IN HER BOX, a series of interviews with women who personify the spirit of SARAH & SEBASTIAN, in celebration of passion, career and style.
Unbound by the constraints of classic floristry, Emily Smith of Sydney-based Boutierre Girls is bringing modernity to a traditional art form. Injecting her edgy style into her work, Emily is making flowers cool again.
We took some rare time out with her to talk jewellery, inspiration, and the perfect early-morning playlist.
When did you first become interested in floristry?
I’ve been obsessed with flowers since a was a toddler, my mum always spent a lot of time in the garden, making it look beautiful. However, I never realised I would be able to make a living from floristry so didn’t consider it an option until I moved to Potts Point when I was 22 where I became friends with a local florist.
You’ve brought a cool edge to a traditionally pretty space. Was this intentional or organic?
I think flowers have come such a long way in just the last 5 years. To be honest, I used to feel embarrassed to say I was a florist because I didn’t feel that the industry was recognised as one that was for artists and creatives. I think social media has done wonders in educating people on all of the possibilities there are with flowers, how much they bring to an event and a space.
Flowers, like anything else can be transformed in a million different styles. I’ve never been a “pretty” girl so I love my designs to have a creative edge of my own. I get such a kick when people see my work and can tell it’s mine just from looking at it. It’s really challenging to set yourself apart and continually change and evolve.
What’s playing in your workshop to wake you up in the morning?
I have a pre-7am playlist for the mornings. It’s a lot of Miguel, Frank Ocean, Majid Jordan and ASAP Rocky.
Your workshop is so fragrant! Is there a scent that you love the most?
I wish I could still notice the smell! I’m so used to it, I don’t realise how amazing the flowers smell until someone else walks in and makes a comment. I really love deep leather and wood with smokey accents. Nothing smells as good as a local garden rose though.
Do you have a favourite piece of jewellery?
I love anything that’s sentimental. My favourite piece is a ring my Mum had made for me with a diamond from my great grandma’s engagement ring. Mum had it remade into 3 rings for me and my sisters when I was 21.
How did you first discover SARAH & SEBASTIAN?
Years ago! I noticed a lot of my girlfriends had started wearing cool, fine jewellery rings and they were always from SARAH & SEBASTIAN. You got me wearing gold jewellery, which is all I wear now.
Do you have a favourite piece from our ROSA collection?
Oh so many! I’m obsessed with my Torn Earrings. And of course I love all of the rose petal pieces. They look so real.
Your wardrobe contains an exciting mix of designer streetwear, do you think your work influences your personal style?
Definitely. We work with a lot of fashion labels and need to make sure our florals align with current trends through colour, shape and design. I’ve always been a huge lover of fashion and do a lot of research on social media and other platforms to make sure I’m up to date.
I love high end street wear because it’s something that I can work in without feeling like a tradie. I live in back jeans and boots and coats/bombers. So having a fresh pair of kicks, a nice bomber and some statement jewellery makes me feel more like me whilst on the job.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job? We know you’re up and on your way to the flower market by 4am; surely this is on of them?
I’m a morning person... but even 3-4am is stretching it. It’s still night time. I think it’s most difficult having to bump out a job after an event at midnight when you’ve had to get up for the flower market early that morning. It can easily become a 22-hour day. I think a lot of people don’t see all of the work florists put in around the clock. We grab sleep where we can and work under a lot of pressure with tight deadlines and perishable product.
Do you find it therapeutic working so closely with nature? What else do you to chill out?
My favourite days are when I’m at the studio creating designs for the following day. When we get to take our time and really enjoy the flowers we are working with it’s the best. I often have a bucket of flowers that are too special to part with. I spend hours taking photos of them from every angle.
I love going for walks and appreciating really beautiful gardens. They are such hard work to maintain and bring so much to the neighbourhood for everyone passing by.
Where do you look to for inspiration?
Definitely leading design houses and designers. Their work is always a good source for colour inspiration and lines, whether it’s bright and bold, or a more minimal understated approach.
Also utilising what’s in season locally is always great. I’m very excited for autumn. All of the autumn colours coming through on the leaves is amazing.
What does your ideal day off look like?
Oooh I can’t imagine having a whole day off. But a sleep in until 9, morning swim and a good book, or bad tv series to binge on. Then getting my nails and hair done with a good facial. I actually really love cleaning my house on a day off too (who am I?) there’s nothing better than coming home to a clean and organised home when you’re exhausted.
You have a tattoo of a rose on your arm and this flower features repeatedly in your work; are we right in thinking it's your favourite flower?
Definitely. I can’t go past a rose. There are so many different varieties, colours and scents. A surprising amount of people will come to me and request no roses. Which is wild because it’s definitely my most used flower. I think a lot of people don’t realise how many different varieties there are. They often get mistaken as peonies or ranunculus.
Describe your personality in 3 words.
Generous, innovative, quick-witted and introverted … sorry that’s 4
My siblings just said precocious, perfectionist and facetious - so kind!
Do you have any mentors in your field or women/men that have inspired you along your professional journey?
I am very lucky in my industry to have other florists take me under their wing, look after me and offer me advice at all hours of the day. I jumped into the deep end pretty quickly and have always been so appreciative of any help or advice given. We are a small industry and all know each other and catch up 3 or more times a week at market. We refer each other jobs, do market runs for each other when someone is sick, borrow vases etc. It’s a really great community to be a part of and I have a really special group of very talented friends.
You’ve mastered floral design. Is there another realm of design where you could see yourself working or collaborating on?
I was sitting down with some of my Boutierre girls the other day thinking of things we could to do expand. I would love to collaborate with a fashion label and create a line whether is floral inspired prints or clothing suitable for work. We need a florist utility jacket! I would love to do a photography series and create some amazing prints. We have lots of ideas that we will continue to work on, watch this space!