This month we caught up with world renowned florist extraordinaire Nikki Tibbles, founder of Wild at Heart. Throwing open the doors to her vibrant and eclectic Notting Hill townhouse, we popped round to chat flowers, the joy of wearing florals and all things home and decorating and most importantly her animal welfare charity, the Wild at Heart Foundation.
Photography by Joanna Theodorou.
From your incredible flower shop that has become such a landmark in the Westbourne Grove community, to your concession in Liberty, your name has become synonymous with fun & abundant, classically British bouquets and arrangements. Can you tell us about how you first started your business & what drew you to floristry in the first place?
I started Wild at Heart in the early 90s. I was working in Advertising when a friend asked me to help organise her wedding flowers, I didn’t know much about floristry but was happy to help. I fell in love with the craft and stuck with it. A letter came through my door one day inviting tenders for a new flower shop in Piers Gough’s Turquoise Island. I delivered some flowers to the address on the letter and got a call inviting me for an interview, they handed me the keys there and then & the rest is history! The Turquoise Island was the birth place of Wild at Heart and despite some very exciting openings in the pipeline, the Island will always have a special place in my heart.
We loved the artful combination of smaller bud vases and candles on your dining table – what would be some of your tips for setting up a table?
Bud vases are understandably a popular choice for a tablescape but don’t forget to play with height, both of the vessels and of the flowers. I like to work with flowers that complement the table linen but there really are no rules in my opinion! You can make use of your garden and cut some fresh flowers or order filled bud vases directly from WAH. If you don’t want to miss out on the creative process, then try ordering a WAH bouquet and break this down into smaller bud vases – Rosanna Falconer does this beautifully with our bouquets! Candles are always the finishing touch, use tea lights or tapered candles to take a tablescape from day to night - remember everything looks better by candlelight!
What inspires you?
Everything! My surroundings, nature – I’m hugely inspired by nature and art and fashion. You can take so much inspiration from fashion in terms of colours, textures & styling.
What is the project you’re most proud of to this day?
I’ve worked on some incredible weddings and events all over the world, Lake Como most recently was one of my favourites but a passion project has been our landscaping work at Bicester Village (Value Retail). When they reached out I had no landscaping experience but they loved everything about Wild at Heart & I love a challenge and set about learning everything there was to know. I loved learning even more about nature together with sustainability and permanence. 7 years later and we’re still working together – in fact we’re just weeks away from completing a huge relandscaping project for them.
You were just in Lake Como working on an incredible wedding that looked just stunning! Any other exciting projects coming up?
We actually have another project in Lake Como so I’ll be back before I know it! We also have a beautiful Indian wedding in late summer and the team are currently working on a series of incredible events for one client for 2024. Not to mention, our new Mayfair shop!
The Wild at Heart Foundation runs a number of amazing projects in some of the countries with the largest stray dog population. Please share more about the work that the foundation does.
I set up the Wild at Heart Foundation back in 2015. Fast forward to today, we have a shelter just outside of Tulum in Mexico and we’re supporting animal welfare projects across the world and constantly fundraising to increase our reach. Over three-quarters of the world’s dogs are strays. Research from the World Health Organisation estimates that there are 600 million stray dogs worldwide and numbers are rising daily. The Wild at Heart Foundation is committed to compassionately reducing this figure through sterilisation, education, and welfare programmes. The work we do begins at home though, donating to UK dog food banks and working The Trussell Trust.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LONDON HIDDEN GEM?
I’m not sure it’s a hidden gem but getting lost on Hampstead Heath with my dogs is one of my favourite things to do in London.
WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE?
Tattoos & Harry Styles!
HOW DO YOU UNWIND AFTER A LONG DAY’S WORK?
Either by walking my dogs or escaping with a Netflix series – ideally one followed by the other!
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO PIECE IN YOUR CLOSET THAT YOU SEEM TO GRAVITATE TOWARDS THESE DAYS?
Adidas Gazelles, Acne jumpers & of course my gorgeous new pink Yolke dress!
WE’RE A LITTLE OVER HALFWAY THROUGH THE YEAR, WHAT ARE YOU PROUDEST OF ACHIEVING THIS YEAR AND WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO MOST BEFORE THE YEAR IS OUT?
Probably the Lake Como events we delivered in July with Encore Lifestyle. It was hard work & long days especially during an Italian heatwave – I’m so proud of the work we delivered and my brilliant team who always pull out all the stops. Looking forward? The opening of our new Mayfair store later this year. Though the word “store” doesn’t do it justice, it’s more of a house. The House of Wild at Heart if you will, it’s a very exciting time, a new approach…watch this space!