Her alarm goes off at 3:30am and she’s out at the flower markets by 5am...
It’s not exactly your traditional 9 to 5 job but it’s all in the day’s work for Sydney florist Myra Perez from My Violet. For the last 15 years, she has spent her days surrounded by heavenly blooms and is now one of Australia’s most in demand floral artists. Behind the scenes, there’s a lot of hard work and passion that goes into her beautiful floral displays. Photographer Grace Alyssa Kyo got up early to follow her around the markets while she was prepping for Tiffany & Co’s annual Thanksgiving Day lunch last November – one of the most glamorous events of the year. Working to a brief of “luxe, fresh, white, indulgent Thanksgiving”, her tabletop was a magical masse of flowers. Here’s how it all came together. Photography: Grace Alyssa Kyo | Go to www.myviolet.com.au
My alarm goes off and I struggle every time to drag myself out of bed. I love sleep… I guess it’s because I don’t get enough of it! A quick hot shower is the only way I can wake up, then I’ll throw on my daily attire in the dark careful not to wake my household. Black on black and my faithful RM Williams boots – it the classic florist uniform. I don’t have coffee yet, just a glass of water and I’m good to go. Usually I grab my coffee from one of the cafes at the markets. The café’s out there are epic and the coffee is Italian and strong. Most days I do the run on my own unless it’s a huge job in which case I’ll take my senior florist along for the ride.
Up the roller doors go! By this time I’ve already created my list and who’s my first stop to source what I need. This is all done from the front seat of my van. Once upon a time I could rock up at 4.45am find a car spot and stroll in and shop, but nowadays with our industry being so popular, it’s game on. Buyers start lining up from 3.30am and there’s an excited crowd eagerly anticipating the opening of the roller doors at every entry point (of which there are about eight). Having been in the flower game for over 15 years now, I’ve built strong relationships with various growers and no longer stress so much about missing out on the season’s best. They know what I often buy and know what goodness I love, so nine times out of 10 it’s already set aside for me. I guess just some of the perks of having worked in the industry for so long. It’s like an extended family at markets. Today’s brief is a “luxe, fresh, white, indulgent Thanksgiving” for Tiffany & Co. This is my second year of creating this event, and as I work closely with Tiffany & Co. regularly I know the look and feel I need to achieve for the brand. I decide to use a classic selection; masses of white peonies, white phalaenopsis orchids (a personal favourite), exotic leaves, fragrant white garden roses and trailing lime asparagus. This time of year is a favourite of mine as all the most delicious blooms are available at once and if there’s ever a time where I can use them all, today’s the day.
I aim to leave the markets by 6:30am and beat the Sydney traffic back to my studio. Once back, we unload everything from my van, box by box, cutting each stem and into putting them into water. The process takes a couple of hours, then it’s about getting the combination of blooms just right and separating them into sections of areas; table runner and hedge.
I’ll grab a bite to eat, usually a yoghurt and fruit or muesli. I’m trying very hard to eat better. Key word ‘trying’ – it’s VERY hard.
Back in the studio I don’t sit down! The rest of my day is about getting daily orders out the door and being organised for tomorrow’s event. We are always working against the clock. By 5pm if I haven’t crashed from exhaustion, I will try and do some admin and paperwork.
The day kicks off at 7am (a sleep in woohoo!). I’ll have some fruit and yoghurt at home, grab a coffee from my fave cafe next door and pack my van with all of the flowers, my tool box and some water. My aim is to be outside the venue (Rockpool Bar and Grill in Sydney ) by 9am for a rock star car spot. Unloading in peak city traffic can be tricky so you want to make sure you get a great park so that it’s easy to run back and fourth. I also try and avoid getting parking fines!
Once inside the venue it’s go! go! go! We are working amongst restaurant staff and the events team who are setting up. The lunch kicks off at 12pm sharp and I want to be out by 11.30am, as I’m not a fan of being seen by the guests. I like to be in and out. My vision for today is ‘indulge’ and I’m achieving this by using an insane amount of flowers which will run down middle of the table. Everything is kept really unstructured and en masse. I want guests to feel a sense of luxury and we’re using marble vases from Marble Basics in three different sizes. Both my senior florist Sophie and I have completed the floral runner and for some privacy we created a wild hedge using the same flowers in the runner. I work best when I’m left to my own creation, even though I know what I want to use flower wise, I’m totally free styling how it’s going to look as I go. The entire process takes us two hours to install and then we’re out the door before anyone arrives.
When I finish a job, my favourite thing is seeing it without anyone around… it’s just the flowers, the decor and the smaller details. There are no guests yet. When the reaction is oooooh and ahhhhh and OMG’s from your client, it’s the best feeling to see the smile across their face, but it’s not till the pack down when guests are still hovering that see you that you get the full effect. They’ve had the pleasure of staring at them all afternoon and when they ask if they can take some home, you know what you did was a hit. Sometimes the guests who ask to take the flowers home are editors of the magazines I love to buy or people whose style I greatly admire… that’s when I do secret happy dance inside… high five!
Myra in a flash:
Coffee or tea: Soy mocha always, best of both worlds. Typical breakfast: Large soy mocha. On your bedside table you’ll find: iPhone, rings and my Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour® Cream. Exercise of choice: I think my job is enough. Seriously. You can’t catch me at market. Book you’re currently reading: I live off magazines these days. No time to read a book. Heels or flats: Kicks. Sunglasses: I have a slight obsession with sunglasses. Celine, Karen Walker, Le Specs and my latest purchase Dior. Dream travel destination: I want to go back to El Salvador with my whole family. Websites you regularly visit: Vogue.com – fashion news, articles, glam; GrittyPretty.com – makeup and tips; Daily Mail – comical reading; Watchseriesgo.to – to catch up on all my shows. Current favourite flowers: Chocolate Cosmos, Black Scabiosa and Sacred Lotus.