We chatted with Iona and Romy, the Founders of SAGE Flowers, a florist in Peckham. SAGE sells bouquets, glassware and chocs and provides flowers for events.
These two embody nature's spirit through their entrepreneurship. They couldn’t find a florist making flowers in the style they wanted to, so decided to do it themselves!
What's your relationship with nature/flowers?
Bringing nature into urban environments is really important. It’s scientifically proven to be good for us to consume nature, and there are little opportunities to do so in London. Flowers teach us nothing is permanent, and you have to study, watch and learn to use them well. Also patience - a lot of the time they don't do what we want them to and we just have to go with it and be patient that the end product will work - luckily it almost always does.
What are your top 5 favorite things about flowers?
How do you incorporate design into floral arrangements?
We are very influenced by all aspects of design and culture and try to bring that into our floral designs. Inspiration could come from a colour palette on a club flyer, to a bag material on a local market stool, to the shape of a building. There’s so much culture in London, we try to reflect and celebrate that in our work.
How do the seasons change your arrangements?
Flowers are seasonal, so we tend to only have varieties for a few months of the year. This is great as it forces you to constantly come up with new combinations and ideas, but it does mean the winter months can be a little sparse in terms of variety, forcing us to be more creative with what we use and how we use it!
Flowers come to London from all ends of the world, as the demand for flowers is all year round and British grown cannot accommodate that. As an industry, we certainly need to reflect on our contribution to climate change driven by consumerism, much like other industries.
Share with us about the flower market experience!
The flower market is a very long-established, traditional market which moved from Covent Garden to Vauxhall. You can buy flowers in bulk, as well as plants and “floral sundries”, vases, ribbon, wrapping, etc. As it is very traditional, market traders tend to be made up of different generations of the same family. There are many traders working under one roof, some specialising in certain types of flowers or foliage, and others offering a wider selection.
Following the recent BLM movement, we wrote to the market authority (the managers of the market), asking for them to commit to making the market a more diverse and inclusive shopping and employment experience. We’re waiting to hear what their next steps will be.
Tell us about the recent initiative for more diversity and inclusion in the UK floral sector.
We are very aware that the floral industry largely consists of white florists, traders and growers. This needs to change. So we are working with colleagues to try to remove the very real barriers for people of colour getting into and sustaining employment in the industry.
SAGE will be offering a 3-month free training course to POC to help get people started. It'll be a mixture of practical and theory work, giving advice on how to run a business as well as work with flowers.
What has changed in floristry?
Things are becoming more digital, in terms of buying especially. You can order flowers from a wholesaler via an app on your phone now!
We think also a wider variety of people are interested in flowers, younger people and creatives are starting to see them as a medium to work to create sculpture with as opposed to stuffy boring, old fashioned grandma-type arrangements.
Floral trends are moving quicker too, with fashionable trends lasting a season or less in some cases.
How do flowers add to fashion, beauty and food venues or events?
Flowers really elevate a room, they are temporary and delicate, they have moods and meanings. They’re versatile, like paint or clay, and can be used to complement and soften or clash and shock. It all adds to the appeal and can enhance the message you're trying to convey in fashion/ food/ beauty events.
What lessons have you learned throughout the journey?
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