She is the green thumb behind the beautiful florals surrounding Eleanor Pendleton on our Issue 25 cover, and also masterminded the flowers for last year’s A New League event – so we asked Rheannon Lee from Rheannon Lee Floral Designs to share her botanical know-how.
Have you had a lifelong love affair with flowers?
I have always loved flowers, even as a little girl. Funny enough, one of my first words was ‘agapanthus’! I used to follow my Grampie around our garden and say it over and over. I also had bedspreads, clothes and even school books covered in flowers. You would think I would have known I was going to become a florist.
Can you tell us about your early career path?
I studied graphic design and had a lot of creative jobs within creative agencies and magazine companies. At the age of 24, I decided I wanted to study floristry. The more I learned, the more things came naturally. I knew I was heading down the right path and leaving the office world behind me wasn’t a mistake. I didn’t realise how passionate I was about it until I started taking more and more flower jobs on board.
When did you branch out and launch your own brand and business?
I worked for a couple of different florists over a few years, as learning on the job is the best way to understand how things work. Learning what to do and what not to from other team members and managers was a massive part of the role, especially when starting out in a new field. After about four years working for other people, I took the plunge in 2010 and decided to start my own business. I have been growing ever since. I started my online business and worked from a garage space. After three years, we found the perfect little pocket store in Clovelly, Sydney, and built it from the ground up to what it is today.
What has been the biggest lesson?
With floristry, you’re always learning. Throughout your study years at TAFE, they teach you the basics. When you’re actually on site up a ladder and suspending flowers from the roof or draping flowers around a pole, you learn fast. Every event, every wedding, I have learnt something without fail – from how to pack the van differently, or suspend the flowers at different angles to even hiring a massive ford transit van 12 hours before the event.
Everything I learn I take on board for the next event, which is a great thing to have in the back of your mind.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
The alarm goes off at 3am (yes, 3am). After pressing snooze once, I’m up and getting ready. I head out the door by 3.45am. Heading out to the markets at Flemington involves a lot of upbeat and bouncy music. That’s the only thing that can get me there at that time. After waiting in the queue at the market, they finally let us in. Next, I grab an early morning coffee to get me thinking about my flower list that is around two pages in length. Then I pick up all orders I have placed with the growers and pick up any other flowers I need for the shop. l leave the markets by 7am and drive back to Clovelly. Then depending on what events or orders we have on, we prioritise each job and get it done, along with setting up the shop for the customers. We are usually there until 6pm at night. If we have a couple of big jobs on, we don’t leave until we have finished.
What are your favourite projects to work on?
I love working of events and weddings where the client says they want me to go wild with my creative flair and do whatever I think is best. A lot of my clients know how left-field I can go, and that I think very much out of the square. It’s even more exciting when I have big projects to build on site. I can have one idea in mind when driving to the venue and then the flowers, branches and leaves all just fall into place in a completely different way and it looks 10 times better than the original plan. Then the client is 100 times happier than they originally were. This is because, as I say, “We only do amazing.”
How do you most like to collaborate with clients?
I usually like to meet with the client to go through ideas and what they are thinking. I like to look at their theme, colours and we bounce ideas off each other. As sometimes flowers aren’t in season, we go through every possible solution and come up with the best idea for the event. Most people come to me and say they have no idea about flowers.
What was your inspiration for the stunning flower wall on the Collective Hub cover featuring Eleanor Pendleton?
I was approached by the stylist, Rebecca Riegger, and she told me she needed a flower wall created out of real and dried flowers. I had a look at what I had on hand and then had a think about flowers that were in season. With the combination of such different textures I knew they would all complement each other and really stand out against the wall. With the stunning white outfit Eleanor wore, the flowers just tied in nicely.
If you could have one combination of flowers in your home or office every day for a year what would it be?
I absolutely love spring time and all the fragrances and colours. It makes the shop feel so vibrant and I feel so happy with all the beautiful flowers around me. If I could have spring flowers all year round that would be a dream! The fragrance of jasmine just reminds me that summer is just around the corner. It is such a strong smell and makes the ambience of any room come alive.