Tom Ford’s former right hand reinvents the florist model with her eyes on the West Coast
Words by NANDITA KHANNA
Whitney Bromberg Hawkings has Tom Ford to thank for her fondest-ever floral delivery. “Every year on my birthday, he’d send me 100 long-stemmed tuberose,” she recalls. In 2016, after working for the designer for 18 years, most recently as his SVP of communications, Hawkings stepped out on her own to run Flowerbx, a direct-to-consumer delivery business that cuts out the middleman by working directly with growers to offer simple, single varietal arrangements.
In true startup fashion, Hawkings operated Flowerbx out of a small warehouse in Park Royal, London, not far from the South Kensington home she currently shares with her husband, Peter (Ford’s long-serving senior VP of menswear), and her three children. Since then, the company has taken up much more real estate on the same industrial property and has expanded internationally to cities like Paris, Amsterdam and New York. On Sept. 8, a West Coast hub launches in Los Angeles so it can deliver seasonal varietals like hydrangeas and peonies in brown paper or vases (onyx, stone, ceramic, glass, brushed metal) up and down the coast within 48 hours.
Given Hawkings’ black book, it’s no surprise she counts brands from Louis Vuitton to Dior and Tory Burch as clients. The Beckhams rely on Flowerbx’s subscription services to keep their residence and the VB studio outfitted with a dash of flora. Ford, too, an early customer, gives Flowerbx subscriptions as gifts. His go-to order? A sea of dahlias, peonies, hydrangeas or ranunculus, depending on the season. “Always white, no greenery and never mixed,” she says.
Ford is known for his assiduous attention to detail. Hawkings operates Flowerbx with a similar eye for consistency and quality after spending years on the job putting out fires caused by unreliable florists. “I was on the receiving end of one too many bad surprises,” she says of what led her to start the company.
WHITNEY BROMBERG HAWKINGS and designer TOM FORD.
When it comes to floral design at home, Hawkings still relies heavily on a guiding principle from her years in fashion: “Keep it tonal,” she says. Her go-to gift is hydrangeas for their wow factor, or dahlias when they’re in season; even mums, although admittedly not her favorite flower, look sharp next to long-stemmed roses. “There are a million ways for a mixed bouquet to go wrong,” she says. “But with single bloom, we’re making it nearly impossible.”
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Whitney Bromberg Hawkings on
How to Make the Most of Your Blooms
- Change the (lukewarm) water regularly.
- Retrim stems at a 45-degree angle to encourage absorption.
- Use the plant food — it really does prolong the life of flowers.
- Remove foliage below the waterline. Leaves drink up all the water.
- When in doubt, keep it tonal.
Feature image: WHITNEY BROMBERG HAWKINGS. Photo by Alex Bramall.
This story originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of C Magazine.
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