INTERVIEW: How SAGE Flowers Became Fashion's Favorite Florist
We caught up with the founders as they gear up for the release of their first-ever book, ‘The Art of Starting.’
When SAGE‘s founders Iona Mathieson and Romy St Clair first met, it was through a chance encounter at a sweaty rave. At that moment, neither of them knew that they’d later set out to create one of the biggest floristry companies in the UK, one that would eventually be crafting hand-tied bouquets for the likes of LOEWE, Fenty Beauty and Glossier — but immediately one thing was clear: they had a shared vision.
Despite having no prior business experience, it didn’t take long for SAGE’s client list and customer base to bloom, and in just a few years of business, the brand has gone on to work with multiple major brands for events and custom bouquets. Now, Mathieson and St Clair are setting out to share their pearls of wisdom through the release of their first-ever book, The Art of Starting.
Aiming to offer a unique insight into the creative business world, the book aims to be a reliable manual for new business owners, filled with everything the founders wish they’d known when starting out. “We share knowledge with the aim of diversifying and decolonizing industries,” SAGE tells Hypebae. “It’s not about keeping how to be successful a secret from your peers, we’ve all gotta come up. We especially want to hold the door open for women and minority groups, so we hope this book helps that,” they continued.
Ahead of the book’s release, we caught up with SAGE’s founders to find out more about their journey into floristry, how lockdown helped to rebrand nature and what their plans are for the future.
Scroll down to read the full interview.
Give us a bit of background into SAGE Flowers, how did you get started?
We knew each other through raving, always saying hello to each other in sweaty clubs and parties. I bumped into Romy’s fiance and mentioned I was starting out in floristry. He mentioned Romy was too and we should have a meeting. We had one meeting and SAGE was born! We were totally aligned from the start on our vision and what we wanted. We borrowed £1k from a mate to buy some flowers and do our first pop-up, which we did in a Peckham car park, and now we’re here!
Post-lockdown, floristry appears to have had a real resurgence as an art form. What do you think has contributed to its rise?
In lockdown we all realised how much we need the outside, and the release we feel when we reconnect with the outdoors. We spent a lot of time going on walks when we weren’t allowed to socialise inside, and we think that really helped people see flowers in a different way — to actually look at them, see their beauty, interesting shapes, colours, smells and textures of them. There was already a rise in new wave floristry budding and this, paired with peoples increased screen time meaning people were finding and following those florists online, meant there was a boom which is still kind of continuing.
Since SAGE was founded, you’ve worked with the likes of Nike, Glossier and Fenty — who would you say is on your dream collaboration list, and why?
We’d both love to do a Jacquemus show, hundreds of flowers lining a runway in some dramatic landscape. We’re manifesting hard!
How do you typically go about designing bouquets for these brands? What can you tell us about your creative process?
We think about the brand identity, their current collection and what’s in season and ruminate on how we’d like to interpret and incorporate all those things into a SAGE style bouquet. We’re always trying new pairings of colour palette or flower types, but we do also have our go to’s that have become synonymous with the SAGE brand – anthuriums, roses, something a little different and interesting like a tall allium or an unusual tulip! We then head to our wholesalers website to select the exact flowers to bring everything together. They’re delivered to our studio in Peckham and created by our brilliant team.
SAGE is gearing up for the release of its first-ever book, The Art of Starting — how did the idea for the project come about?
We were thinking about how much knowledge we had gained in such a short time — really a baptism of fire — from starting SAGE with no prior experience of how to run a creative business. We were like ‘man, we wish someone had told us some of this stuff, we wish there was a manual’! And ding! The Art of Starting was born. Written to be a super practical manual that you can read through cover to cover, but also that you can pick up, flick to the chapter you need at that time, get the info you need and put it down until next time.
Why was it important for you to share your experience in the industry and advice for emerging businesses?
We’ve always been about sharing knowledge, it’s literally the meaning of our name. We’ve always believed if a door opens for you, you better keep it open for the next person to come through too. We share knowledge with the aim of diversifying and decolonizing industries. It’s not about keeping how to be successful a secret from your peers, we’ve all gotta come up. We especially want to hold the door open for women and minority groups, so we hope this book helps that.
Finally, what’s next for SAGE? What are some of the other goals?
At the beginning of the year we moved into our brilliant big new studio, so we’re doing renovations and making that home, we have plans for big parties and events. Otherwise, we want to branch out internationally and would love to take work in other countries, getting to practice in different cultures with different flowers. Culture and subculture plays a huge part in who we are and what we do, so we want to be able to see that through the lens of flowers in different parts of the world!
The Art of Starting is now available for purchase from the SAGE Flowers website.