Our Home Life Series is a weekly sneak peak into the homes and lives of Australia's most creative and inspiring people.
This week on the Home Life Series we are chatting to Alice Shepherd, founder of florist studio She’s A Wildflower. Since leaving her corporate job in 2014, Alice’s passion for creativity drove her to starting one of Melbourne’s most luxury wedding and event floristries, all in her own backyard. We take you inside her coastal Barwon Heads home and studio, and get to know what she gets up to when not behind the work bench. As a mum to her two gorgeous kids Peggy and Bobby, we also get the low down on what florals are trending this year as we gear up for Mother’s Day.
1. Let’s start with a little bit about you - how did you end up as a florist is this beautiful corner of the world?
I left my corporate job in the events industry in Melbourne in 2012 to begin my floristry course at The Gordon TAFE in Geelong, I had this creative itch that I needed to scratch so I launched myself into it, it was so daunting!! I wasn’t sure if I would be any good at it as I never had any prior experience but loved flowers and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if…” so I jumped in head first! Tom, my husband, grew up in Geelong and had moved back down so that was the safety net I needed to take the risk, we decided to move to Barwon Heads because we love the coastal lifestyle and the village like vibe that Barwon Heads offers, I grew up on a farm so love that small town feel.
2. Tell us about She’s A Wildflower - when and why did it start, what makes SAW unique?
I started She’s a Wildflower in 2014, I was working in a retail florist shop but wanted to build a business that would eventually suit a family lifestyle where I could work from home. She’s a Wildflower would be described as a studio based florist, I work predominantly on weddings and events, so a lot of work is completed in the studio and then finished onsite at the venue. I worked really hard in building the business before falling pregnant with our first child Peggy, so having a name for myself when I returned to work after having her really helped, I was able to pick and choose the work I could do around having a little family.
I think what has made She’s a Wildflower unique is having versatility, being in a studio rather than a retail space has opened me up to doing all sorts of floristry, obviously weddings and events, but also photo shoots with lifestyle brands, interior stylists and magazines, content creation for other businesses, teaching workshops - I’m not tied to a shop so it means I can be more flexible with my time and it keeps things very interesting! I also try to work with locally grown, seasonal and unique flowers - these are three attributes that I desire when creating concepts and selecting flowers. I devote the time to source varieties direct from local farmers, the flower market, or foraging from their natural surrounds, so each floral design is thoughtfully created for my clients.
3. What have been some the biggest challenges and biggest highlights in running your own business?
One of the biggest challenges is working on weddings and dealing with peoples expectations, there are so many emotions and so much emphasis put on the flowers with bringing a wedding to life, I still get nervous when delivering a wedding! But then the highlight to that is hearing the feedback, it’s so lovely hearing back from clients after their special day!
I think another challenge would obviously be Covid! The last 2 years have been so difficult to navigate through in the wedding and events industry, we’re on - we’re off, in and out of lockdowns! I made the call to step away from weddings during that time until I felt we were in the clear so have only really started picking up some weddings again. The highlight to that though was having the time to renovate a house in Barwon Heads that we now have on Airbnb, so I also managing that which has been a lot of work but also fun!
Another challenge would definitely be having a family and working in the wedding industry - it’s so intense with long hours and managing staff - mostly freelancers, a lot of the work is on the weekend which takes time away from Tom and the kids. Family is very important to me and whilst I have enjoyed the fast pace and growing success of my small business, I’m on the pursuit of designing a slow lifestyle for myself and my family, taking time to appreciate each other, our friends and our seaside village that we are lucky enough to call home.
4. We’re all gearing up for mothers day - what are the trends you’re seeing in florals right now and what bunch are you hoping Peggy and Bobby get you?
Chrysanthemums or “mums" have long been the favourite mothers day flower, but with the many things going on in the world right now (war in Ukraine, covid, floods etc.) we are experiencing shortages in a lot of flowers! Prices have increased dramatically because of fuel costs and shortages from floods in NSW and QLD so what would normally be readily available is harder to get so it will be interesting to see what we have coming through the market around Mothers Day this year, I imagine it will challenge a lot of florists but I think we will be relying on local growers and taking whatever seasonal flowers and foliage that are available (that may all be a little deep, so happy to leave that out if you’re wanting to keep it light…) Roses are always popular too, and sometimes dahlias are still hanging around, its usually the end of the season but depending on weather they may still be available. It’s mostly super pretty arrangements, beautiful delicate flowers, pinks and pastels are always popular, in saying that we’re finding natives have made a comeback, their longevity is the drawcard!
From Peggy and Bobby I would love a big bunch of autumn foliage, or something textural, maybe even hydrangea! I know as a florist I’m expected to say the prettiest flowers but when I have flowers in the home I like to keep it simple, usually one variety en masse and let that variety speak for itself!
5. You live on the beautiful Bellarine - tell us about the community, and your favourite things to do around here.
You’re right, the Bellarine is beautiful!! I love the sense of community, knowing at least 5 people when you walk down the street, having chats with the retailers, everyone is so friendly and supportive! We spend a lot of time at the river or the beach, even in winter! Tom and I enjoy going for a surf when we get the chance, and visiting the local cafes for coffee, or restaurants for dinner and drinks, we’re pretty low key!
6. What can you tell us about your gorgeous home?
The original part of our home was built in the 70’s I believe, we decided to renovate in 2017 when Peggy was just 5 months old (that was a challenge), it needed a lot of work to become a family friendly home! We decided to keep some of the original external bricks, the footprint has changed a bit though - we pretty much gutted half of the house, bumped the roofline up and then extended out the back to give us a larger kitchen, living and dining space. Prior to the house renovation we built the studio that I work out of, it felt nicer than the house we lived in so knew we needed to get stuck into the house. Style wise I would definitely say its family friendly and low maintenance haha - with 2 young kids you can’t be too precious about things that can easily be broken or destroyed! But the overall aesthetic could be described as coastal with natural/earthy tones and textures. I live here with my husband Tom, our two kids Peggy and Bobby, and our boxer dogs Bonnie and Bert.
7. What’s your favourite thing in the latest Kip&Co range?
I’m loving the bright fun colours of the kid's clothes, they help bring a little colour into winter - the women's range is also super fun. And the beautiful textural cushions are so comfy to curl up into!
Read other stories in the Kip&Co Home Life Series.