First, we need to begin with a warning- if you are in a hurry, do not click on the links listed through the post below… you may loose several minutes, which seem to turn into hours in a blink of an eye, meaning mundane events, such as cleaning, cooking and vaguely acting like a responsible mother doesn’t happen, and chaos can occur!
In my next life, Id like to be a stone mason who does floristry – or a florist, who does stone masonary…either way, my hands would be pretty trashed ! A strange combination, one so permanent, hard and definite, and one so soft, delicate and fleeting. But both immensely creative and detailed, both looking for that perfect piece to finish off the jigsaw…Both Jen and I love arranging flowers for the shop- Jens’ flowers are always amazing and sourced from her garden. This is the type of creativity that appeals to us, the much more naturalistic floristry that is gaining in popularity, championed by Henry Hudson Blog, Miss Pickering and others. So imagine our delight to find another like minded soul hiding right under our noses…
Coldstream is one of those places all to common in Australia, where the main highway allows people to fly through, windows up in their own world, on their way to who knows where. Sometimes its these places, that turn up nuggets of gold, and Sugar Bee Flowers is one such find. Located in the Gateway Shopping Precinct of Coldstream, Sugar Bee is in good company next to Cunliffe and Waters, the Yarra Valley Tea Company, etc. ( and the fish and chips aren’t bad either!) I was completely blown away when I drove in one day and saw her sweet shopfront ( appointment only) and her simple, yet rustic display- ladders, watering cans and Billy Buttons get me every time! All things we love, here at morris brown. So, I decided to find out more about who was behind the window…and lo and behold, I found Youki. Below is a little of her story; we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed asking stickybeak questions!
One of the more obvious questions is how does a Japanese Girl find herself immersed in life in the Yarra Valley?
Ha ha, that’s a funny question. Well, I came to Australia when I was 11, grew up in Sydney, then moved around the East Coast then settled down in the Yarra Valley 2 years ago. It is THE very best place I have ever lived – beautiful scenery everywhere you go, beautiful people, beautiful food… I really can’t compliment enough about the Yarra Valley. I just love it.
Traditionally, the Japanese style of floristry flower arranging, is far more structured and formal, yet one of the reasons we admire your work so much is thatit is so free; are you self taught or did you work with someone to learn the skills you have today
Aww thank you! It really means a lot when people recognise me for free, loose floral designs. I studied floristry back in Sydney where I learned all the basics, did work experience in several florists, then the rest is I guess self taught! I love it when the flowers look like a piece of nature.
Your arrangements see to focus on the seasonality of the flowers, using what is available at that time. In today’s world, consumers are accustomed to having what they want, when they want it. Do you find it difficult to convince clients that this is a great way to go, or do most people accept this?
I am very lucky because most of my clients understand that flowers ARE seasonal and what’s not there, is not there. Also, there are cases that flowers we were planning to use are not available due to weather, etc. While brides get disappointed, they understand and are happy to go with the alternative. I think Melbournians have a really good understanding of nature, which I really appreciate (trust me, I lived in NSW and QLD and VIC is the best flower state).
I know it’s like asking a mother what is her favourite child, but if you only had one flower to work with, what would you choose and why?
That is a tough question but I’d probably go with David Austin roses. They are pretty, they are fragrant, and their stems are often not straight which always makes it interesting to work with. They look nice on their own, and with others. It’s just the fine sharp thorns that’s the problem! I’ve had one stuck in my finger for 2 weeks now.
You work and have a family: how do you juggle all that needs to happen in the day.
It is a constant juggle, and it’s a common struggle for many, many mothers out there. I’m lucky because I leave for the market at 3AM while hubby and kids are sleeping, and I work mostly on the weekends while hubby is at home with the kids. I do miss out on the family weekend fun but that’s fine – I’ve got the winter wedding off-season to enjoy that.
Favourite Yarra Valley destinations and why?
That’s so hard!! There are so many beautiful places I would visit on my day off. I love visiting the cafes and beautiful wineries and I love enjoying a little walk at the dam and the Badger Weir… There is so many things to see and do!!
Where do you go for inspiration- what magazines, blogs or other sources of inspiration do you turn too?
There are many different blogs that I follow including wedding blogs like http://www.polkadotbride.com, ruffledblog.com, hellomay.com.au; and my favourite florists’ blogs including my absolute favourite saipua.com, and few others like floragrubb.com/cutting, www.floretflowers.com/blog, tenthmeadow.blogspot.com.au, http://ariellaflowers.cometc. We also can’t go past Pinterest for some beautiful pictures! I can’t look at beautiful flowers for too long though, because my heart will literally start hurting and I run out of breath (it sounds so stupid but it’s true) so I keep it to checking 2 or 3 per day. ( Have to agree, I lost hours looking at them, when I was meant to be doing the links, oops!)
Recently, in the January edition of Belle magazine there was a feature highlighting several Australian florists: if you could work with any floral designer / florist who would you choose?
It was a great article. There are many admirable floral designers/florists in Australia with great skills and talent and I would love to work with any of them! I’m going to have to give you a really boring answer and I’d say there is always things to learn from others, and there is no particular one that I’d like to work with; I’d love to work with any of them!!
When you look at a posy, like the one featured above, it looks so simple, yet perfect. There in lies the talent. Because it is never so simple, and while floristry has such a creative pull, the reality is it is loads of hard work, some not so glamorous…No doubt, sometime in the near future, if you attend a wedding at one of the fabulous venues scattered across the Yarra Valley, you may just be admiring the handiwork of Sugar Bee Flowers, one of the amazingly talented people that call the Valley home. Thanks so much Youki for sharing your stories and your photographs of your beautiful work with us. Youki has a lovely blog where she documents many of her weddings, and you can find it here, if you’d like to see a little more flower power!
Please note, all photographs displayed are property of Sugar Bee Flowers