Most days, I barely have a chance to run a brush through my hair before…
The Hackett shops, once tired and empty, are enjoying a renaissance.
Where there was once a deserted lane, now stands a bustling café, restaurant and bike shop, coaxing residents from across the Inner North to Hackett. And with the opening of its newest resident, they have even more reason to stay a while.
Occupying a corner spot that gives passers-by a front row seat to the day’s floral selections, Saint Valentine opened earlier this month under the discerning eye of florist Rachel Wallis. A chic, curated space that any suburb would ache for, Rachel’s services don’t just stop at bouquets but encompass a wide range of plants, herbs, gifts and even jewellery.
For Rachel, the space fittingly represents fresh beginnings and bold choices after a mid-career change brought her to floral design.
“I was a social worker, working in child protection for two years in Canberra and then went on to work in disability and mental health,” she explains.
While Rachel was passionate about her career, the nature of the work took a toll and at the start of 2016 she knew she was facing a burnout. Unsure of where to turn, Rachel’s partner Gabe suggested that she simply devote herself to doing something that nourished her.
“Just before I quit, Gabe said I should do something that I looked forward to each week, so I decided to do floristry at CIT.”
Graduating from CIT at the end of 2016, Rachel started selling flowers at the Old Bus Depot Markets each Sunday, connecting with other local producers and relishing the freedom her new career gave her.
“It was the best decision ever,” she says. “I love being creative and contributing to the local community”
Rachel explains that while creativity runs in her family, her own inspiration was best expressed through physical and tactile elements.
“Floristry seemed like an artistic-but-practical, hands-on thing to do and I love the colours, the textures and shapes.”
Rachel has always wanted to open her own gift shop and after taking the leap to lease the space in Hackett, Rachel says the name Saint Valentine was suggested by Gabe.
“I said I wanted something that was romantic and that connected not just with flowers but also boutique gifts and plants, evoking images of wild elegance,” she explains.
It’s a fitting name, as the space has been lovingly curated to be the perfect space for shoppers to handpick local and interstate wares for their loved ones, along with a posy or even a tomato plant.
Inside, under an eye-catching feature wall of antique botanical illustrations sits a display of jewellery from Zoe’s Buttons and A Silver Circle and resin art by Grace Louise. Across the room, next to a table laden with fresh flowers and greenery sits a tall shelf of gift options, most of which have been sourced from local makers.
There are candles from Little Flame Co and Lumi, soap from Maple Soaps and Aedel, pottery from Grey Box, Bot Dots and Sue Hewat, soft toys from My Menagerie and Blue Radish linen tea towels, which are screen printed in Hackett.
For Rachel, it’s all about supporting other small businesses in the way that she herself would like to be supported.
“The majority of our products are from Canberra,” she says. “some from Sydney and Melbourne but I am passionate about sourcing quality products and supporting local talent.”
It’s almost enough to distract you from the gorgeous selection of blooms that sit on specially made boygirlco recycled pallet tables. Almost.
Even though Saint Valentine has been open for just under a month, Rachel has already worked on weddings and is working with Palace Electric to supply weekly bouquets. Those wanting to ship to a special someone can do so via their website (saintvalentinecbr.com.au) with bouquets starting from $25 and Canberra wide same day delivery (surrounding areas by request).
Or, if Rachel’s story has inspired you, you can attend one of her seasonal workshops happing in November, which include Hand-Tied Posies, Working with Natives and building your very own Native Christmas Wreath. See the website for details.
What: Saint Valentine
Where: 2B, 1-5 Hackett Place, Hackett
When: Tuesday – Thursday 10:30am – 5:30pm, Friday 10:30am – 7pm, Saturday 10am – 3pm and Sunday 10am – 1pm
Photography: Tim Bean Photography
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