We typically feature our Grower of the Month every four weeks, but as we are growing and evolving to include many other suppliers and retailers to our flower family, we will also be featuring our florist members of Flowers Victoria. It’s a wonderful insight into the many careers and elements of the supply chain that make up our busy and beautiful industry.
Spending a day in the busy life of David Trevaskis, owner of Antaeus based at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne is not the luxe life you would think. The florist has a daily commute from his residence in Mount Macedon coupled with multiple weekly 4am starts at the Melbourne Wholesale Flower Market in Epping before he even starts the day.
David was not always a florist. The son of a dairy farmer, his earlier years in Murchison deep within the Goulburn Valley dairy belt were always devoted to the garden. From the age of 8 there was a deep connection to nature and David enjoyed nurturing the asparagus and delphiniums in his neighbours vegetable and flower garden. At the age of 18 he moved to Melbourne to pursue a career in nursing spending a further 7-8 years in a management role in the medical industry which also involved working for a London pathologist in London’s West End.
At a time where floristry was not considered a fashionable career choice, David purchased a florist in Prahran on return from London, where his green thumb took over. He quickly gained a reputation in the affluent area with his naturalistic style and attention to detail. The florist was soon rebranded to Antaeus, named after the Ancient Greek God of strength. The mythological story behind Antaeus is that he would challenge all passers-by to wrestling matches and remained invincible as long as he remained in contact with his mother, the earth. It’s a memorable and strong name also marked by a favoured Chanel cologne of the same name.
David’s determination and refusal to fail is also subscribed to through his brand. Overcoming numerous challenges emotionally, physically and mentally throughout the business has reinforced his drive, passion and desire to succeed. After opening his second shop in Richmond, he was approached by the Como Centre in South Yarra after three refits and multiple offers. He operated from the Como Centre for 13 years before being head hunted by the Grand Hyatt who were undertaking a complete retail clean up of their commercial leaseholds and desired a high profile florist. He was contracted to the Hyatt during the 12 month negotiation process before securing permanent residency and opening his florist in the 5 star hotel in 2002.
Working at the Hyatt has seen his style grow more confident and his signature design work (“the Hyatt way”) has extended to weddings, events and hotel lobby displays within the regal premises. The corporate portfolio has also been amazing given the central CBD proximity to businesses such as BHP and Macquarie Bank. With the high pressure timelines to contend with such as tight bump in and outs in the ballroom and satisfying clients with exceptionally high expectations, David remarks that the maintenance of standards is critical.
“Our current client base is built on relationships and the feedback from them is that we are getting it really right, which is amazing for us” David says. “We can’t afford to slip in any way because our brand is levelled at the top end of the market and it’s not acceptable to deliver anything less than that at any given time. We’re always on show”.
Some of David’s career highlights range from big gala events, weddings and servicing statesman/women and visiting international artists and celebrities often in residence at the Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt Hotels. Organising flowers for Nobel Prize Winner, Activist and Democratic Leader Aung San Suu Kyi, was a “Call to arms” for David and he took great pride in sourcing her favourite orchids arranged with his hands and from his heart.
Perhaps indicative of his horticultural inspired childhood, David has a preference for big and unusual foliage with lots of green, natural and gardenesque theming forming the basis of his preferred styling approach. He also has the luxury of bringing in local delights from his home grown garden in Mount Macedon, where his 1.2 acre property is now fully established and bursting with seasonal varieties.
“When I purchased the property, there was nothing here” David says. “I had my heart on creating a sensory and country style garden and planted hydrangea, flowering sage, vegetables, daphne, hellebores, foxgloves, delphinium, dahlia, hosta’s, maybush and garden roses. I’ve also started growing spring shrubbery such as Vibernum, Mock Orange and Snow balls”.
David’s flair for design and décor is a perfect fit for his business at the Hyatt. Four years ago he had the opportunity, under the Hyatt banner, to consult the Hyatt Regency for two weeks in Vietnam and extend his knowledge and styling to their floral team. Keeping his own team of three (with Robyn and Sophie) lean and mean has meant that his brand remains refined, niche and in house which is just the way he likes it!