IN CONVERSATION WITH….
JOANNA FROM ALCHEMY FLORAL DESIGNS
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CREATE ALCHEMY FLORAL DESIGN? WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
I created the first incarnation of Alchemy Floral Designs in late 2002 at the age of 18. I ran that as a bricks and mortar shop in Leigh Street, Adelaide – might I add it was well before Leigh Street was the amazing space it is now!
I saw enormous potential in that street all those years ago. I ran my bricks and mortar shop for 3 years until my lease ran out. During that time, I was the in-house florist for many hotels and function venues, I built it up to be a very successful business.
Due to my age, it was suggested that I take part in the South Australian Young Entrepreneur Scheme (SAYES) that Business SA were running at the time. It gave me an amazing insight into other facets of business that I hadn’t already experienced. I was also asked to represent them at a ‘Youth Leadership’ event that was sponsored by the United Nations. It was an amazing experience!
At the age of 22 I decided that I wanted a new challenge so I moved to the UK where I lived, worked and met my husband Jared. I’m now a Mother to an amazing little boy called Max. I decided to get the band back together (so to speak) after my Godfather passed away early last year. My Godmother phoned me and was absolutely disgusted and distraught at the cost of basic set of flowers that she’d been quoted for his funeral. I told her not to worry and that I’d take care of them for her.
That one event inspired me to come back into the industry with one focus; to make beautiful flowers that everybody could afford. I started up again just doing affordable yet beautiful funeral work, now I’ve taken to the wedding industry with my beautiful $95 wedding bouquets.
They have proven to be so popular that the range keeps expanding with more and more combinations at an amazing price. I’ve also taken advantage of the advances in technology since 2003. Back then, I designed the website from scratch and it was much more difficult to have a retail presence online. It wasn’t really something that people invested much time on. I saw it was the way forward and tried to have a really unique website.
The thing I love most about what I do is to be able to create amazing spaces and designs for people without them having to spend a fortune. Like I said earlier, you shouldn’t have to pay an enormous amount of money to have beautiful and good quality flowers. I put my heart and soul into everything I do and hopefully it shows!
WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHER FLORAL/EVENT DESIGNERS?
What sets me apart is the vision I have. I can walk into a space and design it in my head and then make it a reality. The pricing that I have is also a huge advantage. I run my business solely online so I don’t have the overheads that other businesses have, and can therefore keep costs down for my customers.
I try and photograph most of my work and share it with my online community. I think sharing my work so people can see what I do is a plus for my business. My customers know that I only send out the most perfect product possible. That and my attention to detail with brides is what is giving me an enormous amount of word of mouth referrals.
I was lucky enough to train as a Commercial Florist whilst working at one of the most elite florist shops in Adelaide. That set me up with a great foundation of technical knowledge and also practical experience.
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT GOES INTO PUTTING TOGETHER FLORAL DESIGN FOR AN EVENT? HOW MUCH TIME ON AVERAGE DO YOU INVEST IN A CONCEPT OR DESIGN?
I spend several hours working out concepts, quoting and sourcing the best available materials. Actually creating the design, depends on the style and size and type of event. It can range from 2 to 30 hours depending on the occasion.
WHAT DO YOUR CLIENTS NEED TO CONSIDER THE MOST WHEN COMING TO YOU FOR A QUOTE? WHAT IS THE MOST ASKED QUESTION YOU RECEIVE?
The most important consideration for customers these days is cost. Weddings are so expensive when you add up all of the separate parts, and people seem to be comforted in the fact that the majority of my pricing is listed online on my website, shop facebook page and instagram.
This is not something that is common in the wedding industry. It’s all very protected or hidden by each supplier. I feel that the customer ends up losing out as there’s no transparency and it’s best to be upfront about the products that you are offering.
I’m also asked about what styles of bouquets or colour schemes would go with dresses and the backdrop of events. I love this part of my job most of all, other than actually creating the designs which is my most favourite part.
I recently had a bride come to me that said she wanted roses, but didn’t know what colours would go with the cobalt blue dresses she had for her bridesmaid’s. I suggested that we went for a vibrant pink, shades of lighter pink and crisp white. The end product looked amazing against the dresses and I was so proud of the results. The bride got so many compliments on her choice of colours for her flowers and event decoration. I can’t wait to see the professional photographs from this event.
ARE THERE ANY NEW TRENDS YOU SEE EMERGING IN FLORAL DESIGN AND WEDDINGS?
I love the fact that people are sharing inspiration on things like Pinterest, Instagram and other social media platforms. Back when I first started floristry, people had to purchase expensive bridal magazines to get inspiration.
These days, inspiration is literally an internet search away. Brides are also looking to celebrity weddings for inspiration. The recent royal weddings have proven to be inspiration for a few of my brides that are getting married next year.
The ‘on-trend’ colours at the moment are nudes through to blush pinks and crisp white. I see gemstone tones as the next trend for weddings. The rich and vibrant colours always look amazing in professional photographs. I have a couple of weddings booked for 2019 utilizing that palette and I’m so excited to create their blooms.
Floristry often looks to the fashion industry and even Pantone colours of the season to inspire them with the next trend. I take a lot of inspiration from nature and also colour combinations and textures seen on the sets of movies like Great Gatsby & Moulin Rouge. I also take inspiration on what’s happening in the floral design houses of Europe.
WHAT IS THE LARGEST OR MOST SATISFYING JOB THAT YOU HAVE COMPLETED?
When I had my shop in Leigh street I did the wedding for the captain of one of the AFL football clubs. It was amazing! I had thousands of stems of orchids and white oriental lilies. It was very stressful but the end result was amazing and they were thrilled with it. I’m always satisfied when I see my customers happy with the work I’ve created for them. They could spend $30 or $3000 and as long as they’re happy, I’m happy.
YOU MUST SPEND A BIT OF TIME WITH COUPLES AND ARE PART OF THEIR JOURNEY, CAN YOU SHARE WITH US ANY UNIQUE OR SPECIAL MOMENTS?
I love to include special things in wedding bouquets. I’ve recently had a couple of weddings where the matriarch of the family has passed away. One of the weddings was only a few months after the Grandmother had passed away. I suggested we include a family heirloom or something that was special to the Grandmother so she was still included in the day.
The Bride’s mother entrusted me in a stunning vintage brooch from the 1920’s that was her mothers. I carefully wired it into the bridal bouquet. That touch made it very special for the Bride and her Mum. I must admit I did shed a tear when I was putting it together because I knew how much they loved her and wished she had been there in person for the Bride’s special day.
Another recent wedding, I went to the home of the Groom and cut a few stems from his Nonna’s rose bush and included it in the bridal bouquet. Unfortunately, the roses weren’t in bloom but I was able to use the foliage for his buttonhole and a few stems of foliage for the middle of the bridal bouquet. She was a very special and important member of the family and including something from her garden was a very special touch for the family. She wasn’t there in person but something she cherished was.