Inspiration

See how the duo behind Auckland florist Isadia made their vision come true

Florists Lydia Reusser and Isabel Johnston discovered doubling up made for singular success

Auckland florists Isabel Johnston and Lydia Reusser began working together at the end of 2020, after the first Covid-19 lockdown.

“Lydia approached me with the idea of partnering up after we had spent many hours freelancing together and discussing our dreams of what our ideal vision for a floristry business would look like,” says Isabel.

Having spent so many weekends working together on weddings and events, the pair decided that combining their talents on a joint venture could lead to something unique and exciting.

“I already had a handful of regular clients who I provided flowers for on a weekly basis and Lydia had weddings booked for the upcoming season,” says Isabel. “The partnership developed organically as our aesthetics were very aligned and we both had a strong desire to create something different from what is traditionally on offer in the floristry scene in Auckland.”

What is your shared vision for Isadia?
Isabel: We really wanted a business that allows us to create floral designs that speak true to our artistic vision. We have both worked really hard to encourage our customers and clients to enjoy the unexpected nature of flowers and see the beauty in the unusual. It has been extremely rewarding to stay true to our vision and be recognised.

When did you work out your roles and have they evolved over time?
Lydia: We both came to our business with certain strengths and interests and while we don’t have specific roles, we can complement each other by doing the jobs that we are drawn to and enjoy. For example, I will often write up a wedding quote and Isabel will create the mood board for the project. However, over time we have found we often need to do a little bit of everything and are good at jumping in when the other person needs a fresh perspective.

Is there a yin and yang dynamic going on?
Lydia: Less yin and yang, more complementary, although we feel it really depends on a day-to-day basis. Having a business partner allows us to have moments of inspiration or on the flip side, fatigue. During these moments we tend to lift each other or allow space for down time when we need it. At times we can also push each other and we certainly get through emails and admin at a faster rate.

There must be definite advantages to being a duo?
Isabel: Absolutely. Our business has three main areas of operation – regular interior clients, weddings/events and retail bouquets. We have a lot going on, so we are big on logistics and planning. It’s great to have two heads working on problem solving, figuring out ideas, and the best way to do things.

What about your personalities, similar or different?
Isabel: We are quite different, which works in our favour. Lydia is wonderfully pragmatic whereas I tend to get carried away with the creative vision.

And your floral styles?
Isabel: To begin with Lydia had a more naturalistic, garden aesthetic with a focus on wedding work while I leaned a bit more to the sculptural and unusual. Most of my work was bouquet and installation based. After working together we have learned a lot from one another, which is what gives Isadia its unique style.

What was your big break?
Isabel: Over the past year things just began evolving in such a way where we found ourselves working alongside some amazing clients, which in turn opened up further incredible opportunities for us. There have been moments when an inspiring brief has come in and we’ve looked across at each other and been so excited. It is extremely rewarding for us when we are approached for a job where they specifically want to work with us for our unique aesthetic, and trust us to bring an inspiring vision to life.

What’s been your biggest challenge?
The Covid disruptions continue to throw challenges our way. Every time there’s a community outbreak/lockdown we need to change plans. During these times we remind ourselves to remain kind and fair – and that we are in the business for the long haul. Currently our biggest challenge is the impact of Covid on the floristry industry – due to high demand and less availability, wholesale flower prices are running at an all-time high.

What’s the hardest part of running your own business?
Isabel: Working out boundaries and maintaining a healthy work/life balance. The most frustrating thing we hear is “I would love to be a florist, you just get to play with flowers all day”. The reality is that 85 percent is accounting, marketing, consulting, flower sourcing, delivery driving, bucket and vase cleaning, 5am early flower market buying and event planning, and then 15 percent flower arranging.

Does your work make you happy?
Lydia: Absolutely. It has its challenges but at the end of the day neither of us could imagine doing anything else. Floristry is definitely seeing some big changes around the world, with a more sustainable focus, which is encouraging. It is also (finally) being recognised as more of a respected art form and we are excited to be a part of the flourishing community.

Words by: Leanne Moore. Photography by: Kate Battersby.

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