with Bonnie of Bonnie Blooms
I first met Bonnie when she invited me to take part in a sustainable wedding shoot she was organising (which you can read more about here), and I have been admiring her beautiful work ever since. She is a gorgeous soul who creates whimsical, wild, INCREDIBLE floral magic and spreads love and joy whilst doing so. She is also a big advocate for sustainable floristry and only uses locally grown flowers, which I love.
Here Bonnie talks about her unexpected journey to becoming a florist, how it is something so far from what she imagined she would do with her life, and the purpose and joy she continues to find amongst the flowers.
“The last thing I ever thought I’d do”
Do you know what I never thought I’d be doing? Sitting down to write about my business! Until a few years ago, I’d often say emphatically, ‘Ugh, I would NEVER start a business, I don’t want to be tied down here for the rest of my life!’ (Slightly dramatic, I know). It wasn’t at all that I didn’t love where I was living (I love it with an ever-growing affection), but my heart was set on other things. Everything I was doing was towards my dream of working in developing countries one day.
I studied two degrees (Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies and a Master of International Public Health), spent 6 months volunteering for a community development organisation in Uganda, visited various other countries in the developing world, started a social enterprise (Jolly Good Events) to raise funds for projects I cared about, and applied for a lot of jobs, which never opened up to me (unfortunately I didn’t have 15 years experience under my belt, or super powers).
It took me a very long time to move beyond the disappointment of not being able to crack into the world I thought would reveal my entire life’s purpose. Every job I worked (fruit and veg store, nanny, emergency care worker, roustabout, freelance writer), I would struggle to find satisfaction in, as all I wanted was to feel like I was ‘changing the world’, particularly in the area of poverty relief.
“I blame it on the wildflowers of Scotland”
The funny fact that I find myself running a business, a million miles from the path I thought I wanted to be on, I blame almost entirely on the wildflowers of Scotland. I think my fascination with flowers has been around since I was just a small fry, but it really came to the surface during a summer spent in Scotland, working on sheep farms. On my
days off, I’d go for walks and gather wildflowers as I went, making them into little posies. Discovering those little splashes of colour along roadsides and in amongst grasses and trees filled me with giddy excitement.
When I returned to Australia, I kept up my new found love of walking and foraging. Around Christmas 2018, I shared a few photos of my creations on Facebook, and asked if anyone would be interested in buying a bunch. Lo and behold, people were interested… and the business sort of naturally unfolded from there (I say that as if the ‘business side of things’ has been easy…easy my hat!).
The name Bonnie Blooms came almost immediately when I decided I needed a name for my budding business. I always love a bit of alliteration, and it was a perfect nod to dear Scotland, where my flower journey really began. There, ‘bonnie’ is frequently used as an adjective to describe something beautiful – ‘Ay, what a bonnie day!’.
“What flowers have taught me”
I have to say, by the time I started my business, I was admittedly still a little jaded at my ‘foiled’ life plans. I’m somebody who is hugely motivated by my desire to ‘make a difference’ in the world. And I think perhaps I held on for a long time to a very narrow definition of what that should
look like. I thought it meant finding solutions to poverty, feeding the hungry, working in developing communities, running women’s empowerment programs, fundraising for worthy causes…etc.
But as I got deeper and deeper into the world of flowers, their gentle, unashamed beauty led me to a new understanding of purpose and meaning. I realised the places that fill us with the most joy, the things that light us up, are often the places where our greatest purpose and fulfilment lies. And when we step into these places, we can make a difference in the world! (Does that sound cheesy? Reminds me of my 16-year-old, starry-eyed self!). But we truly can. The best difference we could possibly make. A difference nobody else on earth could replicate.
“Flowers light me up”
They fill me with childlike wonder – over and over. When I’m working with them, I feel completely ‘me’. I find my expression and voice through them. I find a way I can bring love, hope, comfort and joy to others. I’m not fighting poverty or saving lives. But I’ve come to see that my work with flowers still
matters. And in fact, that it’s of no lesser value than the noble ventures I once dreamt up for myself.
“The power of beauty”
Part of what I believe matters so much about what I do, is that flowers are beautiful, and beauty is powerful. And the world really, really needs beauty. Now more than ever. Beauty reminds us to hope. When we’re bombarded with bad news stories and endless things that could fill us with fear and anxiety, beauty is a gentle whisper telling us to pause. Breath. Be present. Lean into all the good, lovely things in the world. And the more you look for beauty, the more you find it.
I am constantly in awe of beauty I might never have stopped to notice before. My eyes are getting better and better at finding every unexpected pocket of beauty, each one a precious gift of hope and joy. I love studying the colours, shapes and textures of trees, plants, flowers and landscapes. It’s
this untamed, perfectly imperfect, exuberant, abundant, life-giving beauty in nature that inspires my designs, as well as the beauty and personality of those I create for.
My hope is that anyone who receives or experiences my flowers would be touched by the power of beauty, and that they would feel seen, known and loved.
All photos here are Bonnie’s, with the exception of those credited.