When I left school my dreams definitely were not what they are now. I didn’t really have any career goals, all I wanted to do was travel. I worked for a year when I left school to save money to travel and when I was 18 I moved to London and travelled around Europe for two years – lived life, partied and did all those things that a young traveller is supposed to do. I have always been up for a challenge so when I did come back to Perth I decided to go to Uni. Nursing had a great foundation and I wanted to give that a go so I did my mature age entry. I applied all over Australia for entry to Uni and did get in to each state but chose Melbourne, and so I lived in Melbourne for three years while I studied. I loved nursing and I still really appreciate nurses so much and the work they do, but my priorities changed when I had kids.
I had known my husband Tom for years from before I went to London, and one year when I came home from Melbourne for Christmas we realised we belonged together, so I moved back to Perth and did some nursing for a while, and then we had Poppy who is now five years old and Charlie Willow is 18 months old. Floristry had become a side hobby of mine which fulfilled my creative side. I had done an evening TAFE course to learn the basics, and everything just grew from there. My business started off with me working from home as a side project doing weddings for friends and family, for around seven years or so. Then about two years ago we rebranded to become Poppy and Willow. I say ‘we’ because Tom and I are in the business together. He works full time elsewhere, but he is so important to me in the running of the business and he supports me with the kids and I wouldn’t be able to do it without him. He’s been fantastic.
Poppy was about three and I was pregnant with Charlie Willow, and we started getting a really great response to what we were offering. I was working right up until Charlie Willow was born – she was five weeks early and I did a wedding the day before she was born, rushing off to the hospital when the wedding was finished! I was brought up around a family business even though I never worked in it as such – but I love the idea of creating a family business and love the idea of the girls working in the business one day if they want to. Poppy and Willow is our future- we’ve made the decision that this is us now. People really love what we do so we want to embrace that. We started off predominantly as wedding flowers and now we have branched out doing event styling design, creating custom-built backdrops and a lot of furniture hire. We are in the process of launching an online gift boutique, doing deliveries of flowers and gifts but funking it up a bit to make it more interesting. We try and do custom design wherever we can with our wedding clients – we do put a lot of our work on Instagram and Facebook, and when we get enquiries we send out our prices straight up so people are aware of the costing structure, and we send information about us and the way we do things. We are pretty particular with the look we want to achieve for our events which does require a minimum spend so we are always upfront with our brides and grooms and corporate clients.
I love designing, I love meeting our brides and grooms and our corporate clients where possible so I can get to understand them as people and understand what they love. We really don’t like to copy other weddings, we want to incorporate the things that they love – be it architecture or textiles or texture – and build that into the event. Quite often people will bring in pictures of what they want and we’ll say ‘well that’s been done, why don’t we try something new and unique?’. Colours, themes and budgets do play a big part in weddings so I need to be realistic about those things.
It was really hard starting up a business and raising two little girls. We weren’t as busy as we are now when the girls were really little, maybe doing a few weddings a month, but now we’re doing seven or eight weddings a month. We have a live in au pair who helps us, and also my parents and Tom’s mum are fantastic – we rely on our family so much. The major challenge is ‘mother guilt’. I want to spend time with my girls but then I want to grow our business for them, and provide for them and send them to a good school and give them a really nourishing upbringing. Being torn between those two is hard. I would love to have free weekends to take the girls out but the weekends are our week. We’ve stopped doing Sunday weddings so that is now our family day. We may have to pack down a wedding on a Sunday morning but we build that into a family day out. We’ve created our own world, our own lifestyle. Getting the balance right is a hard one.
Social media has been of so much benefit to my business and it has enabled my business to grow. Social media has been a God send for us. Our business is so visual so Instagram is fantastic and Facebook is good but not all of our followers see our posts unless we pay for it. One of the keys to having a successful business is getting a good plan in place. What you want to achieve, what hours you want to work. I’ve only just starting giving myself time off because I was burning myself out. It’s really important to look after yourself, because your children need you. Poppy and Willow Bloom Stylist is based in Perth. They are passionate about creating unique and intimate events that leave a lasting impression.
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Copy: Melanie Quirk Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios
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