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Post by on October 10, 2016

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Rialto People: Helen P. of Fruits For You and Flowers Too – Floral Arrangement Melbourne

By Phoebe F. @Rialto


You might have noticed a vast array of floristry on display at the Concierge Desk over the past few months. We’ve been trialling a range of new florists and are proud to have chosen the gorgeous displays from Fruits For You and Flowers Too to grace our new desks in the new building!

They started displaying for us last month, so we sat down with the glamorous Helen to talk all things botany-related.

How long have you worked as a florist and how did you come to be working in this field?

I came into this industry over 18 years ago. It occurred by fluke when I decided not to return to my corporate career after having my baby. I was enjoying watching my son grow but lacking adult conversation and mental stimulation. Obviously I was highly strung from my previous job! I looked to take on a hobby. My husband has been a premium greengrocer in the leafy suburb of Hawthorn for the past 40 years, servicing some very discerning families and restaurants, including the well-known Stephanie’s!

After realising we had access to a great product that can be easily turned into a necessity, I created Fruit For You, a high-end, quality fruit hamper company servicing the premium corporate market. I then added in Australian cheeses and wines and French Champagne to round out the offerings. Within two years of the hamper company making inroads we embarked on the ever-requested addition of flowers – et voila! In 2003. Fruit For You & Flowers Too was born. Since then, companies such as Metricon, BMW, ANZ,and many others cemented our presence as their preferred supplier.

What does a typical work day consist of?

My alarm goes off at 6.30am and there are times when I don’t switch off before 8.30pm-9pm. My day starts with receiving all our orders off the internet; most are placed during the night from overseas and local clients. The team comes together to discuss what work needs to be done first and in what order of priority it will be executed. I have client appointments after 11.30am, as I like to oversee all our orders making sure we don’t miss anything important. I usually consult personally on all events and occasions.

What was your first job?

My first job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken at 15, as a hostess.

What style would you say you have when it comes to creating flower arrangements and how do you find inspiration for your creations?

It’s hard to call it a style. On one hand, we have partaken in presentation evenings where the crowd is mostly men. The requirement is minimalistic and very masculine with wood and steel, so soft florals are definitely not appropriate. In that case, lots of bark, pods organic matter fits perfectly. Simultaneously we have a Spring Carnival event for Oaks Day, full of fluff and pink and pretty. I take on each occasion for what it is and embrace my client’s needs by firstly seeing the space and the environment.

That sounds incredible. Has there been one arrangement which stood out as your favourite?

In 2007 we presented different arrangements daily for the Australian Mushroom Association in the Australian Fine Food trade show. We put together a very large and proud arrangement with olive roots, oriental lilies and almost ten different varieties of mushrooms. It stood two metres high and one-metre-wide with in excess of a thousand mushrooms, clustered on the stem of the olive root as if they had grown there. Coupled with the oriental lilies and other blooms it made for an exquisite presentation and the talking point of the whole show.

Wow, that sounds spectacular! What are your favourite places to gather inspiration for your work in Melbourne?

I love to commune with nature. I live bayside so I draw on the beach, sand, rocks and wind for some inspiration, however, my love and my joy in my work comes from each season. I get excited when I see all the autumnal colours in our parks: burnt oranges and reds, the crispy leaves and branches. Likewise, how can you not love spring, the soft pink blossom and the ‘girly’ pastel colours?  Every year it reminds me how lucky we are to see each season come and go. I particularly love green combined with red or blue in the winter with the plethora of tropical options available.

What’s your ideal weekend?

After nearly 20 years in this industry, I have come to appreciate my weekends! I definitely pick and choose which weddings I do and whom I work with. I’ve become very selfish -or wise- in my later years! My ideal weekend starts with a PT session or boxing followed by breakfast at a bayside cafe where I can see and smell the sea. After that, catch up with a friend or go shopping in the markets.

We’re almost out every Saturday night with friends, enjoying Melbourne’s finest restaurants and Sunday is always a lazy Sunday morning with a lavish brunch and attending to the garden until the early evening where I ponder on my week ahead and attend to some of the early Monday morning corporate work. Otherwise, we go for drives to the hills for some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of our week.

That sounds like a perfect weekend, thanks for the chat Helen! You’ll see Helen every Monday morning dropping off our gorgeous weekly display. You’ll also have the chance to win the same display in a Friday flower auction, valued at $250! All proceeds go to the Salvation Army.

Want to share your story with the Rialto Community? Get in touch with the Concierge Team or drop by the desk to arrange an interview!  Rialto Link