The world of floristry has changed a lot over the past 10 years or so, as Melanie Stapleton is all too well aware. While it is now aligned with design and creative industries, that wasn’t always the case. “When I started floristry - 24 years ago - it was very much considered a trade,” she says. “The kind of thing you did if you weren’t smart enough to get into uni! Things are so different now the whole industry is far more design and fashion focused. It’s really very exciting.”
Melanie, who is perhaps better known under her floristry name, Cecilia Fox, was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand and began her career at a young age. “I was 16, desperately lonely, unfathomably shy and directionless,” she says. “Flowers gave me grounding, a focus and working in a retail florist shop forced me out of my shyness.”
Seven years later Melanie moved to London and continued to work within the industry before basing herself in Melbourne. Not long after, in 2008, she started a blog, Cecilia Fox, and received emails from all over the world. “A whole flower community opened up to me,” Melanie says. Now she runs a successful business in Brunswick, creating flower displays for individuals and events such as Dot Dot Dash and Gloss Creative who both create marquees for the Melbourne Cup, above, as well as clients such as the Australian Ballet.
Which five words best describe you? Tireless, bold, grateful, unsociable, generous.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? When I was 16 my family moved to the other side of the city; I had the chance to reinvent myself at a new school in a new suburb, but in the school holidays I found a job at the local florist and loved it so much I've never looked back. When I moved to London and I wanted to freelance, I cold called all of the florists I really wanted to work for - before there was really the Internet and long before people had the Internet on their phones! It was humiliating and exhausting but it payed off and gave me the chance to work for some amazing people and on some incredible events. Starting my own business happened slowly. I worked in florist shops part time, I did a yoga apprenticeship, I enrolled in a RMIT textile diploma, I did everything but start my own business until I finally gave in and believed in myself enough.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Listen to your intuition - with everything - staff, clients, jobs. Don’t doubt your self.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I’m really proud to support so many lives with this little business. I’m incredibly proud of my family; I can’t believe that Jamie and I have managed to have two gorgeous babies and an amazing business and still we are still standing.
What’s been your best decision? Moving from my garage into our current warehouse studio. Our business actually exploded into the enormous space.
Who inspires you? We are so lucky to share our studio space with a dynamic group of contemporary artists who are a constant source of inspiration. It’s a joy to see their individual process, their commitment, their tenacity. The good, the bad and the ugly. And, of course, nature.
What are you passionate about? Creating community and obviously flowers. It’s the flowers that keep me going.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I’ve never really been one for desperately wanting to meet someone - I’m shy; meeting new people makes me nervous!
What dream do you still want to fulfil? Buy a home or a property for my boys to run around and to plant a field of wildflowers. Be better at business stuff.
What are you reading? I’ve normally got a few books on the go. The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More by Annie Raser-Rowland, with Adam Grubb. The Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind By Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson and The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book.
images courtesy of melanie stapleton; photography simon shiff (pony bar interior dot dot dash) and myer marquee gloss creative, portrait cassandra tzortzoglou