Emily ffrench Blake is Global Director of partnerships at Octopus Energy, budding planting designer, a keen explorer (her previous job at Spotify took her all around the Globe) and an all round woman of impeccable taste.
Emily first met Auree Founder Amelia when they were both at Edinburgh University. Outrageously smart, hard working and always fun, Emily has an extraordinary and hugely inspiring career. During the early stages of the pandemic, she was living with her parents in Dorset to enable them to shield for 12 weeks. Inspired by her love of gardens and flowers, at the weekends Emily collected a cuttings or samples of the flowers, foliage, seed pods and fruits which had appeared during the previous week, arranged and photographed them before putting them into vases around the house. The photos are a diary of the seasons and and Emily has turned her beautiful photos into fundraising postcards, with proceeds divided between The Garden Museum and Trussell Trust food banks.
From Spotify to Gardens, tell us a little bit about yourself ...
I currently live in Canonbury, but do spend as much time as I can in Dorset where most of my family live. Career wise I have worked in technology - first at Google, then Spotify and now at the EnTech firm Octopus. Between Spotify and Octopus I studied Horticulture at Capel Manor and massively caught the bug! When in London you'll mostly find me poking around in my garden or stopping every few steps to admire what's peeking out through a paving stone or crack!
Any tips for those looking to renovate a home or garden?
Live in your property and garden for a while before you decide what to do. I think it's important to get a feel for the place, see how the light comes in and how that changes throughout the day and year. My flat renovation took 2 years and the garden has been in process for the last year.
Favourite time of the day?
I'm a night owl. I love being awake after midnight when most other people are drifting off.
Have you formed any new habits during lockdown?
My passion for plants has reached all new levels of fandom!
Best decision you ever made?
Beginning horticulture and garden design studies in 2019. My great grandmother was and mother is a keen gardener, so I love that idea of carrying that into a new generation to feel connected to my ancestry. My Great Grandmother famously used to carry a spongebag containing nail scissors with her at all times in the most verdant months in order to snip off cuttings of anything she thought looked interesting in order to propagate new plants from them (including a few cuttings of roses in Buckingham Palace!). There is also part of me that feels I have reconnected to my childhood, much of which was spent noodling around in the garden with my chickens and the snails and ladybirds.
This year I really want to...
Complete on a few garden design projects I've got underway and take my studies further.
Where will be the first place you visit when we can travel again?
It's a toss up between California and Greece. I have friends and a new goddaughter I'd like to visit in Cali, as well as the fact there is such diverse landscape across the state to explore. Big Sur, Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite etc. I'm also keen to explore more of the islands in Greece.
What are you reading and watching at the moment?
I've just finished the Rachel Cusk Outline trilogy which I thoroughly enjoyed. The best series I have watched this year is My Brilliant Friend - the soundtrack, acting and styling is simply gorgeous.
Favourite place to have visited?
I was completely blown away by Baalbek in Lebanon. Quite the most striking and well preserved ancient monument I've been lucky to see.
Which Auree pieces would you pack for a weekend away?
I feel naked without wearing some sort of hoop earring. I'm currently crushing on the Dovehouse hoops. Comfortable and simple enough to wear while gardening as well as for cocktails.
Any favourite brands you've recently discovered?
I've lived in Zoe Jordan tracksuits and knitwear over the last year. Comfy, stylish and fun.
I know the best spot in London for....
Escaping the city while in the city is The Garden Museum courtyard garden. A little slice of paradise in central London.
Who do you admire most and why?
I am a super fan of the Swedish popstar Robyn. She's a woman who very much marches to the beat of her own drum and her music is perfection!
If you could give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?