Industry leadership: Scarlet & Violet, London, UK

From the outside, London’s Scarlet & Violet is a much-loved and well-stocked flower shop. But behind the scenes, the business is a sustainability champion. And to make sure the changes stick, it has enrolled all members of staff in the SFN course Foundation in Sustainable Floristry.


Images: Catherine Gratwicke 

Scarlet & Violet’s shopfront, in the heart of London’s leafy, bohemian Kensal Rise, is jam-packed with flowers and foliage. Their signature natural style spills onto the street like an overgrown garden.

Customers watch as their arrangement is created – hand-tied or in-vase. Purchases come with simple gift-wrapping or a reusable vessel. The business also takes orders through the website and phone, and delivers throughout the London metro area.

Scarlet & Violet was founded by director Victoria Brotherson in 2006. The business built steadily from Vic’s solo start — at one stage, over 20 people were employed. Then, in 2018, the business reduced its events side to focus on creating a vibrant high street shop. Individual orders, daily deliveries, small events and house flowers keep the team busy with blooms.

Sustainability had long been a focus for the team, but it wasn’t formally integrated into the business.

That process began in early 2023, when accountant Emma Brant started formulating Scarlet & Violet’s sustainability aims. Emma completed a business and climate change course at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, using the business as a case study.

Soon, Rosie Pratt came on board as Scarlet & Violet’s full-time sustainability officer. Rosie is a florist who had previously worked for the company before going on to receive a master’s degree in Agriculture, Ecology and Environment. Then, in early 2024, Vic and Rosie embarked on the SFN’s Foundation in Sustainable Floristry course, which Rosie discovered via the Sustainable Cut-Flowers Project.

The course was the final piece of the sustainable puzzle. It validated decisions the team had already made while deepening their understanding of their current environmental impact and providing the tools to reduce it. 

“The course was really well-informed, calling on a range of sources, both in and outside the floristry industry,” says Rosie. “It presented the areas of concern without sugar-coating the pill, and it helped us to understand what we can actually do to contribute less to these. I finished the course feeling clear about what I was doing, confident in the decisions we were making and excited to make positive changes.”

Dr Jill Timms and Professor David Bek are co-leads for the Sustainable Cut-Flowers Project and feature in the SFN Foundation in Sustainable Floristry training course.

Vic, Rosie and Emma from Scarlet & Violet are setting a new standard for floristry by embedding the SFN's Design and Business Principles into their London business.

“I was totally engaged from the start as I think it is  direct and informative but also rooted in floristry,” adds Vic. “I  was relieved to hear that the things we had started to put in place were right. There was an understanding that it may not be possible to offer everything to everyone all the time and how we must develop a language and tone that educates and we change things rather than just saying yes or no.” 

The course allowed the team to develop a more nuanced sustainability plan.

“Before properly looking into our supply chain, I had always imagined that the biggest concern was air-miles,” Rosie explains. “From what I have read, and from what I learnt on the course, it is far more complicated than this. Although not perfect, we have now come up with a buying strategy, prioritising British farms, and then farms with social and environmental certifications.”

In January 2024, the company formally embarked on a twelve-month sustainability project. Alongside the buying strategy, it includes commitments to recycled packaging, renewable energy, and employee standards like the London Living Wage. The company measures and benchmarks its carbon footprint so it can demonstrate progress over time. 

The plan is published on Scarlet and Violet’s website, and is transparent about sustainability measures the company is still working on – like finding a replacement for cellophane and designing a returnable vase scheme.

The next priority? Sharing the knowledge. Scarlet & Violet offered a place on the course to all their permanent staff. When they all took up that offer, Vic was “bloody delighted”. 

We want the sustainability project to involve as many people as possible, so that we can get real momentum going, sharing ideas and concerns,” says Rosie. “Everyone who works here will be seeing changes happening around them, some of which are going to be causing more work/hassle, so it is important that everyone understands why these changes are happening.


“The fact that staff will have their own certificate at the end is a great thing, as those who are freelancing can then take what they have learnt to each new job they take on.” 

Scarlet & Violet Director, Vic Brotherson


‘Communicate with Community’ is one of the SFN Design and Business Principles explored through the course. So having everyone on the same page is very much in keeping with what it means to practise ‘sustainable floristry’.

“It is also important that the customer-facing side of Scarlet & Violet is aware of the company’s sustainability aims and can communicate them to customers,” Vic points out.  “The fact that staff will have their own certificate at the end is a great thing, as those who are freelancing can then take what they have learnt to each new job they take on.”

An investment in staff training — and sustainability in particular — is not just the hallmark of an excellent employer, but a good business strategy.  For Vic and the team, having everyone on the same page with some fundamental ideas about why the business is adopting certain practices ultimately makes good sense.

“We work in an industry that is so linked to nature and we spend all our time trying to recreate it all,” says Vic. “It is blinkered and crazy to try and justify a different way forward, other than working alongside the work that SFN and others have done to ensure we are supporting the planet and not ploughing into its resources.”

“The commitment from Rita and Ginger to have put this course together is massive and the time and effort  extraordinary. [The course] is an in-depth piece of investigation, full of revelations, information  – I mean I sound like a groupie but if you do this course it will save  an enormous amount of time. And then from there it’s up to us what we do.”

Scarlet & Violet Director, Vic Brotherson