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Check out the wonderful chat we had with Lauren Pilkington, Founder and Creative Director of Poppy Culture.
We learnt so much from her, delving into floral arrangements to match your vibe, theme or even wedding dress, all the way to incorporating seasonal or not seasonal floral into your day. This might mean importing florals, or even using artificial floral as a base. The opportunities are endless.
Anthony Hi, guys. Welcome to another episode of Till Death Do Us Podcast.
Anthony As you know, COVID has meant that we’re all working from home. And it’s been a real pleasure to speak to all these amazing wedding suppliers. Today, I speak to Lauren Pilkington from Poppy Culture. They’re in Mornington, and they do amazing work, amazing floral work, for events and weddings are a huge part of what they do. She offers some incredible advice on floral. You know, it is important. It does create a certain vibe. I could go on, but I’m just going to take you straight to the podcast and have a listen to Lauren and all the amazing advice she gives today.
Anthony Thanks. Thanks so much for giving us your time. It’s really great to speak to you.
Lauren Thank you. Thanks for reaching out.
Anthony No, no worries. I know. I know that you’re pregnant, too, which is amazing. You have timed that really well haven’t you.
Lauren I did in the end. At first I was a bit worried about it, but now I’m sort of like, well, why not just have a baby.
Anthony Without the pressure of having all these jobs that, you know, on a busy season.
Lauren Well, I was thinking it was going to be yeah, at the start of the next season, but now everything’s been pushed out. So we do have that downtime, I guess. So that’s one positive.
Anthony We’ll start recording the podcast. And, you know, for our listeners, tell us a little bit about, you know, how you got started. And Poppy Culture, cause you do such amazing work and we love shooting all your amazing artistry.
Lauren Sure. Well, I actually started with a background in fashion design and photography. So I actually studied fashion design and product development at uni. And I was working in the industry for about I think it was about eight years, but my favourite part of that was dealing with kind of editorial sort of photo shoot work and merchandising and also the product development side of it, with dealing with textures and colours and tones and just really very much that visual presentation of everything that came into the fashion world. That is really a big part of, I suppose, the art world in general, which includes like floristry and all sorts of other platforms. And I had to do as part of the visual merchandising in some of these events set up. I was responsible just for organising the florals and I just loved it. I just really, really enjoyed being around the flowers, I don’t know anything about them. I didn’t really know anything to do with, you know, what was tropical, what was garden, what was this? What you should and shouldn’t put together. So the rules didn’t really apply to me. I kind of learned off the back of just putting together what I liked, rather than what I learned further down the track, particularly from some people that were like, no, no, you shouldn’t do it that way, you should do it this way. And so I did end up getting a job working in a retail florist on the weekends. I was working Monday to Friday in my role in fashion. And then I got a weekend job because I was saving up for my own wedding at the time, actually. And that was just almost like a passion project on the side. And I loved it so much that they ended up offering me almost like an internship, I suppose. And I’ve got to learn on the job, out the back in the studio and I got to learn a lot of the rules that I obviously would have missed out on from having not done like a tertiary background in floristry. And I was able to apply sort of my love and flair for texture and finding something a bit unique and artistic, and then also applying a few of the rules of understanding, you know, design and also how flowers work and what works together. But that was very retail base, whereas I really wanted to still work very much on displays and events and large scale. So that was something that the retail shop didn’t really offer. And that’s where I kind of explored that a little bit on the side for myself. And yeah, weddings just took off from there. So, yeah, that’s kind of how it began.
Anthony And, you know, weddings offer a certain level of creative control, too, and is that the same? Well within the videographer’s space that is the case. And is the case within floristry?
Lauren Well, I think it’s really great now with all the different visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to have the client come to you with, like a very excited sort of sense of inspiration of their own. That they they might not necessarily know exactly how to communicate exactly what they want, but they’ve seen things that they like and that they love. Or things that they don’t like. And they come to you with that information, and that’s where our expertise probably comes into it. And that’s where we get excited because we can sort of go, okay, they’re really going for this look and feel and we can imagine doing this. And so that’s where we can then offer the solutions that are in line then with what we already know they’re attracted to. And hopefully will work in with their own personal vibe and flair. So it’s very much making sure that we’re identifying with the client, whether it’s a wedding client or an event client like a brand or something, like making sure that our creativity does reflect their brand or their image or their theme. And yeah, the fun part is then communicating to them that we understand their look and feel and following through.
Anthony So with a couple who come to you, you know, is that the normal process you’d go through to work out what you’re gonna be doing for them on their day? I mean, do you suggest that they go to Instagram and, you know, find inspiration and then from that, you then explore more ideas? How does it normally work?
Lauren I think that’s the best way. Because it’s so visual and there are just so many options. And with flowers as well, they’re very seasonal. So you might see an image of something, you go, I absolutely love that. But what is included in that might not be seasonal at the time. And then that’s where we consider or still offer the suggestion for getting the best nearest sort of solution to that visually. So I think having inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram, I think everybody enjoys that side of the research anyway. So that seems to be the way that we communicate visually.
Lauren And people are often either, they’ve been on our website, or they’ve been on Instagram and they might, you know, share back with us some work of our own that we’ve done that they’ve really appreciated or things that they’ve seen other people that have done. And so we then will create a vision board based on what we understand from their sort of shared inspiration. And it also allows us then, when we provide the visual board and the quotation, we itemise everything individually as well and offer lots of multiple options because obviously price comes into it as well. And so then trying to factor in cost consideration as well as our understanding of what’s possible, and what might not be possible either at a certain venue or based on a timeframe or whatever the consideration might be. So, yeah, we’re very thorough with the process of once we’ve had a consultation. So once they’ve kind of made contact with us and we’ve set up a consultation, ideally it would be in person at the studio. But at the moment we’re doing plenty of Zoom consultations and things but yeah, we just go back and forth with the visuals, but then also a lot of explanation and options in a quote. And then we just go from there.
Anthony So I imagine there’d be quite a number of things you would consider in terms of the overall theme, and what comes to mind is perhaps, you know, obviously the space that the event’s going to be held in, the dress and the outfits that are going to be worn and the colour palette there. You know, how do you work in with with those variables?
Lauren Well, definitely wanting to work with their colour palette is so important. Everything, it’s really important to us that we are complementing the overall theme. So that’s where we love to have as much information as possible about the event. And so whether that’s coming directly from the couple, if it’s a wedding themselves or whether they have employed someone like a stylist or planner. It’s not uncommon for us to be dealing with them, they actually might provide us with a style board and then make sure that we are very much representing the florals amongst that. And so, yeah, it is really important that we connect with all of the other elements involved when it comes to a venue, particularly ones that we’ve worked with before. It’s great to be able to kind of explore new and exciting ways of creating that space from just being, if it’s like a restaurant or something to something, it’s you know, plain as it is. And then all of a sudden you’re recreating it into a theme and into a personalised event. So that’s something we take pride on a lot. I think is making sure that every single time, rather than it being a very cookie cutter experience, that you are really trying to make it very individual and personalised. And that’s the fun part, is really bringing that to life.
Anthony And I don’t think, you know, for those who haven’t experienced walking into a room where there’s been some amazing floral set up, just the impact that it has on on the way you respond to an environment, then I think it’s such an important part of setting a vibe for an event. I’ve got a question about the order, because as you were talking about these things that you consider, in what order should couples perhaps be booking suppliers? Should they go to a stylist first, work out the dress and the outfits and then florals? Is there an ideal sort of, you know, way of approaching the whole overall theme and managing suppliers? What’s your suggestion there?
Lauren Well, I think that definitely comes down to when they’ve done their research and finding their visual inspiration. So if they’ve found something that they like, I absolutely have fallen in love with this look, then you need to start from the basics of okay, what is the venue? The venue is so important. So booking the venue obviously also that allows for the date. So then you know that following on all of your vendors are going to be available for the date. So venue is key and that then helps us. That’s our platform. That’s our canvas. We still have a lot of people, though, that like they sort of go, no, I just know that flowers are really important to me. Photography is really important to me. Videography is really important to me. I want to book all of those things in first, and then I’m going to look at dresses and things later. I do think that that’s possible. Kind of depends. Every bride is different. Some of them have fallen in love with the dress and they’ve found it and their whole event works around the details to do with their dress. So it could be that they’ve they’ve held on to that image. But we do find people like to try and book us in early and then that allows them.. We’re still really flexible with the look in the feel. So I’ve always said that every client too, is that we might start with the whole theme and it might be coastal. It might be everything’s really neutral and relaxed and bohemian. And then all of a sudden six months down the track, and the bride might go to High Street Armadale and find the most amazing gown. And it’s really formal. And it’s like completely encrusted with diamonds. And then they’re going actually that relaxed coastal vibe is not going to work with the dress and we change it. You know, we adapt. That’s totally fine too. I think really booking the suppliers in early regardless is important. Like if you know sort of who you want to work with and particularly those that have worked together really well. I think having the suppliers booked in is important. And then the details can still come. So that’s where maybe the the colours, maybe the the actual, you know, the dresses and the suits and all of those things can still be a working progress. And we will all, being professionals, work together to make sure that it all complements at the end.
Anthony You talk about flowers being seasonal. And obviously that’s a very important consideration. You know, what are your thoughts on that? I’m sure you can still come up with amazing florals in winter. Equally as you would in summer. What are your general thoughts on seasonal flowers and how does that impact on the work that you do?
Lauren Yeah, definitely. Well, funnily enough, I mean, things are a little bit different at the moment with COVID and everything and the restrictions and importing. But there are actually many, many varieties that might be traditionally only available in, say, you know, November and December or something like that, that are now available to us all year round. And that is thanks to the importing process. So we do get things like peonies which were, like November is an extremely busy month for weddings because there are so many people that are just absolutely in love with the idea of having peonies as part of their floral content. And we adore them as well. But now you can actually, we can extend that season out to January, even over those early months for us in summer, because we’re getting the New Zealand peonies coming through from January once our Australian ones are kind of finished in December. And then there’s another flush that comes through from Europe into the winter months. So where we’re really actually very lucky that we do have access to those. But it kind of also then depends on the client themselves. If there is a premium involved with that, I suppose, with imports and that sort of thing. But if they’re open to it, then we’re open to sourcing it on their behalf and utilising those import florals. But also there is, sometimes people just prefer to use what is in season and it can be a little bit more cost effective. And obviously utilising local suppliers is something that we like to encourage as well. So just depends on a few different factors. But it is something that now you can kind of get the majority of florals throughout the year. And then I suppose there’s a trend happening at the moment with all the dried elements and the preserved flowers and even using a base of artificial and things like that, that you can get some extremely realistic looking artificial. People are using justice like a base, and then they go over the top with the fresh elements and you can really get depth and you can really get the look and the feel from using all of these different methods, I suppose, of bringing together that fresh summer, spring look in winter like we can we can make it happen.
Anthony Interesting. Interesting. And, you know, there is a certain push now for more sustainable use of floral. What’s your take on it? How important is it to you and your team?
Lauren Yeah, sustainability. I think now in the modern sort of era of event planning and weddings, it’s definitely more and more important to everybody. So we actually our team, we meet regularly to discuss and brainstorm different ways of actually putting together arrangements that are not as environmentally detrimental, I suppose, as the more traditional methods. Things like utilising floral foam, which is something, it’s a product that I think most florists would have relied upon very heavily throughout, you know, many, many recent years even, but certainly previously for installation work. So now there are a lot of platforms, lots of industry led sort of initiatives, I suppose, of sharing information and methods to be able to do things a little bit more sustainably. And so we’re practicing that regularly. We’re still sort of learning it. I suppose, as we go. But it’s definitely something that we’re all working towards. It’s a very important element.
Anthony And it’s constantly evolving too, isn’t it?
Lauren It is yeah, But that’s where I think it’s great that the industry itself is sharing their knowledge and everyone is wanting to see it as a greater good.
Anthony Absolutely. Are you getting couples who are requesting a more sustainable approach to their florals?
Lauren Yeah, we are. And so that’s been something that we’re really, it’s very encouraging, actually. So there is like there is an element there of, they’re preserved florals that are available these days. But also in that they come with their own issues also. So it’s just kind of navigating the pros and cons of every way of looking at the options. So with the preserved flowers, as much as they would last a lot longer and you can either repeat use them or you could certainly enjoy them as an arrangement for a longer period of time. There are still chemical processes in those and there’s dyes and all sorts of things. That then is a separate issue in itself. And so it’s just depending on weighing up and educating both ourselves within the industry, but also our clients as to the environmental impact and sustainability and what that means and what it is that they’re hoping to achieve out of their florals and ways that we can best assist with that. So we’re learning every day, as you say.
Anthony Absolutely. What advice would you give a couple who are needing florals and, you know, every couple needs florals. What advice do you give them in terms of, you know, how they might find a supplier? And just you know, working with a supplier that’s going to suit their day.
Lauren Yeah, sure. I definitely think Instagram is amazing. I think seeing something that you absolutely love and working back from there. So whether it’s that you’ve chosen your venue and then you’ve seen some amazing work that’s been done at that venue, like checking out the suppliers that are familiar with that space is really good. I think when you work with people that are familiar with the space or familiar with other suppliers that you’ve already contacted or that you’re looking to work with, you’ll find that the true professionals in the industry work really well together. So I think working on a network of people that are well aware of how each other work and you can just seamlessly sort of interconnect with how the day will flow. And we communicate with each other outside of the actual event date to try and minimise as much impact on the couples as we can. So I think finding people that work really well together is important. It’s like having a little team, your tribe, your professional tribe. That would probably be my key piece of advice is just find people that work really well together.
Anthony Good advice. So important. It’ll certainly make their wedding planning a whole lot less stressful, that’s for sure. You know, when they’ve got a good bunch of suppliers who are full time and professional and dedicated their career to what they do. I mean, that’s really important.
Anthony You said before Lauren, you know, you love being challenged, going to a new space and thinking outside the box in terms of how you’re going to bring it to life. But surely there’s got to be a favorite, go to arrangement look and and tell me a little bit about that.
Lauren Well, yeah, definitely, I think we love to do, at Poppy Culture anyway. Like, we just really love to do large scale. Something that’s, the whole idea of transporting, like you were saying before, like when you walk into a venue and the whole place, is just kind of transported from being, what was a restaurant into this whole brand new world. Like, I think having aerial displays where possible. Not every venue allows for it, but where possible, having like a large scale installation, some giant, enormous aerial that’s just like a canopy of florals or decorative elements, lighting, whatever it might be as well. It just takes you from, you know, your everyday life into a completely brand new world. And we just love it. Like we love putting it together. It’s a big job. But the impact and just seeing people’s reactions and just, that is probably one of the most rewarding things. I just love doing large scale impact arrangements. And I think that’s something we try and encourage our clients, is when you’re thinking about budget considerations, because everyone goes, oh but that would be so expensive and they can be. But when you’re thinking of an overall budget to actually put some money into one, like a singular impact piece, I think is so much more worthwhile than breaking it up into tiny little bits and pieces everywhere that kind of just get lost among the abyss of a wedding. So if you can have a singular impact piece, you just will never be disappointed. And people just, they talk about it. They take photos of it. It really does set the theme.
Anthony Yeah. And it’s true, isn’t it? It is very true. It’s going to be visible then. And like you say, it will have an impact and there’s no better place to have an impact than within the venue where everyone’s going to see it and socialise and just be present. You know, that’s important to set the atmosphere, I think.
Lauren And I feel like if they’ve chosen a venue for a reason, let the venue be the venue, like they can do their tables and make it quite beautiful. And if we can just do something that’s a themed impact, then they’re getting the best of both worlds.
Anthony You mentioned lighting. Is that something that you’re playing with?
Lauren Sometimes we do.
Anthony It’s so important.
Lauren It is! And I just, ambiance like candles, even just creating mood. And so that’s where colour, tone, texture and lighting all comes into it. And we sometimes might incorporate some fairy lights amongst our installations or festoon lighting and things like that. Very on a basic level. But we love working with some external suppliers that do provide like professional lighting installations. So we’ve even done some beautiful work with chandelier companies where we’ve done floral canopies with these amazing, like decorative chandeliers coming through them or, you know, really working with a few different unique and modern sort of options there, too. I think lighting is really important for the whole space. And that, again, is, setting the ambiance.
Anthony Lauren, thank you so much for your time. A real pleasure talking to you.
Lauren Thanks for having me.
Anthony We could talk for hours about floral. So important, but you’ve given our audience some really good tips. Thank you so much.
Lauren You’re welcome. Thank you.