I remember when I first met Saskia Havekes from Grandiflora. I was a fashion assistant, she was a just-starting-out florist and we both had to lug bunches and bunches of lillies and magnoila leaves down a cliff face for a bridal shoot.
Even then she had the most amazing knack for turning a stick into art, a pod into a picture – she has such an original, special touch with all things nature and that has translated into Grandiflora becoming one of the most in-demnad florist/event businesses in Australia (and the world).
Saskia is a mum, a genius and so, so lovely – there’s actually a picture of her next to the word in the dictionary. Here’s a special peak inside her fragrant world.
Describe your personality in three words.
Strong, shy and observant.
What inspires you?
Strong character and determination, Mother Nature, the universe as a whole, colours and travel.
How would you describe Grandiflora and your floristry style?
Independent, brave and picked from the garden with a twist to catch the eye and the imagination.
Describe a typical day for you.
My day starts with two alarms and I’m up at 3:50am off to the market in buying and discovery mode. I always enjoy seeing the morning unfold and the beauty of what is on offer out at the markets. After strong coffee at Champs café I head back to the shop to really officially start my day. Site inspections, clients, consultations, concepts and floral bunches fill the majority of my working hours returning home at 7:30pm to an energetic house of children, dogs and sometimes friends for dinner. The occasional event to attend is a lovely way to break up the week and to discover more of what is happening.
If you weren’t a florist, what would you be?
An opera singer, I love music and would love the ability to sing professionally. I would also love the luxury of being a full-time mum.
Favourite floral aroma?
Magnolia Grandiflora, white daphne, moulacca balm and artichoke stem.
How do you juggle raising children and running your own business?
I have always enlisted the help of my mother who I trust and knew will love and care for my kids just the way I would (as she did for us). It’s always compromising and emotionally challenging. Being organised really helps but finding a gap in any day is always seen as an opportunity to spend time with my children.
Any advice for other career-driven mothers?
Be brave, keep moving forward and observe. Maximise what gives you energy and makes you enthusiastic. Trust who are close to you. Try not to be distracted by the opinions of others.
Fresh Flower Tips.
Tell us about three of your (recent) favourite events that you worked on?
1. A wedding at Paramount Studios in Surry Hills. We brought in fifteen advanced fruiting trees and palms, craned in with the help of eight men. Six Bamboo plants soaring eight metres tall. Votives in Moroccan colours filled the window sills. Three floors were decorated. This was the ground. It was an incredible experience being able to decorate on such a large scale.
2. Decorating the library on the shoot for Vogue with Lana Del Rey. Using honest old fashioned blooms, daisies, daffodils, corn flowers. Placing the old bloom in her hair.
3. Bec and Bridge runway flower wall measuring eight metres long by eleven high. From 1am – 4am up and down ladders and a cherry picker using lush foliages, huge palm and banana leaves. White flowers of phalaenopsis orchids, hydrangeas cascaded down the greens. After the show it all had to be removed and cleared out in twenty minutes. Adrenaline was pumping.
Any trends you’re currently noticing in the flower world?
With the accessibility to social media and photo sharing platforms such as instagram, pinterest and twitter it connects not just those in the industry but our clients also with what is going on around the world when it comes to styling, flowers and events. The possibilities are endless; with so much access to the world of flowers, requests are now truly unique, tailored to each individual style, with some opting for the bold, big and beautiful kind of installations to those that may want the simplicity of the most incredible single stem of one rare bloom.
What’s your favourite flower combination?
Each season presents certain flowers that always make a winning combination…
Winter: cymbidium orchids, japonica, cluster of parrot tulips or Queen of the Night tulips.
Spring: pierrus, guilder rose, burgundy magnolia, lilac, dogwood.
Summer: Magnolia Grandiflora, white lotus and white water lilies with rich velvet leaves. Perhaps a twist of tuberose.
Autumn: Big West Australian gum, Macrocarpa, with Japanese Maple in its glorious tones, with masses of berries.
What combination of flowers do you think should never been mixed together?
The art is making any combination work.
Is your home constantly filled with flowers? How do you work them into your décor?
Greenery, as it lasts, specific blooms to see how they open, change as a means of testing to see how they will perform for an event.
Best piece of advice for those who want to send a loved one or colleague a bunch of flowers, but have a limited budget?
Always ask your florist what’s fresh, in season and abundant to send as a grouping of the same type of flower.
Any floral no-no’s or mistakes you see people make?
1. Using the wrong vase – any flower can be beautiful depending on the way you present it.
2. Not cleaning the vase properly and having a residue rim around the vase.
3. Dirty water.
4. Elastic bands kept on the flower bunches.
Top five favourite flowers in season right now?
1. Lily of the Valley.
3. Pink Waratah.
4. Skin toned Anenome.
5. Cream Maureen Tulips.
What She Wore.
Megan Park top
Fernando Frisoni blue jacket, Topshop jeans, Belinda Spender top
Giorgio Armani blazer, Lee Mathews black silk top, Malene Birger pants
Her Style Influences.
How would you describe your own style?
Who’s your celebrity style crush?
What three pieces do you find yourself wearing constantly?
What is your most treasured piece of clothing in your closet?
A Dries Van Noten jacket.
What’s in your closet that you’ve never worn before?
Marni sandals, ready for summer.
What was your most recent purchase?
A Comme Des Garçons black dress.
Anything on your wish list?
An incredibly beautiful Lanvin painted silk dress I have driven by time after time at Arida in Woollahra.
What fashion advice do you live by?
“Elegance is not what you wear, not about how you wear it but who you are” - Alber Elbaz.
The LifeStyled List.
Tea or Coffee? Extra hot, strong flat white, my first for the day followed up by a weak long black.
Favourite Flower? Magnolia Grandiflora.
Heels or Flats? Wedge/flat Marni sandals and my trusty RM Williams boots.
Favourite Cocktail? Negroni.
Style Icon? Michelle Jank/Mrs Ong of CLUB 21.
Signature Scent? Magnolia Grandiflora (our own fragrance soon to be released 2013).
Favourite City? Portofino.
Reading… ’The Perfect Scent‘ by Chandler Burr and ‘The Glass Castle‘ by Jeannette Walls.
Listening…Rodrigues, Alexander Ebert – Truth, Nick Drake and Hazmat Modine.
Every home should have… Candles.
Biggest fashion weakness… Shoes, lingerie, bracelets & scarves.
Guilty pleasure… a trip to Greenfields.
Every woman should own… a beautiful piece of jewellery.
I will never wear…tight white pants.
Can’t live without… acupuncture.
I want….to release our fragrance in France next year. And to work with Thierry Boutemy.