Virgin StartUp of the week: Pumpkin and Pye

Flowers are beautiful, but they don't last forever. This is where Natasha Gawthorne of Pumpkin and Pye comes in. She creates beautiful bouquets out of an imaginative range of materials that won't wilt, creating an alternative to fresh flowers that's also a beautiful keepsake. Let's find out more!

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson?

Richard B in lift

Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does

I design and make alternative bouquets for an international wedding market, offering buttons, brooches and artificial flowers as an alternative to fresh flowers.

Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?

I live and work in Exeter in sunny Devon. I am lucky to work from home, as does my photographer husband, and we share our home with 6 cats, 4 chickens and 2 ducks!

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

My clients view my work on Etsy and my website, and then contact me to start planning their one-off bespoke piece of art to carry on their wedding day.  My creations are not just for a bride but also extra pieces for her bridesmaids and buttonholes, and I can create corsages for the groom and his party. I ship worldwide, so it's ideal for destination weddings.

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

I have identified several competitors worldwide, some established far longer than me, but none offering the width of range of my products. Many hobbyists will come and go as sellers, but with a good marketing strategy and a quality product I hope to shine through.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

My USP is that I not only create button bouquets but also silk, artificial and brooch bouquets. I also work with nearly any idea the customer can envisage. I have created anything from bouquets made from small toys to replica sweets, and even car parts! My themed bouquets span a wide range, including popular Alice in Wonderland bouquets through to the more specialized Day of the Dead and Nightmare before Christmas range.


Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

As a fully qualified and trained florist of 17 years, I took my skills from floristry to what I identified as an emerging market in fresh flower alternatives. Without the short life of fresh flowers the limitations of seasons and the waste, I have evolved my floristry skills to a different level and market.

Floor 6 to 7 –How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?


Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

Some of the money will enable me to take a stand at a large wedding show at The NEC. The National Wedding Show will showcase my products to a bigger UK market as well as to wedding planners from overseas destination weddings.The remainder will be put into a marketing drive and possibly spent with popular wedding blogs. I have the ideas, the skill and the materials - I just need the reach to achieve my goals.

Floor 8 to 9  – What’s your workspace like?

Super creative, filled with Kilner jars full of vintage buttons. I also have several old architects’ drawers overflowing with lace, ribbon and silk flowers. I have a lovely summer house at the bottom of our garden and this is my workshop and creative space (in the summer!)


Floor 9 to 10 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?

In 12 months time, with the help from Virgin Start Up, I envisage that Pumpkin and Pye will be the market leaders for alternative bouquets in the world. I have already sold my work in over 12 countries and I hope to continue to expand and keep making my brides' dream bouquets become a reality.

To find out more about Pumpkin and Pye visit their website, or connect on Twitter and Facebook. Pumpkin & Pye are supported by Virgin StartUp delivery partner Enterprise First.