BREATHING in the scent of her favourite bouquet, Corinne Jullian can’t get any happier.
“There is something so wonderful about flowers – everyone loves them,” says the woman who has launched her own floristry business.
Behind that smile though, this florist has a secret that few people know about.
Just five years ago Corinne worked as a high-powered doctor, admired by everyone in the community as she worked around the clock to treat patients in her own private surgery as well as in hospital.
But the 47-year-old mum-of-two has come to realise, though she may not get the same VIP treatment when people catch sight of her soil-stained fingers and discover what she does for a living, she is happier now.
“I have radically changed my life to follow my passion. Life couldn't be any more different but I have never been happier even though I am treated differently.
“When you change your career, you change your social position. When you are a doctor, people respect you and they look at you in a certain way but you don’t know if it’s true or not because now, when I say I’m a florist, that look is completely different.
“I think we live in a society where people judge a lot but it’s crazy because no matter what job you do or who you are, you’re exactly the same person.
“Though people looked up to me when I was a doctor, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know now if someone takes the time to talk to me, it is genuine, it’s for the person I am, not what I do."
Corinne and her husband Herve, an oncologist based at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, moved to England from France five years ago to give their two teenage sons the chance to learn English.
But Corinne also leapt at the opportunity to change her life.
Before, a medical specialist in allergies based in Aix-en-Provence, she was always under pressure.
“Life before was very intense. I had a lot of responsibility, I was on call all the time and of course, it was very high-pressure. I worked and there was no end. Sometimes I would be called out at 10pm.
“Family life almost became something on the side.
“In France it’s really hard to change your career but in England, it’s culturally more accepted so I was determined to take that step and follow my heart.”
Corinne, whose grandparents ran a nursery in France, decided to turn her life-long flower arranging hobby into a career.
In 2011 she went back to college where she studied floristry and spent three years working in various shops, including one in Covent Garden to both perfect her English skills and gain invaluable practical knowledge of the industry.
Last year she set up her own business Corinne Jullian Atelier Floral Art based in Winchester. She designs and supplies arrangements for all occasions and also offers a range of courses to share her knowledge.
Every Friday and Saturday she is based outside celebrity hairdresser Guy Kremer’s salon in Stonemasons Court, Parchment Street, Winchester, where, instead of paying rent, she donates money to the Al Lewis Trust, set up for quadruple amputee Alex Lewis who lost all four limbs after a cold developed into a flesh-eating bug.
“When I decided to stop my career, it was a very hard financial decision but like they say, money can’t buy you happiness.
“Flower arranging used to be my passion and when I did it, I would switch off and just be happy, enjoying the moment.
“Undoubtedly I’ve had a lot to learn and it’s been hard because it comes with its own pressures particularly running your own business but I’m so much more relaxed now I am doing what I love doing. I am a very practical person and love creating with my hands.
“I love the contact with people and I love sharing my passion for flowers,” says Corinne.
“I’m blessed too that I have the support of my family. When we arrived in England, my sons said ‘we are a family now.’ “When I give them advice now and say to them ‘you have to do what you love’, I know just how important that is.
"It is of course scary going into the unknown, for me being a doctor was much easier because it's all I've ever known, but if you are passionate about something that risk is definitely worth taking. I know I will never look back.”
For information go to corinnejullianflowers.com