I’ve always loved being in nature.
Working in Paris is always inspiring. It’s the simple things like walking the streets, sitting in terraces with friends, buying all the delicious summer fruits, and adventuring by day and night.
I remember the night before Nuit Blanche, the all-night arts festival, some friends and I climbed to the top of a church and had a private viewing of this incredible artwork trailing down from the ceiling.
And of course, I loved the gardens.
I grew up in Australia helping my nonno in the garden. I was curious about the beauty and the scent of each flower. For me, it all started with a desire to grow things.
After university, I worked at a creative agency. I was a junior there, but observed and learned from the founder about how to run a business. It never occurred to me then that floristry could be a career. Yet in my spare time, I began to collate all the photos I was taking and the articles about gardening, design, and flowers I was bookmarking into a little blog. I called it The Secret Garden.
This was when I started to come across some seriously incredible florists online, Amy Merrick being one who I still very much admire. I discovered floristry wasn’t all shop work, but could be an incredibly creative outlet with a less traditional day to day work life. It was something of an art form.
In 2013, I decided to take a break from my life in Sydney and I moved to Paris. I didn’t originally intend on working, but after deciding to stay longer than I planned, I needed a job.
There was a florist shop owned by (stay with me) my French best friends’ mother’s cousins. I had visited it before and fell in love with it. Guillon Fleurs was a cave filled with flowers creeping around every corner. My friends hassled the two sisters to let me come in for work experience, and they reluctantly said yes to this random Australian girl. But we quickly got along well and they seemed to appreciate my enthusiasm and work ethic. I ended up working there for a couple of months before I returned to Sydney for Christmas with rough plans to return and work for them again in the new year.
When I arrived in Sydney for Christmas I was lucky enough to be introduced by a mutual friend to the amazing Jardine Hansen from Jardine Botanic. Her style of flowers was more aligned with mine, and so I stayed in Sydney to become her assistant.
At this point I also took a job working for a landscape gardener, as I was still trying to figure out exactly which path I wanted my career to go. Eventually I realized flowers were the life for me, and Jardine encouraged me to start my own business. Sometimes you just have to take the leap, so after nearly two years of working for Jardine I did it.
Going from a regular paycheck to suddenly freelance is daunting, but I’ve always been pragmatic about it. If it works out, it works out, and luckily it has! Definitely there was some fear for the future – whether I would want to be doing the slog of 4am starts and long days forever or when children come along, but I decided that if you’re flexible enough your business will grow and move with you.
My work is about half weddings and half corporate clients. I work with a variety of PR and event companies, fashion and beauty clients, and publications. People are often surprised by the setup of my business. I don’t have a shop front for example, but I feel like this works best for me. I love the variety of my days and it allows me to enjoy (or at least try to) a more balanced life.
I sometimes have to remind myself to have greater confidence in my work. It helps to look back at my output to illustrate to myself that actually I really love the work that I do and I do think I have a talent for it. But a part of that attitude helps me stand out from others and pushes me to want to get better, take more risks, and achieve greater beauty for my clients.
I like to be present for the process with flowers. It’s important to be hands on at all stages from going to the market, to arranging, installing, and even bump out. This would be difficult to do if the business became too huge. Don’t get me wrong, I still want my business to grow and develop, but I want it to stay a very personal and creative project for me. }
One of the things I really value in my life and work are my friendships. It’s so important to me to have interesting, kind, and varied people around. I guess we all look out for each other. There’s a lot of power in that togetherness. I am naturally a social person and am often trying to fit in seeing too many people, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Images via Jardine Hansen and Instagram, *as told to Josie Gleave
Sophia Kaplan is a Sydney based florist and co-owner of Leaf Supply, an indoor plant delivery service.