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Tiny posies for maximum joy

Alexandra Tolmie

Vanessa Conlin is the proprietor of a lovely online business called Posies by Ness. Each weekday morning, she creates a limited number of beautiful posies from the freshest flowers available and delivers them throughout Canberra and Queanbeyan for just $28.

Ness is hilarious, clever and creative, but until recently she wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up. After finishing school she enrolled in nutrition and dietetics at Charles Sturt University, thinking “I’ll be a nutritionist for the Brumbies!”. Ness changed degrees twice before the birth of her daughter Chloe put uni on hold for a while. Although she returned to her studies it wasn’t long before she admitted to herself that it just wasn’t working.

“I don’t like studying, but I really enjoy learning,” she muses. “I’ve done a million MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses]—one about dinosaurs because Chloe is into them, and one about epigenetics. I did this kind of stuff at uni but I was so unmotivated. Now I do it for the pure joy of learning.”

Ness moved back to Canberra for a job that she was really excited about, but it didn’t end up being what she thought it was going to be.

“After five months I just thought ‘I’m the wrong person for this job’ and that’s when this came up,” she explains. It was a little spark of an idea from her older brother, who has quite a knack for business (he and his wife are the talented duo behind Canberra’s Mel Hill Photography).

“His exact words were, ‘how do you fancy yourself as a florist?’ and I just thought ‘yep, I can do that!’. A couple of weeks later we started trading.”

While there are a few similar small businesses in Sydney and Melbourne, there was nothing like it in Canberra.

Ness says, “I’ve ordered flowers lots of times and I never know if it’s been delivered, I never know what it really looks like, and I’m not particularly inspired by the arrangements—you know those fluoro boxes and neon papers and the like. I did a lot of research and a lot of reading and worked out a way to have minimal waste and maximum joy—tiny posies—amateur and simple.”

In fact, the simplicity of Posies by Ness is part of the appeal—they’re so authentic it’s almost like someone has picked the flowers out of their own garden and handed them to you.

Ness laughs, “It’s like when Chloe picks a dandelion for me out of nowhere—it’s small and fleeting, but so meaningful. I suppose the concept of my posies is more about the thought or the gesture than the actual flowers.”

Ness’ creative side has always been bubbling under the surface.

“For some reason I’ve always felt like I should be going to university, even though no one else in my family before me did. I never really acknowledged that I was creative until quite recently.”

She is very new to floristry, and enthuses, “I will definitely be doing some training because I do want to improve my skills”.

Bursting with positivity and optimism, for Ness there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback.

“Yeah I’ll be right”, she laughs, “my mantra is: leap and the net shall fall.”

So I ask Ness about the catalyst for her leap into small business. As a single mum who wasn’t very happy in her job, Ness couldn’t reconcile the fact that she was putting her daughter in before and after school care just so she could go to a job she didn’t enjoy.

“I think sometimes you need to have a really bad job to realise what’s most important to you,” she explains. “I didn’t like the fact that it seemed every other human under the sun was raising my child except me, and I wanted to show Chloe that if you’re miserable you can take action and change your situation. My Mum has always told us ‘you can do whatever you want, as long as you enjoy it.’”

When told hold how inspiring she is, Ness just shakes her head. “People keep saying that but I can’t see it. It was a shitty time. It just made sense to me to get out of there.”

In her dream world Ness’ full-time job would be stand-up comedy.

“I call it a hobby but I really really love it,” she smiles. Ness competed in the Raw Comedy 2015 ACT State Final recently and also has a gig at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. She’s a huge comedy fan, with a particular soft spot for Will Anderson, Judith Lucy and other Australian comedians.

“I like to do a lot of writing. I do stand-up comedy. It is cool to be a little bit creative. You really don’t have to just be one thing.”

Ness takes Chloe to and from school in a car filled with posies. Chloe helps her with deliveries or reads her current library book and Ness sees it as a really special time with her daughter.

“When you have white space, where you’re not doing or saying anything—sometimes that’s when the most important stuff comes out,” says Ness. “People may raise their eyebrows but I definitely don’t see it as a bad thing.”

As for her plans for the future, Ness says they’re planning to expand sooner rather than later. She’s very keen to start looking towards sourcing flowers from local growers. “What I would love to do is get whatever’s fresh and whatever’s in season and just do things locally as much as I can,” she reveals.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what this inspiring woman is going to achieve in the near future. In the meantime you can order a sweet posy for someone deserving and have it hand delivered by Ness herself!

The essentials

What: Posies by Ness
Where: Delivered all throughout Canberra but online orders only
How much: $28 including delivery


Alex Tolmie

Alex is the founder and co-chair of the Department of Education and Training Women's Network and a mum of two gorgeous little girls. She has overcome big challenges as a new mother and now loves to help others become confident, joyful mamas themselves. She blogs about her experience at More about the Author

  • CAIT

    Product wasn’t delivered on the day. My mum waited 3 days! Very disappointed with the lack of communication. Not sure if I will use this service again. My mum definitely won’t

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