It was Alice Shepherd’s 25th Birthday when her light bulb moment arrived during a picnic in the park. One of her friends gifted her a magnificent fresh flower posy hand picked from her mother’s garden which marked a turning point after several years in Event and Talent Management. Alice completed a course in Tourism at TAFE before embarking on a Bachelor of Business at Latrobe University . Finding it difficult to secure Tourism work (associated with Global Financial Crisis), she soon developed key communication skills in the world of events and went on to secure her Cert III of Floristry at Gordon TAFE in Geelong whilst also working in Talent Management. One of her teachers at Gordon happened to be Yvette Timmins, who is now the owner/operator of Bloom College (also based in Geelong). Alice now teaches the ‘Flowers Basics’ and the career change course at Bloom three nights a week so the pair’s introduction was definitely a fated one!
As a Barwon Heads resident (Alice and her partner bought a property at this idyllic coastal retreat two years ago), she was tipped off by a friend in June 2014 that funky Geelong café “King of the Castle” was looking for a craft oriented pop up to occupy an extensive space for two weeks at the rear of the café. The timing was right for Alice and the opportunity seemed too good to be true so she had four days to organise herself and create a physical presence for her style. Two weeks turned into 6 months. “It was definitely the best thing I ever did as it forced me to be savvy about marketing myself as not just a wedding florist, and using social media to convey my style and personalising the product”, Alice says excitedly. “Instagram has been a major platform for my marketing which at first was all about me talking aloud in the comments section alongside whichever photo has been captured, which people seem to really like!”. Her unique floral style paired with her collective daily musings and profile of the cafe created much buzz for Alice. This time last year, Alice had 827 followers, she has now hit 10K! The swell in popularity also led to some major collaborations with Pana Chocolate, Party with Lenzo, Inside Out Magazine and Poppies for Grace.
Business kept growing and so did further opportunity for “She’s a Wildflower”, named after a poignant scene in Alice in Wonderland. The hardest part for Alice was wrapping up her ‘pop up’ at King of the Castle Café (on Christmas Eve) to relocate to her home based studio, enabling greater flexibility and space for event based work and weddings.
“One of the biggest challenges is working by myself and not having someone else to bounce ideas off as I’m more of a team player but too much of a control freak at the same time!” Alice says. “I can’t see myself going back to a retail frontage though as I am keen to not limit myself and I can say yes to far more opportunities by being a sole trader. “
Next steps for the business include building and extending her studio, a brand new website, a subscription service delivering a ‘Friday jar’ to recipients and cafes and more collaborations in the wings.
Alice’s favourite flower varieties include: Dahlia’s, blossoms in Spring for height, peonies, open garden roses, double ranunculi, anemones, berries and anything scented. Dark, rich, deep colours and working tonally is her preferred style. “I also love all whites, flowers en masse and foraging for unusual foliage, fruits and anything different. “
Visiting the Melbourne Flower Market once a week is crucial to her business and identifying what is new, fresh and complimentary to the colour ways used in her bridal theming. “Everything depends on theme and mood and quality which is why I go direct to good suppliers and visit the market to get inspired”, Alice said.
Who Alice follows on Instagram: Holly Hipwell, The Grounds of Alexandria, Fleur McHarg, Cecilia Fox, Katie Marx, North St Botanical, Pomp & Splendour, Prunella.
Tips on becoming a florist: Work experience, short courses, upskilling, practice and build up your portfolio.
Check out She’s a Wildflower’s new website! www.shesawildflower.com.au