Melanie Stapleton, owner of Cecilia Fox floral studio and mother of two, starts her day at 3am. Renowned for blurring the boundaries between floral arrangements and sculptural art, Cecilia Fox is different from your local florist. Mel prefers her flowers grown without a lot of chemicals, and actively encourages sustainable practices within floristry. We meet Mel in her Melbourne based studio among a plethora of seasonal and locally grown blooms.

Story photographed by Tasha Tylee.

Kowtow Essay Melanie

What is your talent?

I’m really good at doing flowers but mostly I think I’m good at reading people and giving them what they really want, even when they are not really sure what that is.

What prompted your interest in floristry?

I really fell into working with flowers. I was young, pretty directionless and very shy. My Mum stood out the front of our local florist shop while I went in and asked for a holiday job and the rest is history. Twenty-four years later I’m still here and still in love with my job.

Kowtow Essay Melanie

Why is surrounding ourselves with flowers important?

Being surrounded by beauty is food for the soul enough, but surrounding yourself with beauty and nature is next level goodness.

What keeps you up at night?

My 2-year-old still wakes once or twice in the night for a cuddle and worrying that the flowers I’ve ordered won’t be available at market.

Kowtow Essay Melanie

What is the best part of your day?

Mostly it’s the mornings when I am woken up by my 2 year old and 4 year old cuddling me.

How do you express kindness everyday?

I am surrounded by an amazing group of sensitive, creative women so kindness is something I try to practice every day, whether that is thanking them for all their hard work, complementing their floral work or their awesome reverse parallel parking. Kindness to myself is definitely something I need to work on more. I’m incredibly hard on myself.

Kowtow Essay Melanie

What does sustainability mean to you?

When I think of sustainability I think of environmental sustainability firstly, minimising our waste and our footprint on our earth. More so, as my business grows, working on establishing a sustainable creative business. Preserving our creative longevity and replenishment, personally and in my business.

Kowtow Essay Melanie

How do you practice sustainability in floristry?

We do all the practical things; we are super hard core about separating all our waste. Composting all our green waste, recycle everything that it’s possible to recycle. There is a huge plastic and packaging issue in the floral industry, so we re use all the plastic sleeves and synthetic fluff to pack our arrangements. We only get takeaway coffee cups in emergency situations and preference local product over imported. We minimise our floral foam use (floral foam is super toxic and does not biodegrade). We talk about a more sustainable future for our industry and creating action around how to make that a reality.

Kowtow Essay Melanie

How do you see the future of flowers and how we live with them?

I think as our city’s grow and our lives becomes more urbanized we will always be looking for some kind of connection back to nature. Whether that is caring for house plants or having flowers in your work space or home.

What is something you are looking forward to?

I’m so looking forward to our family road trip holiday this winter, driving from Melbourne to Alice Springs. I’m very excited to be camping at Uluru and soaking up some desert magic.

Kowtow Essay Melanie

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