Flowers en vogue – Behind the scenes with Boutierre Girls

by Laura Syvaniemi

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The Boutierre Girls studio in Epping. Image: Laura Syvaniemi

 

A fresh-faced Emily Michele Smith meets me at the gate to her studio. I’ve walked the twenty minutes from Epping station despite Emily’s offer to pick me up, admiring the stillness of the residential area just forty minutes away from bustling Sydney centre. On my way I see roses everywhere; perhaps it is my interviewee who has inspired me to notice them. 26-year-old Emily runs Boutierre Girls, an Instagram sensation and one of Sydney’s most prestigious floral businesses.

It’s 10 am and Emily has already had four shots of coffee. She has apologetically rescheduled three times; her black van full of flowers is relentlessly on the move, catering to last minute orders. This week alone, she has also received three other requests for interviews.

The Boutierre Girls studio is a crisp white space that sets the scene for many of Emily’s Instagram photos. It’s the social media platform that sparked her rise to floral fame and features frequently in her speech when talking about Boutierre Girls. Emily has nearly 35 000 followers, a figure that is steadily rising.

 

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Emily in her studio. Image: Laura Syvaniemi

 

The walls of the studio are covered with urns and vases, some filled with blooms left over from the morning’s deliveries. Emily is apologetic there aren’t more and automatically rearranges them, unasked, for a better photograph. We sit down at a grey concrete table where she fiddles with a massive nude Mayfair rose, gently peeling back its petals as she talks.

”I got up at 3.45,” She says as I ask her about her morning. ”I’ve been to the markets, bought all my flowers, come back and stripped everything down, made all my deliveries and delivered them. I’ve delivered flowers for a photo shoot as well. That’s about it.”

The early alarm is no stranger to Emily: she always gets up that time on Mondays and Wednesdays, when fresh flowers come into the flower markets. On Fridays it’s ”around 2.30”. Emily works seven days a week – the amount of coffee quickly makes sense.

 

The birth of Boutierre

 

Before Boutierre Girls Emily studied medical science at UNSW, spending her spare time making cakes and playing with flowers.

”I have chronic fatigue and was sort of bed-ridden for three or four years,” Emily explains. ”I would have weird hobbies and flowers was one of them. I started as cakes, and then I was like; I actually hate cakes.” She laughs. ”And the reason my cakes were so popular was I’d deck them out with fresh flowers. So I just got rid of cakes and did flowers instead.”

A florist, just like her first cake client, found Emily on Instagram and offered her a job. After two months, in 2014, she quit and started her own business. ”It’s been going nuts ever since!”

 

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“Pictures on Instagram that get a lot of likes tend to be just one flower,” Emily says of her most reposted images. Images courtesy of Boutierre Girls.

 

Due to her explosive rise in popularity, Emily had to leave UNSW and a brief period at TAFE. She now creates florals for weddings, as well as fashion labels and photoshoots, which she loves. Recently she had her first magazine cover.

”I’d love to move overseas and do stuff with big labels,” Emily says. ”If I ever did a job for like Balmain, I’d probably die. I still scream like a little kid when I get a job offer from a label that I’m obsessed with.”

 

Hard labour

 

The hours behind Boutierre Girls’ famed florals are hard work. When asked if people understand the amount of labour that goes into flowers, Emily laughs out loud. ”No! No way. Yeah, no chance.”

What might seem like a simple bouquet order means Emily has gotten up and gone to the markets, paid ten dollars for parking, bought the flowers, driven back to her studio, stripped the flowers, arranged the bouquet and then delivered it. ”That’s half a day’s work,” she explains.

And compared to big events, half a day for a bouquet sounds like child’s play. ”If you’ve got a huge job on Sunday, you pretty much don’t sleep from when you pick up the flowers on Friday through till Sunday. You just don’t have enough hours in the day.”

 

Go big or go home

 

Two phones on the tabletop beep with the occasional incoming message, which Emily checks in stride. She talks about the physical demands of the job: the rigging, knotting, public liability and fork lifts – ”They’re really hard to drive!” – that come with the floral installations she creates.

Bigger, faster, harder, better. I ask Emily if she ever feels out of her depth.

She laughs. ”I’ll book a job and be like ’I have no idea how to do that, but sure!’. By the time it comes around it’s so easy. I find that with pretty much all of the florists: most of us have no idea what we’re doing when it comes to designing big crazy things on roofs and stuff. You just do whatever works and make sure it doesn’t fall.”

 

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Emily loves working with anthereums and roses (left). A recent wedding at Sydney venue Mr. Wong (middle) has been one of her favourites so far. Images courtesy of Boutierre Girls.

 

As the artist behind installations such as Samantha Wills’ stunning floral walls, the first of which Emily still recalls as ”her baby”, it’s safe to say clients are in good hands. She loves using roses, anthereums and orchids – all of which feature abundantly in her work and Instagram account – but has a hard time picking her favourite jobs.

”Every second wedding I’ll be like ”this is my favourite wedding ever!” because I love whatever I’m doing at that time,” She says. ”Whatever flower I’m working with is my favourite flower.”

 

Flower friends

 

Weddings, from which Boutierre Girls currently gets most of their work, are notoriously tricky to execute.

”My worst nightmare would be for a bride to be disappointed on her wedding day,” She says of the high pressure jobs.

”No matter how organised I am, in every wedding something goes wrong. Things just happen on the day that you don’t expect. But the bride will never know and you just learn to recover in, like, five seconds. I’m really good under pressure and every single time it works out. Every single time we manage to get it done.”

From traffic jams to sudden heat waves to brides having given her the wrong date for their wedding, the Boutierre peeps have been there. When going gets rough Emily enlists the help of fellow florists, many of whom she is close with.

”We’re all pretty good friends. Even overseas, we’re all pretty tight through Instagram. I can stay anywhere and know that I’ll be able to find a flower friend and be like; I’m coming over!”

It’s the love of flowers that unites them and makes the long, sleep-deprived hours worthwhile.

”I just love flowers. I always have,” Emily states simply. ”I love it. There’s always work stuff about it, but I’m lucky that I can earn a full-time salary doing this. I see people in offices and I could never do that. I just don’t know how they do it. I literally don’t know.”

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Richard’s Music Journey: Busking in Sydney is Enjoyable but Tough

 

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Richard performed on Pitt St Mall. Photoed by Qian Lu

It was 6:00pm on a Saturday, Richard was busking on Pitt St Mall surrounded with crowded audiences.

Richard Soward, also named Cuzn, is a singer and songwriter from South England, based in Sydney.

Busking life

“I have been busking for about seven years, I started busking in London, on the London Underground Network.”

Richard said “I choose to busk because it’s a really good way to gain new fans, to perfect your performance, and a really good way to not have to get a real job and earn money.”

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Richard performed in on the London Underground. Photo from Cuzn

Richard have busked in many countries and cities including London and Wales in England, Toronto and Montreal in Canada, New York City in America, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Newcastle in Australia. Before coming to Sydney, Richard regarded busking as an interests, “I can go to a city and visit there while making new fans and making shows on the street, it’s awesome” he said.

Richard came to Sydney a year and a half ago, “Because I want to change, I was in London for many years, that was fun, but it was tiring and I began to get bad habit, I need change, so I came here, under the sunshine”he said. He treated busking as a career after he came to Sydney, “I really like busking in Sydney, for me it’s not really about the place, it’s about the area, there are lots of shopping centres that I can make shows, I can make moments with people, that’s what I like to do.” said Richard.

Sometimes Richard plays in a band with two close mate, Jamie Ray, playing the bass, and Lawrence Gratton, playing the violin. “They are awesome, but Lawrence went to Melbourne.” he said.

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Richard performed with Jamie and Lawrence. Photo from Cuzn.

 

Richard’s Fans

“Most of my fans are made from busking, and I got too much happiness from them.”

Richard usually plays on Pitt St Mall on weekends, everytime he plays, he will be surrounded with lots of people, some are big fans, some are just passers-by in the shopping mall, and they would become new fans.

“Sometimes there are kids running in my shows, and I remember a cute girl,” he said, “apparently, she was really a shy kid, and her mother bought a CD. The kid can never reads, but she can learn all the lyrics of my songs and surprises her mother by singing in the car with all the lyrics of my songs, which is really touching, really touching”.

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The cute girl. Photo from Cuzn.

“Recently I got a email from somebody who said during my show, she felt like nothing else in the world existed, and that’s awesome, that’s what I wanna do, that is what my life is filled, and I can do that to people.” Richard said with confidence and passion.

Richard’s EP

“London Prize recorded my feeling about London at that time, good and bad.”

Richard have released two EPs. The first one named London Prize, released in 2014 in London. There are two songs in it including London Prize and Transatlantic Tales.

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London Prize EP. Photo from Cunz.

The second EP is Little Victories, released in 2015 in Sydney. Six songs are recorded in it including Ordinary People, Monster Truck, We Believe, We Dream, Fire, Four Walls and Sympathy. It was inspired by years of crazy nights, cavorting and crashing on couches, he has learned a thing about life. From dingy London dungeons to high-class American apartments, via sumptuous Sydney sunshine, his handsomely-expressed acoustic sermons on love and life have acquired devastating resonance. “Because I think it is very important to celebrate the little victories. If you think about the end of prize, selling millions of records, you would get very upset. But when you sell hundreds of records, or sing a song you never heard before, and celebrate these little victories, it would be encouraging” Richard said.

To shoot the Music Video for Ordinary people, Richard ran around Sydeny CBD, with a film crew, getting people from all walks of life to hold up signs containing the lyrics to Ordinary People. “I do this because I like people, it was nice to change strangers to fans, to make them get involved. Particularly in the end of the video, you can see I got drunk with people, that was mad, and it was a really fun day, ” Richard said, “some people didn’t want to hold up the signs, then I said something to make them open and get involved, it was challenging, but rewarding.”

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Richard appeals people to engage in his MV. Photo from Cuzn.

About Busking Policy

In most parts of the Sydney CBD, including Martin Place, Town Hall, Pitt St Mall, and Hyde Park, busking is governed by the City of Sydney, while the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority controls busking at Circular Quay, Rocks and Darling Harbour.

According to Busking Policy  by City of Sydney, buskers need to apply for busking permits. Moreover, the area and time is restricted. Buskers could only busking in restricted area shown in the Busking Sites Maps.

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Busking Restricted Areas. Source: Busking Sites Maps (2011)

Time restrictions make it unfeasible for buskers as well . For example, Pitt St Mall is not permitted prior to 2 pm on weekdays and 11 am on weekends and buskers may only stay for an hour . Therefore, buskers should line up each morning at Pitt st Mall for an hour-long spot to play. Besides, maximum of 2 hours for standard busking and maximum of 8 hours for pavement art are allowed  at elsewhere except Pitt St Mall in the Sydney City.

“The policy makes it hard for us, absolutely, but if you obey it, it would be fine. Have a fight with policy is not cool, you don’t want that, kill you survive.” Richard said, “I have been also dealing with councils, you know, if you busk a lot, the council will restrict you a lot.”

“It’s so worthy for the good time,sun is not predictable, you can’t expect everything from busking, because it would be passed down for a week with rain, then you can’t perform, you can’t sell CDs and make money, it isn’t reliable, so don’t rely on busking forever.” said Richard.

A documentary of Richard, filmed in Sydney, shot and edited by Qian (Angela) Lu.

Qian LU  (Angela)

SID: 450429523

Word count:1071

 

Blog feature proposal – Profiling the floral artist

by Laura Syvaniemi

Student ID 440582669

 

For my online profile feature piece I would like to give the reader a glimpse into the world of creative floral design and shine a light on the person behind the blooms. Through an interview with one of Sydney’s talented wedding and event florists, I would like to share the story of one woman’s love for creation, the struggles and triumphs of creative entrepreneurship and how the seemingly simple process of flower arranging is actually behind the scenes a form of art.

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Few people realise the amount of work and love that goes into creating high end floral design. Behind the immaculate arrangements is so much more. Hours of administration work, 4 AM mornings at the flower markets, literal blood, sweat and tears in the design studio, hands stripped raw and bleary-eyed all-nighters to pull off floral event designs ranging from small and delicate to statement en masse. Florists work with what may well be the most delicate of all design materials: living things.

With lush greenery and statement floral installations heavily trending in weddings for 2016 and 2017, creative florists are the new event design superstars. They are romantically portrayed in fine art wedding publications; forest-foraging, carelessly luxe, slow living and Kinfolk-toting descendants of Mother Earth. However the reality behind the business of florals is far less glamorous – or is it?

I am reaching out to a few of Sydney’s most renowned floral designers, such as Emily Michele Smith of Boutierre Girls who is my personal industry idol and who has created an immensely successful floral business in only two years. Other options for interviewees might be Sydney-based florists Jardine Botanic or My Violet, both creators of a similar organic and artistic style.

As it is wedding season – and it’s always season for those in most demand – and spare time is scarce, it’s possible that another angle and type of interviewee may be needed to switch to. In this case I could contact less renowned florists and hear the story of their budding (no pun intended!) dream.

As this feature is a profile, it is highly subjective and only briefly touches upon wider, mainly wedding, event and floral industry-related contexts and topics. It works as a human interest piece as well as an insight into a niche, aimed mainly at the industry but possibly interesting to a far larger audience – especially that of brides planning their weddings. Online delivery would preferrably be aided by strong use of visuals, if possible photographs of the interior of a floral studio as well as the artist at work.

An online publication suitable for this profile piece would be wedding blog Hello May, which is read by brides and industry creatives alike and which also publishes a print counterpart.

Word count: 466

(Image: Creative Commons Zero licensed via unsplash.com)

Busking in Sydney: It’s tougher than you think

 

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Busker Joseph Zarb performing in Martin Place, Sydney. Photo: Steven Siewert 

 

This is a proposal for a feature article about the Sydney buskers’ life under the restricted busking policy.

 

Busking in Sydney

Busking, also known as street performance, is the act of performing in public places to earn money. The common form of busking is singing or playing music. There are other forms as well, such as acrobatics, magic and pavement art. People engaging in this practice are called buskers.

In Sydney CBD, people can see buskers everywhere, especially at the Martin Place, Pitt st Mall, Town Hall, Circular Quay and Darling Harbour. Busking culture enrich the city as well.

Busking is more a job than a hobby for most buskers, and some of them become popular among Sydney such as Joseph Zarb, a guitarist playing at Martin Place, and Ky Baldwin, a 15-year-old singer and songwriter.

Policy of Busking

In most parts of the Sydney CBD, including Martin Place, Town Hall, Pitt st Mall, and Hyde Park, busking is governed by the City of Sydney Busking Policy, while the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority controls busking at Circular Quay, Rocks and Darling Harbour.

According to City of Sydney (2011), buskers need to apply for busking permits. Moreover, the area and time is restricted. Buskers could only busking in restricted area shown in the Busking Sites Maps.

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Busking Restricted Areas. Source: Busking Sites Maps (2011)

Time restrictions make it unfeasible for buskers as well . For example, Pitt st Mall is not permitted prior to 2pm on weekdays and 11am on weekends and buskers may only stay for an hour (ibid.). Therefore, buskers should line up each morning at Pitt st Mall for an hour-long spot to play. Besides, maximum of 2 hours for standard busking and maximum of 8 hours for pavement art are allowed  at elsewhere except Pitt st Mall in the Sydney City.

Research shows Buskers Embrace Busking Policy

A finding in 2015 by Luke McNamara, Professor of the University of New South Wales, and Julia Quilter, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Wollongong, suggests that most buskers accept busking laws as a legitimate part of the urban environment, and see some advantages in the rules (McNamara & Quilter, 2015).

Story Angel and Interviewees

The feature article is mainly to focus on the life of buskers in Sydney, why they choose to busking in Sydney, how the busking policy affect them and how they face to the busking policy.

Interviewees would be buskers in Sydney CBD listed as following.

1.CuzN Band: a busking group originally from South England but now based in Sydney, Australia. It consists of three people, they are Richard Soward, the lead vocal, guitar player and percussion, Jamie Ray, the bass player and Lawrence Gratton, the violin player. They usually busking at Pitt st Mall, which is the most time restricted place.

2.Maia Jelavic: a folk music singer and songwriter borned in Central Coast and now lived in Sydney. Maia could also play guitar, banjo and ukulele. She usually busking at Pitt st Mall as well.

Online Delivery

Photographs of buskers performing on the street need to be taken to enrich the feature article, videos of their performances are demanded as well. All of these documents can be shoot and edited by myself with my digital camera. It is important to ask for the interviewees’ consent to the portrait right and music copyright.

Target Audience and Online Publications

Target audience of the feature article are:

1.Citizens of Sydney who love or know busking culture.

2.Buskers in Sydney.

Therefore, target online publications of the feature article are some online platforms of mainstream publications with high circulations and targeting citizens such as:

1.Sydney Morning Herald (Life column).

2.The Daily Telegraph (Music column).

3.ABC News (Music column).

as well as :

Vice Australia: It is a print magazine and website focused on arts, culture, and news topics. The magazine was launched in 1994 and the website was founded in 1996. Vice now has 5.1 million and 17.2 thousand followers in Facebook and Twitter sites respectively.

 

Qian LU  (Angela)

SID: 450429523

Word count:666

 

References:

City of Sydney. (2011, July 11). Interim Busking Policy. Retrieved from http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/100281/Busking-policy-interim.pdf

Quilter, J. & McNamara, L. (2015). ‘Long may the buskers carry on busking’: Street music and the law in Melbourne and Sydney. Retrieved from http://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/1774553/05-Quilter-and-McNamara.pdf