you come up with the idea of terrariums?
"One of my best friends is really into his plants, and I learnt a lot from him. He would often bring cuttings round when he came to visit, or I stole them from his plants when I was there. It was fun learning about all the different environments they like to live in, and what suites what sort of plant. It also gave me the chance to test out different plants and see which of them I could really get on with, that I could grow and also propagate. Then I started shoving them into little jars, I think my family was forced into a jar amnesty, and I stole some sand from my parents garage. Took it all back to London and started messing around with open and dry terrariums. There were a few people making moist terrariums, things with fittonia, ferns and other leafy things. At that point I was more focused on succulents and cacti and the uniformity in their patterns. Or the craziness of them not being uniform."
How did you come up with your quirky name?
"When I was a kid I was into my aeroplanes, and we didn’t live too far away from Duxford, or the RAF museum. Whether It was school trips or trips with my family, I seemed to go there often. I liked the old school fighter planes, the Tiger moths, Sopwith Camel and the Hawker Heron. I thought about how these machines were built to help destroy things, this is about how to grow things. So I explored turning each of them around. Heron Hawker just seemed to fit perfectly."
As those of you who know me well know, I am always fascinated by the part serendipity ALWAYS plays in people's businesses... Everyone's got a story to tell!
Where has serendipity showed up in your business?
"I’ve always been someone who’s dabbled in everything. Tried loads of hobbies, different jobs and things. When you’re like that opportunities tend to arise more regularly. By doing that you meet people and the chance of something amazing happening increases. Our biggest strike of luck was a buyer from The Conran Shop followed me, and I them on my personal account. They saw what I was making and we met up again and chatted around creating a range for those guys. It’s been a fantastic relationship, we love hunting down new vessels and trying things with them. The first big order from those guys gave me the last push to quit my job from the music industry and pour my time into Heron Hawker."
What is your fave plant?
"It changes! I think deep down it’s all the different types of Haworthia. They are so indestructible but so many types to explore and grow. They have pups like mad, so they’re a good one to start with and see how much you can expand your collection. I love a big of Alocasia Wentii as their foliage is amazing, but not necessarily practical as they take up a lot of room."
What have you learnt about running a shop compared to just being wholesale and running workshops?
"I enjoy meeting everyone that comes into the shop. I feel like if they’re up for it, we can really dedicate a bit of time to them and help them find something perfect. Sometimes it’s not in the store which is when the hunting mission begins to find the most bizarre little pants. The tricky bit is that with huge Instagram and Pinterest pages showing off the most unique things, it can leave a lot people trying to find something that just isn't commercially available in the UK just yet. Logistically it’s also a little crazy as we’ve got strict opening hours now. Our dog Yolk also keeps me company in the shop during the day. In our last workshop space he would be upstairs with me, so he wouldn’t always meet the people who would come in. Now though he thinks everyone is here to see him, and sometimes to be honest, I think the same!"
Tell me more about your workshops
"We run both corporate and public workshops. They are really fun as it challenges people to get creative but it’s also hard to be disappointed with what you make, so nobody leaves feeling frustrated. You either grab a bit of glassware here, or bring a piece along and then we teach you the essentials. After that, we set you free with all the gear. It’s fun as everyone has the same elements to play with, but they all end up looking so different. We’ve done them for 5 to 95 people."
What about your other services?
"We also help interior design firms to bring the plant elements of their visions to life, which is always great fun. We get to visit some cool spaces and collaborate with the owners and designers to bring installations to life. We also help to decorate events too and have our first weddings coming up this year which is incredibly exciting. We’re making a variety of centrepieces of all different shapes and sizes."
What exciting plans have you got coming up?
"We’re about to launch our creative workshop calendar. Alongside our own terrarium workshops, we’ll be having a variety of guest workshops. We’ve found some of our favourite makers out there and offered them the space outside of trading hours to host workshops in the shop. They’ll be for around 8 people at a time, which is always the best as you get to spend so much time with the host and get to fully understand how to making something beautiful."