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Behind The Scenes With Canberra Florist Peony n’ Pearl

Molly McLaughlin

Judging by her Insta feed, local florist Fionna Tamin’s daily life is full of gorgeous flowers and happy brides, but there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes of this one-woman show.

Fionna works from home, in a garage that she has converted into her studio, meaning her house is constantly perfumed by the smell of flowers. Unfortunately, she spends so much time working with them she can’t smell it anymore. This is not particularly surprising, when you consider the fact that she can work on up to five weddings per week depending on the time of year.

“My life is always different,” she explains. “In the busy season, the major chunk of the actual floristry work is admin and paperwork, and to fit all that in while you’re trying to do floristry work is difficult, but you’ve got to do it. I wish I had a routine because that would be more efficient, but you can’t tell people when to get married!”

Fionna

Before she can start the actual floristry, Fionna begins the process by meeting with her clients in person.

“I take note of what they’re wearing and how they talk and how they interact to get a little bit of their personality. I find talking about specific flowers is not really helpful.

“There’s aura in that personality, and there’s colour in that, which I can use. There’s nothing that stresses me out more than a client who wants to know exactly what every flower is, because you have to look beyond that.”

During wedding season, Fionna drives to Sydney to buy her produce from the Sydney Flower Market most weeks.

“It’s probably a little bit extreme and not all florists do it, but I drive down on Tuesday afternoon and then get up at three in the morning and arrive at the market before they open.

“The main motivation for me is I want to see what I’m buying, but more and more I’m finding I’m familiar with the growers and importers, and I think it’s really important that I build a relationship with them. Knowing that they grow the flowers themselves means a lot to me, even if I can just ask them how their garden is going.”

After driving back to Canberra on Wednesday, both Fionna and the flowers need a break.

“I usually spend the whole day taking all the flowers out of the car and doing post-care, you strip all the leaves and cut the stems and put it in clean water and things like that, and just to let them rest because they’ve been travelling then put them in the fridge or in my garage.”

Then the mammoth task of flower arrangement begins.

Image via Instagram @estellaphoto

“I spend Thursday and Friday working on them, arranging them, which usually goes from the moment I finish breakfast until dinner time or maybe even longer depending on how big the order is.”

By the time she delivers the flowers to the weddings (or other events) on the weekend, Fionna has spent so much time with them she feels almost more invested in the result than her clients.

“I love presenting the flowers to the bride, because it’s their day and usually when the flowers arrive is when it’s getting real and they realise it’s really happening. I’ll never forget this one crazy weekend when I did five weddings, and in that one day I delivered so many bouquets and saw so many different reactions. Sometimes brides are quite busy, but there are people who tell me that it is more than they could have imagined and that’s amazing.”

Her favourite weddings are the ones where the decoration is a priority.

“I did a wedding at Howling Moon recently, which was amazing because of the mismatched nature of it, the bouquets and even the buttonholes were all different, and the room was amazing. A lot of people just think ‘Oh it’s going to die anyway, I don’t want anything too extravagant,’ which I have trouble dealing with.

“I think people don’t understand how much impact the flowers could potentially make. After I do my calculations and come back with a floor plan, people usually react like ‘Oh my goodness, you know what you’re doing,” and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I know what I’m doing,’” she laughs.

Image via Instagram @corinnaanddylan

Of course, there is also the small issue of clean-up to deal with when she returns to her studio after her weekend’s deliveries.

“Realistically, every time I come home from a wedding there is just mess everywhere, and I usually do that right away because if my house is not clean I can’t relax. Then on Monday, I start again! I pretty much don’t stop working in wedding season, then in the winter I have my downtime and I’m actually able to respond to emails and things like that.”

Like all small businesses, Fionna is currently trying to find the balance. Her workload keeps growing, thanks to social media and word of mouth, and she is grateful to be able to express creativity as her job.

“I feel like I’ve grown so much, even just this year, and my business has grown from just doing flowers to also doing arches and things like that. I’m a big picture person, and I’m really fortunate that at this stage I’ve produced enough work that people trust me. That means it’s a lot less stressful and I can be more relaxed and creative.”

Images via Instagram @peonynpearl unless otherwise noted

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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