In a period of time when we're inundated with what feels like consistent bad news, we wanted to put some emphasis on the positive. This is another installment in "Collective Conversations," a weekly series focusing on a woman we think is awesome + what she's all about. This week we're talking to Katie Burgham, florist extraordinaire, artist, nature-lover, and long-time collaborator of ours. She's built the blooms for Melbourne's best, from brilliant bouquets to delicate flower crowns. She has a passion for sustainable sourcing and is setting the trend by encouraging more florists to utilize local farmers. We talked to her about why she loves what she does.
1. Describe yourself in three words?
Creative, kind, optimistic ....or at least I try to be!
2. What do heritage and tradition mean to you?
When I think of Heritage and Tradition, I think of family and friends that become family! My Nana is Austrian and left Austria after she married my Grandad who was an English soldier. They moved to New Zealand when my Mum was a teenager so we have these kinds of made-up traditions, like always having Sauerkraut on Christmas eve. Christmas is a big deal in my family and usually involves lots of food.
I think traditions morph and change and we sort of collect and add to the ones we already have along the way.
3. Something that you're passionate about?
Flowers! A big focus in the industry at the moment and in my practice is supporting local growers and avoiding imported flowers. It seems crazy that we import roses from as far away as Kenya and Ecuador when we have incredible growers here in Victoria.
4. Who do you most admire?
I am so lucky to have so many incredible people in my life who I admire, like you two!! Flower-wise, I really love Constance Spry. She believed flowers should be for everyone, and she also wasn’t scared of breaking rules. She used flowers that florists at the time didn’t use, like autumnal hydrangea, grasses, and berries. In the 1930s, she created a window display for a perfume company using kale leaves and red roses, it attracted a crowd so big the police had to come and direct traffic. If I am ever feeling low on inspiration I read her little book "How to Do the Flowers."
5. What is a weekly/monthly/fortnightly ritual or tradition you do for yourself?
Sneaking off to my local nursery and spending way too long and way too much on new plants (pre covid!). Going out to eat, trying new places, either with my partner or friends, also pre Covid!
6. What is something you're proud of?
Following my passions and becoming a florist.
7. What are some traditions that you’ve adopted from somewhere or someone else?
About a month or more before Christmas my Nana would start baking all of these delicious Austrian biscuits called Vanillekipferl, she would also make actual buckets full of fruit mince pies. A lot of these would be to give to neighbors and friends. I would make Vanillekipferl with my Mum and still try to now around Christmas time.
Also having oysters and champagne on my birthday!
8. How do you align and connect with your intuition?
Spending time in nature, gardening, or going for a long walk. I find if I am doubting myself or feeling overwhelmed this can really help. I think intuition plays a big part in creative jobs such as floristry, sometimes I just need to remind myself to ignore everything else and listen.
9. What's an assumption others make about you?
Hmm . . . I'm not sure about me personally, although a lot of people assume floristry is a relaxing and stress-free job. It actually can be very physical and stressful at times but also incredibly rewarding.
10. Is there an item that you would like to see from Collective Closets in the future?
Just keep the incredible collections coming so you can keep being my dream clients and collaborators!!
11. What is something you do to be kind to yourself?