Rein­vent­ing the art of floristry

Fashion Quarterly - - Contents -

Ac­ci­den­tal florist Kelly Karam is rein­vent­ing the art of flower ar­rang­ing — and the fu­ture is look­ing rosy in­deed, says Katie May Rus­coe

Un­ex­pected pair­ings. Sea­son­ally and eth­i­cally sourced. Sim­ply pre­pared and pre­sented. They’re terms we’ve be­come fa­mil­iar with when it comes to food, but more re­cently it’s been the flo­ral world’s turn for a makeover (or make-un­der as the case may be), with a new wave of florists es­chew­ing the fussy ar­range­ments and lolly-hued cel­lo­phane of old for a more pared-back and style-for­ward ap­proach.

One of the lead­ing names amongst this co­hort is Kelly Karam of Auck­land’s Blush Florists, whose fresh, modern flo­ral ar­range­ments, sup­ported by a beau­ti­ful, well-con­sid­ered brand iden­tity (a must in the age of Instagram) have made her one of the coun­try’s most in-de­mand florists — and in par­tic­u­lar, a go-to bloom wran­gler for the lo­cal fash­ion in­dus­try.

From pro­vid­ing coun­ter­top bou­quets for lead­ing re­tail­ers, to cre­at­ing elab­o­rate, be­spoke in­stal­la­tions for prod­uct launches and other events, Karam’s pop­u­lar­ity amongst the fash­ion and beauty set did not come about by chance.

As she ex­plains: “My busi­ness man­ager and I sat down re­ally early on and said we wanted the Blush brand to be one of the top in­flu­encers in the flo­ral world.”

Hav­ing stud­ied fash­ion de­sign, Karam “ac­ci­den­tally fell in love” with floristry while work­ing in a family friend’s flower shop, fol­low­ing her uni­ver­sity stud­ies.

Al­though she’s been cre­at­ing work un­der the Blush name for more than a decade, busi­ness re­ally took off in 2016 with the open­ing of the Blush Florist Boutique, in the ever-chic sub­urb of Par­nell.

“I never imag­ined nor wanted a re­tail store,” says Karam, “but I saw this amaz­ing space for lease one day while grab­bing a cof­fee at [Par­nell cafe] Rosie. Four weeks later, my hus­band — a crazy, risk-tak­ing en­tre­pre­neur — signed the lease and said: ‘Right, what shall we do with it?’ ”

Not so much a florist’s shopfront as a one-stop des­ti­na­tion for all things beau­ti­ful and gift-wor­thy, the Blush Boutique is a calm­ing, el­e­gant space be­fit­ting the lovely things within — think crisp white walls, brass cab­i­netry, and Dou­glas and Bec fur­ni­ture in shades of, you guessed it, blush.

“I’ve al­ways been ob­sessed with de­sign,” ex­plains Karam of the fit-out, which she de­signed her­self, “so be­ing able to turn a blank can­vas into my dream space was the ul­ti­mate for me.”

“I love trop­i­cal fra­granced flow­ers and tuberose is an ab­so­lute favourite of mine – so that was a given”

Be­ing a stick­ler for a clear, co­he­sive aes­thetic, Karam took the boutique’s open­ing as an op­por­tu­nity to per­fect the Blush brand in gen­eral. En­list­ing the help of Auck­land de­signer Han­nah Souter (whose clients in­clude fash­ion la­bel Marle, and hot-spot eater­ies Odettes and Hugo’s Bistro), Karam rein­vented Blush with a fresh, fem­i­nine brand iden­tity and clever, sim­ple pack­ag­ing .

This attention to de­tail, to­gether with Karam’s fun, unique ap­proach to ar­range­ments (“we love mix­ing tex­tures and un­ex­pected flo­ral va­ri­eties”), im­pressed lux­ury can­dle mak­ers Ecoya, who ap­proached her in 2017 to cre­ate her own fra­grance for their lim­ited edi­tion Per­fect Bou­quet col­lec­tion.

As one of just three Aus­tralasian florists (and the only one from New Zealand) to be cho­sen, Karam de­scribes the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ecoya as “an hon­our”.

“I loved the process,” she ex­plains. “I spent a lot of time work­ing out the notes I wanted to in­cor­po­rate and then be­tween Ecoya and I we re­fined it un­til it was per­fect.”

The re­sult­ing Ecoya x Blush can­dle is, ac­cord­ing to Karam, “a heav­enly, ro­man­tic white flo­ri­en­tal”.

“I love trop­i­cal fra­granced flow­ers and tuberose is an ab­so­lute favourite of mine — so that was a given. We then added the base note of fig and top notes of green leaves to round out the sweet and sul­try tones.”

Al­though they are an en­dur­ing sta­ple in per­fume, the ap­pear­ance of strong flower scents in home fra­grances of­ten gets a bit of a bad rap. For many peo­ple it car­ries with it less than pleas­ant as­so­ci­a­tions with cloy­ing, fake flo­ral air fresh­en­ers or Nana’s dusty pot­pourri.

But the use of care­fully se­lected high qual­ity oils, and an ex­pert bal­anc­ing of rich flo­rals with fresh-cut green notes and warm­ing New Zealand cedar­wood puts this rounded, lux­u­ri­ous scent (which is avail­able in both can­dle and dif­fuser form) firmly in the realm of Fra­cas, not Fe­breze.

Launched in Fe­bru­ary with a glam­orous, flower-filled event in Syd­ney, the Ecoya x Blush range is al­ready fly­ing off the pale pink shelves of the Blush Boutique, and its re­lease puts the ef­fer­ves­cent Kelly Karam one step closer to achiev­ing that early, busi­ness-launch­ing goal of flower world dom­i­na­tion.

Kelly’s suc­cess in a highly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket is the re­sult of metic­u­lous plan­ning.

Can­dles and blos­soms are

best buds when paired in the luxe Ecoya x Blush range.

Ul­ti­mately, Kelly

Karam would like to have the flo­ral world at

her feet.

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