I dragged out the morning I spent with sparky Lucy Houghton for as long as I could. It started with rain before revealing a balmy Auckland spring day and her great chat and “work materials” were so magnetic that I found myself well and truly settled into a sunny corner of her studio/garage.
There aren’t many people out there who don’t love a lush bouquet of flowers and I count hundreds that hold fantasies of ditching everything to morph into a florist – its a romantic and popular notion!
Well I met a real life successful version of one of those people that ran straight for that fantasy and made it her life.
Read on friends. It looks good.
Lucy gew up on the Hibiscus Coast just north of Auckland and on leaving school headed to Wellington to do a Diploma in Photography at Massey University. After graduating she headed to Melbourne where she began the slow grind of breaking into and working her way up in the bustling but packed photography industry. She juggled odd jobs with work at a commercial studio before deciding to head back to Auckland to pursue her own career.
Despite going through the motions she found the scene was crowded, competition for work intense and came to the realisation that she simply wasn’t packing the same passion and hunger to make it work like her peers.
So she turned to the fashion industry and found work assisting and being the “general dogs body” for a successful NZ designer. Working so hard on someone elses business did provoke some fire in her – and that was to pursue her own! She considered being at the helm of your own business a special and lucky position to acheive and on seeing the lack of importance placed on that by her employer she realised she had the zest to do it herself….but what would it be?!
Sweet sweet luscious flowers thats what!
Lucy had always harboured a love of them and as a creative outlet enjoyed the quick and varied results. So in late 2012 she promptly quit her job and found work at the Floramax flower market in Mt. Wellington. She spent her summer with her fellow school girl co-workers starting work at 5am and distributing flowers onto trolleys for the florists, dairy owners and buyers purchasing at the auctions. For three months she soaked up the scene, gratefully lapped up the knowledge imparted to her and would take flowers home to “play with” every day.
During this time at the market, Valentines Day came around, so Lucy took the opportunity to test her style and skills. She created a Lu Diamond Flowers Facebook page, invited friends to “like” and posted a few posies for sale. The response was super positive and quickly flowed into a growing stream of orders.
Her network grew by both word of mouth and social media, and soon, in addition to her private orders she was providing flowers for the Glassons offices. She then popped up on the radar of Ruby brand manager; Anna-Lise Sharma and was invited to contribute to their blog with monthly floral posts and pop up stands in front of their stores.
Over the last 9 months Lucy has worked hard to meet the demand of her growing enterprise. She has cleared out and transformed her Ponsonby garage to accomodate her work and storing buckets of foliage and assembled bouquets. She visits her wholesaler out at Floramax 3 times a week to fill the private orders she receives through her recently set up online store, the growing roll of corporate clients and now her first wedding season.
I sat and watched her as she unpacked her market purchases, carefully pruning them then dunking in nice deep buckets of water to wait their turn. It was very clear to me that yes, there is definite merit in being trained in floristry, no doubt about that! But Lucy’s innate sense of style and rambling romantic aesthetic is simply not something that can be injected into someone. It lives in the eyes of a lucky few and only some of them discover that!!
I’m really excited to follow the Lu Diamond Flowers story into 2014 as its obvious to me that Lucy isn’t bound by any industry standards and at 26 she is only just starting to flex that flower wrangling arm!!All photography by Julia Atkinson for Studio Home
WHAT I LEARNT FROM LUCY HOUGHTON:
There are many unbeaten paths to the same destination.
Maybe your one suits you better than the standard highway!