Good Grace and Humour were the creative force behind the design and installation of beautiful hanging bouquets at our recent book launch. A relatively new business, their story is unique and a testament to the idea that two heads are often better than one! Please welcome Meghan Fletcher and Anna Lonsdale...
Tell us about your backgrounds, how you met and what spurred you to launch GG&H?
Meghan: I’ve spent most of my working life in various editorial positions at different book publishing companies in Melbourne. I really enjoyed creating beautiful books and being a part of the creative industry, but was disheartened by the publishing industry becoming depressed because of flagging book sales. I met Anna during my last editorial job. We both lived in the inner-west and drove to the outer-east, so we carpooled to work. We’d spend around two hours a day driving together – chatting and dreaming and drinking coffee. We soon realised that if we had each gone down a different career path, we’d probably be working with flowers. So we threw caution to the wind, and gave it a go.
Anna: I'd spent all of my professional career in the publishing industry – my most recent role as Executive Assistant supporting the dynamic CEO at the company where Megs and I met. I had this strong drive to be a corporate babe, but deep down I knew that I had more creative and wholesome aspirations! The irony is that although we had worked together for over two years before we started carpooling, I had very little to do with Megs and we didn't really know each other. I think she was a little surprised to discover I was actually this funk-loving hippie masquerading as a ‘girl friday’. I had always mucked around with flowers – experimenting andplaying – and I was looking at ways I could get into the industry and lead a more balanced life outside of an office. Once I learned Megs not only had the same passion but the same design aesthetic it was like,‘Well, the stars have aligned for a reason! We’d better give this a go!’. We launched the business at a backyard ‘Beer and Bouquets’ party which was kind of setting the tone forGG&H – eliminating the wank and breaking the traditional rules of floristry.
Did you juggle full-time work and the business in the beginning, and at what stage did you decide to give GG&H your full attention?
Meghan: I juggled full-time work and GG&H for three months before giving GG&H my full attention. I left publishing sooner than originally planned because I wanted to fully immerse myself in the new floral industry. I knew there was a lot to learn but, equally, I knew many of my skills were transferable. I’d spent nearly 10 years critiquing narrative, themes, design, colour and space, so I couldn’t wait to start working with this new, flexible and variable design element.
A: I still work part-time managing a Physiotherapy and Pilates clinic. This is a challenge because I am so conscious that Megs is handling a lot of the operational day-to-day business functions, while I'm there for the hands-on, creative aspects. I have a habit of going hard till I keel over and so Megs is very good at saying ‘Take a break, and don't feel guilty’. I guess that's my juggling act –not juggling the two jobs as such,but remembering to schedule in my own time. My team at the clinic are also incredibly supportive and understanding, so I am very lucky.
What are your favourite floral design projects to work on?
Meghan:I love a good wedding! Each wedding is unique with its own story, which makes each floral design interesting to work on. I really enjoy meeting the brides and collaborating with them to create a killer event. I absolutely love it when a bride is willing to take a risk and choose something extraordinary over the ordinary.
Anna: I get a real kick out of styling projects –trusting our instincts and being led by the colourful and seasonable bounty at the markets.
I do love working with wedding clients –developing and fine tuning a concept and then seeing it come to fruition on the big day.Somehow our weird and wonderful ideas pay off as envisaged!
I also enjoy the ongoing supply to cafes, probably because I love the idea of feeling part of the rhythm of the city. I like the banter and I do appreciate a good cup of Joe!
What skills do each of you bring to your business and what do you think is a key ingredient of going into business with someone?
Meghan: I’m steady and precise and Anna is quick and systemic. We work best when we work together because our skills and personalities complement each other.
Our balanced approach is entirely an accident, of course. When we threw caution to the wind earlier this year, we barely knew each other. Therefore, I think the key ingredient of going into business with someone is being able to laugh until you snort while you’re trapped in peak-hour traffic for a couple of hours together. It’s also about having supportive friends and family (particularly an amazing husband whois the Good, if Anna and I are the Grace and Humour!), who can laugh with you when you drag them along for the floral ride. As long as everyone is still laughing at the end of the day/week/month/year, GG&H will be fine.
Anna: We are an incredibly complementary duo! I move fast but I need to be tidy and organised in my set-up and routine. Megs is meticulous and focussed on the detail –she's definitely quality control.She could have chaos going on around her and her attention will be 100% on that bouquet she's working on! I'm more, ‘I need to change the music, the vibe’s not right for my method today’ ...Megs is,‘Do we have music playing?’
In terms of a ‘secret’ to going into business together, I would have to say we have learnt to be very intuitive. When things aren't gelling there is always a reason and we'll go, ‘Hang on, why are struggling? Oh, we haven't eaten or we haven't had a break!’. It has been a real blessing to be in a situation where we can support each other and be empathetic as friends as well as business partners. The unique thing is that we weren't twofriends who went into business –the friendship has developed from living in each other's pockets as we've grown the business! I also need to mention the incredible support from Megs’ husband, Paul, who has been a champion of GG&H since day one and has graciously let us work from their home, despite being woken up by my cackle in the early hours of the morning! I guess another secret would be that we are both pretty chipper in the morning –Paul might say annoyingly so –but we think we're pretty hilarious.
What are your goals for Good Grace and Humour in 2014?
Meghan: My goals for 2014 are to steadily increase the number of weddings and interesting events we’re involvedin, to meet and partner with motivated and talented people (partnering with the Creative Women’s Circle for a couple of events this year was so much fun!), to move into a new workspace and decorate it in a fabulous way (I’m a massive fan of interior design so I’m itching to get into a new blank space), and to juggle the demands of GG&H with those of becoming a new mum (the newest member of the GG&H team will obviously be a flower baby – girl or boy!).
Anna: We are so itching to move into a new workspace and that's got to happen in the first half of the year.
Following sustainable practices is very important to us, and I am interested in learning more about the process before we get our cut flowers from our suppliers and ensuring that those we buy from have a similar ethos. There are some incredible growers in Victoria and I want to connect with more of them. That collaborative aspect and feeling part of a community is very important to me –it's why we have found the Creative Women's Circle so incredible and why we choose to do things like support a radio show on PBS. For me that's what being in a creative industry is about. It's about supporting and giving high-fives to other creative cats out there who have at some point chosen to follow a less conventional path –that's where new ideas are born, and it's a lovely place to be!
Thanks for the insights, Anna and Megs! You can see more of their stunning floral work at their website or follow on Instagram @goodgraceandhumour.
All photos by Martina Gemmola