In conversation

In conversation

Connecting with likeminded women who share the same values as us here at Max is key in ensuring we support the community of women that we’re lucky to be part of. Through our time of change, we’ve always said our focus was on people and the planet, with this new year we’re delving even deeper into just that.

We were lucky enough to meet Joanna from My Fathers Florist, an incredible local maker based out in Piha, Auckland. With a passion for sustainable floristry and advocating for better treatment of the place we call home, we caught up with Joanna to find out more about her journey and how she got to where she is today.

Tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to where you are now?

I feel like my home has always been in Piha, it just took me twenty-ish years to find it! I grew up wanting to change the world, to work for a non-profit organisation, to be on the front line. So I spent some time in Papua New Guinea but my heart broke, being such an emotional and empathetic person the injustice and reality of poverty was aching for me, I knew I would have to help in a different way. I moved to Piha three years ago in an attempt to rescue my mental health, what I didn’t realise is that I would fall deeply in love with the land and the ocean here and that it would foster my creativity and provide me with passion and purpose. I originally started my dried flower business to both grieve and to cultivate and gift joy. Ever since my love affair with the ocean, however, it’s become about creating in a way that is kind to the land and its ocean.

We’ve been on a journey of change to focus on our relationships with people and the planet. You’re passionate about sustainable floristry, could you share a bit more about this?

Absolutely. Firstly I think it is important to gently declare that not every creative is in the privileged position of making sustainability an immediate priority. Do not misunderstand me I think that cultivating sustainable practices, especially as a business is everyone’s responsibility, but I also believe that stigmatising those who are simply trying to get by is not helpful in the slightest.

Sustainable floristry for me is a type of floristry that is good for the land, its oceans and its people. The reality of the flower industry can be pretty grim. A mass amount of single-use plastic and bleached, sprayed and chemically altered dried flowers are the most prominent issues I see every day. I studied sustainable design at university and came across a design principle that has since shaped the way I create. It is called ‘cradle to cradle’ - cradle to cradle can be defined as the design and production of products in such a way that at the end of their life, they can be truly recycled (upcycled), imitating nature’s cycle with everything either recycled or returned to the earth, gosh I hope I haven’t lost you!

Using sustainable packaging, growing flowers, foraging flowers, understanding a smidge of horticulture and soil depletion, eliminating plastics and harmful chemicals from production, education, honesty, making mistakes and learning from them, choosing what is right over what is easy, community, humility, second-hand shopping, and kindness, are all important principles of sustainable floristry. I believe in honesty and although I take steps every single day to move my business in this direction My Fathers Florist does not operate completely within such a system. It does, however, try so gosh darn hard to do so.

There is a beautiful bunch of happy humans who have created a social media account called, @sustainablefloristry - they help me feel a little less alone in this passion to create using healthy practices, they are also a great educational tool for the conscious flower consumer.

How does your relationship to sustainability inform the rest of your lifestyle?

It slows me down, in the best way possible. I believe that hurry is incompatible with joy and it is my humble experience that goodness and creating sustainably is not a fast process. I believe that the posture and position of your heart will significantly shape the quality of your life. We live in a world of noise and hurry. I deeply believe that hurry is the thief of joy, of being present and in the moment. When I create from a place other than health, the end result is never as wonderful, as deep or as glorious as when I create from a soft and confident corner. The same can be said for my personal life. I cannot listen, love or do relationships well from a place of busy, from chaos or noise.

What does creating with your hands mean to you?

To slow down and create from a place of happy and healthy.

Can you tell us a bit about your personal style, and how it is influenced by your lifestyle?

A modern day Pocahontas with a dash of kinfolk is how I would describe my personal style, with a bucket or two of shells and a handful of black sand.

Throughout my teenage years and now in my twenties, I have always longed to have a style, a manner, an approach that reflects my lifestyle and heart. I am not one to stand out from the crowd but I do think there's class and elegance in knowing yourself. I know myself in the seashells scattered around my home, by backless linens and wool jumpers, surf maps, flower books, exposed wood and giant sunflowers. I am smitten, head over heels with the land here. Everything about it influences my style.

Lastly, what inspires you each day?

Gosh, I am going to be honest here as I know someone reading this will appreciate it. Lately, not a lot has inspired me. If I am wholehearted in answering this question, I would have to say that I am finding it hard to feel inspired. A member of my community pointed out to me that inspiration is a feeling and feelings are controlled by our thoughts. So, although I cannot tell you right now what inspires me each day, I can tell you what I am grateful for. I am grateful for my home and the way the sun thinks it lives here. I am grateful for other women who are pursuing greatness, and for the village and community around me. I am grateful for surfing and skating and I am grateful that I get to wake up every day and try.

Lastly, I am grateful for you, the individuals who read this for although I do not know your laughter it is welcome here.

Photography by

Holly Burgess

As told to

Courtenay Lewis

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