If you think the life of a florist is quaint and quiet, you’d be very much mistaken. At least this is the case when it comes to Holly Hipwell, Chief Flower Enthusiast and founder of The Flower Drum.
From weddings to collaborations with notable brands and fashion labels, Holly has embellished shopfronts and events all over the country with her unique flair and contagious energy. We were lucky enough to pin her down to do an installation in our Pitt Street and George Street windows for Vogue Fashion Night Out, in line with this year’s floral theme. The result was an organic masterpiece of earthy muted tones with a special focus on cotton, the main material used to make our acetate frames.
Find out how she has branched out since the early days, how The Flower Drum rose to power, and why she’s not your garden variety florist…
On your website, you describe your role as, “Chief flower enthusiast, master of events, stylist, curator and maker of all things you will love”. So tell us a bit about how you got into the world of floristry!
It just happened! The Flower Drum started off as a blog which recorded my floral adventures, and within a few months it gained a following all around the world – people loved my take on the not-so-serious side of flowers. The blog took readers on a journey to the flower markets without the 4am wake up call! People always love a behind the scenes look into different industries, so I suppose that’s part of the reason it was so happily received online.
Not long after starting the blog I began to book in jobs with some of my favourite Australian brands and publishing titles – it was a pretty awesome entry into the world of floristry and I had no idea what I was doing – I just said “YES!” and worked it all out on the go. Now, a few years on, I am so grateful to be The Chief Flower Enthusiast of The Flower Drum… never in my wildest dreams did I think that a little blog would turn my life into a whirlwind of such beauty and fun! But, it just happened – and I love every day that I get to create installations, arrangements and visit my pals out at the flower markets.
You make it look so easy (which I’m 100% certain it’s not!) Have you got any style tips? Any favourite colour combinations? Tricks of the trade?
Although I have my own style – I find that it can stretch across many genres. One day it will be a super feminine girly installation and the next its sticks and branches! Being able to make your style recognisable as your own, yet including different ingredients is definitely a challenge – each season we are met with new flowers so our style constantly evolves. You can’t just say “I only work with Peonies”, because then you’re only going to work a couple of months in the year! (Wouldn’t that be nice?!)
My favourite colour palette of the moment is dusty pastels accented by rich jewel tone hues… YUM! As for tricks of the trade – cable ties. Thousands of them. My style is really abundant and lush – whenever I try to do something “simple” I think it looks boring… I like there to be LOTS of everything!
You’ve done so many collaborations, special events and projects. Do you have a favourite one to date?
My first big gig was creating window displays for Alannah Hill stores all around Australia – that will always be a favourite. I love to travel and have been lucky enough to take my flowers on the road (literally), to weddings up in Byron, classes in Melbourne and a special event in Tassie late last year. Logistically, it’s a nightmare, but such a fun adventure. I also did a wedding in the USA, so visiting the flower markets in downtown LA was a real treat!
What’s the most unusual or interesting request you’ve ever had?
Underwater flowers, dead flowers, exploding flowers…. nothing really phases me anymore!
What’s your advice for those wanting to give floristry a try?
Visit the flower markets on a Saturday morning and make yourself besties with the growers/suppliers. They are so much fun to talk to and are always happy to offer their years of experience to anyone who will listen! That’s really how I started – by asking lots of questions!
What are you listening to/watching/reading at the moment that’s inspiring you?
I love to zone out with a good series – I will stay up all night watching Suits and know that I have to get up in a few hours to go to the markets… but Harvey Specter is just too irresistible. So I would call that a distraction, not an inspiration. Music always gets me super hyped up, so I love to have a good playlist rolling when I’m working in the studio. Maybe one day I should open a florist/karaoke bar.
What’s your favourite thing to do when you have a day off?
I’m so lucky to live in a beautiful spot on the northern beaches called Clareville. From my lounge room, I can look out the sailing boats gliding over Pittwater – it’s so dreamy. I try not to leave the village on a day off. In summer, I love to go down to Clareville beach for a swim… pack a picnic with yummy snacks and then come home for little afternoon siesta in the su. That’s my idea of a perfect day off!
Other than creating our installation for Vogue Fashion Night Out, what exciting things do you have coming up?
The spring/summer schedule is already jam packed full of fun – I’m really looking forward the change of season. Summer florals are my fave, so I am super excited about the creations/installations to come.
And lastly, I have to ask; what’s your favourite flower?
Oh… just one? Peonies, Dahlias, Fragrant Roses, Boronia, Gardenias, Jasmine, Tulips… everything – except Gerberas!
Photography: Ben Murphy