About two seconds into my phone interview with Rosie Holt of Rose Tinted Flowers, there's a kerfuffle and muffled expletives as she drops her phone on the floor. "Sorry! I'm trying to wrangle a bouquet and a phone," she laughs. I can see why it would be hard to take a phone call while arranging one of her beautifully wild bouquets, but this florist is pretty adept at multi-tasking.
In just three and a half years, Rose Tinted Flowers has grown from modest beginnings in a garden shed to two Auckland shops, seven staff plus interns and contractors and a hectic calendar of weddings, corporate clients and creative projects. Rosie takes it all in her stride, with an infectious energy and upbeat disposition that must be crucial when tackling 4am starts at the flower market.
You could say floristry is in her blood (her mother is a florist in Nelson) but Rosie initially began in fashion buying before moving to advertising, which she realised was not the path for her. “So, I decided to become a florist and it was just as simple as that,” she says. “On the plus side, I learned lots of great marketing tools and am now able to run a florist business with a marketing mind.”
Born in England and raised in New Zealand from age 8, Rosie says growing up in the English countryside informed her romantically wild aesthetic and inspired her love of flowers. “My mum had an amazing garden with rows of roses and wild flowers. My grandmother had a beautiful country meadow-style garden too, so I based my aesthetic off that lifestyle and heritage. I love it; it’s wild and a little haphazard, kind of like me.”
The launch pad for Rose Tinted Flowers was initially a shed at the back of Rosie’s garden. Starting a florist business in the middle of winter had her wondering if she had made the right decision. “It was freezing and I had just left this cushy advertising job, and thought ‘I’ve made a huge mistake’. I had this tiny little heater by my feet, my hands were numb and I wasn’t making any money.” Three and a half years on, what is her biggest regret? “That I didn’t do it sooner.”
A cause close to Rosie’s heart is reducing the waste that comes with the floristry business. She recently began Florists Against Plastic, an initiative that encourages florists to choose Earth-friendly materials over single-use plastic bouquet wrappings, stem protector tubes and ribbons. She encourages replacing floral foam (water-holding foam that florists use for arrangements) with naturally occurring sphagnum moss, as floral foam often contains toxic ingredients such as formaldehyde and isn’t reusable.
Using locally-grown flowers is another way to boost the sustainability of the industry, says Rosie, and this also ensures they’re fresher for the customer. “I think it’s about starting the conversation and making people aware and attempting to make it the industry standard. People don’t realise how much waste goes into the florist industry.”
Starting a business in Auckland has been “scary and exhilarating”, but Rosie is thankful for the supportive community which has encouraged her along the way, passing on contacts and suppliers, and her network of florists. Her ultimate dream is to start a floristry business in Europe and live both in New Zealand and overseas, but for now she’s happy growing the business locally from her St Kevins Arcade and Ponsonby Central locations.
“Playing to our strengths has been key to our success the dreamy wild look is what we’re good at. If we started creating perfectly round little posies, we’d bomb.” She acknowledges the skill and knowledge of her team in ensuring the business has been a success so far, and says how lucky she is to have great people around her.
Coming up next for Rosie and her team is a jam-packed wedding season. And when she’s not absorbed in floristry, Rosie can be found cruising around town on her E-bike, meeting friends and visiting her mum in Nelson. She’s looking forward to enjoying a great Auckland summer. “On days like today, I can taste the sunshine!”