Fresh like a daisy.
Once reserved for Valentine’s Day and sick grannies, flowers have found their way into our homes, offices and Instagram feeds. Fortunately, cellophane and rainbow roses have been replaced with unique architectural designs and flora, as a new generation of Australian florists rock the industry, reclaiming their work as an art form.
Kayla Moon is the director of Melbourne-based florist Xxflos. Discovering her love of flowers while using gardening to blend in, she claims eight years in the industry and a manifesto outlining her position that floristry is an art form, not just a craft.
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Originally a makeup artist, Ness Scarkie discovered a talent – and a market – for wreaths for the brides she worked with. Soon the floral side of the business quickly moved beyond makeup and she expanded her offering by launching The Nesst in 2011.
Building on a career with flowers from a young age, Sheridan Gretta Holzworth honed her craft at one of Sydney’s top experimental florists, Hermetica. Finding her niche in creating whimsical designs, she returned to Brisbane and launched her baby, Fiflar Floral.
India Robinson of Blossm Bby attributes her unique designs to a lack of ‘traditional’ training and boasts a cult following through her milk crate designs, working regularly with brands like Suku Home and Sans Beast.
Speaking to these four talented Australian florists, I began to understand the need for industry-wide change in the face of the current environmental crisis. In the western world, around 80% of the flowers you find in florists are imported – when you factor in the carbon released by transportation, things quickly get unsustainable.
But this new cohort of florists aims to change that, and while changing consumer perceptions of floristry has not been easy, and the industry still faces challenges when it comes to waste, it is heartwarming to know that these florists consider sustainable development practices to be integral. to the longevity of their art form. With this generation’s dedication to educating customers, it seems the industry is in safe (and very skillful) hands.
The hashtag #floraldesign has more than five million posts on Instagram. Has Instagram been a catalyst in changing people’s perception of floristry and valuing it more as an art form?
Ness Scharkie: Definitely, there has been a huge movement within the flower community using Instagram to educate consumers on the value of flower arrangements. It’s not just a bunch of flowers that have been thrown together, it’s years of investment on the part of the creator. Complex mechanics, 3am departures, and money spent finding quality flowers are all investments in art and I think people are starting to understand that.
Kayla Moon: Instagram has helped by connecting with the duality of floristry. It both provides a platform to display your work as a gallery, while also allowing you to link to a product on a website. Manufacturers across all industries benefit as it allows us to showcase our work to a growing fan base, while helping to connect with new customers.
India Robinson: It certainly helped people see flowers as a way to create a real art form. It’s a really exciting time to be in the industry, alongside many other amazing designers expressing their art through other mediums as well, not just through flowers. We all push ourselves to think bigger. Instagram has helped people recognize the versatility of flowers and how they can be reused as everlasting and ever-changing works of art.
Has unlimited exposure to other florists via Instagram helped or hinder the development of your personal style?
Sheridan Gretta Holzworth: It can sometimes make you feel like you have to chase current trends, but at the end of the day people aren’t paying for it. People pay for creative service, that’s what I want to deliver. Using my own eye and my experience, I create true artistic pieces.
KM: Elements of both, because while it’s great for inspiration, it’s also easy to fall into the comparison trap. I try to remember to celebrate design principles in the work of others, rather than comparing my work to others. Instagram also gives you better access to see when other people have borrowed from your work, which I choose to use as motivation for new ideas rather than angering me.
NS: Sometimes I have fallen into the trap of questioning my work and not posting because of it. But then I found out how helpful Instagram was for manifesting the customers I wanted for my business. Ultimately, it’s important to remember to embrace your own talent.
How have you adapted to increase the sustainability of your work?
NS: After I started with delivering bouquets, I started to feel deeply sick of the waste created, so I spent time researching sustainable alternatives. It is often more expensive, but the benefits to the planet and my mental space were worth it. Today, around 80% of my practices are carried out in a sustainable manner; even my greeting cards are printed on recycled paper.
IR: At Blossm Bby, we make every effort to cut our orders 24 hours prior to the delivery date to ensure we only buy what we need. We never throw the products away, and if there is any left over, we dry them and resell them. It’s a constant balance between staying true to the Blossm Bby aesthetic, while remaining sustainable and factored into our approach.
SGH: During the lull in business when COVID-19 hit, I focused on ways to increase sustainability in my job, especially by reducing my floral foam. [an extremely absorbent foam that’s used to keep arrangements hydrated and to support a flower or foliage stem in the desired position. Unfortunately, it’s made of plastic and is non-biodegradable, often being discarded after one use.] One of the biggest ways to reduce negative impacts is to buy locally rather than import, which can be easy or difficult depending on how many local producers you have access to.
Do you think the floral industry could do more as a whole to become more sustainable?
SGH: Yes, basically if you use it people will ask for it. If you are constantly making arbors with floral foam, this is what people will ask for. Creating beautiful pieces in a sustainable way shows customers that they can achieve the look they are looking for in a way that is also good for the planet.
KM: Absolutely. If we do away with the use of plastic bags, it makes no sense to continue to use plastic packaging for flowers. In addition, building relationships with local producers must be a priority. It is difficult to say “ no ” to a customer because a particular flower is out of season, knowing that they can simply buy it elsewhere who have chosen to import it. So I think we really need to see a collective change within the industry to avoid importing.
Have you seen customers take more interest in sustainability when choosing their flowers and florists?
IR: I know from experience that nine times out of ten, knowing that a flower is imported will not deter the customer from buying it. There has been a lot of discussion within the industry about the popularity of imported products and it has been vocalized that you have to choose a side on how you feel. I believe it is up to us as florists to educate our customers on the safe disposal of potentially toxic preserved products.
KM: The downside to the artistic factor may be that more customers want the ‘trendy’ flowers, whatever the season. Most consumers don’t know how unsustainable the flower industry can be, so it’s up to us as florists to change our practices and educate our customers.
Want to learn more about sustainable floristry? Try that.