Selfmade Experts: Ruby Barber on Mary Lennox

©Camille Blake

A love for beautiful things was ingrained in me from a young age. My mother was a gallerist and my father, a photographer. Our house was filled with contemporary art and beautiful objects. I always knew I wanted to do something creative but it wasn’t until after I finished high school that I even considered flowers as a career.  The more involved I became with nature the more I realized it was the right direction for me.
At first I was just going to the flower market to buy flowers for myself while I was studying Interior Architecture in Australia. Quite soon people started asking me to pick up flowers for them too. So I began dedicating Fridays to flowers by running a small delivery operation in Sydney. Eventually, these clients were sending bouquets to loved ones, getting married and having children – the business built itself from there. I visited my boyfriend in Berlin shortly after he moved here in 2013. I saw a place for what I was doing in the industry and pretty impulsively moved to Berlin myself to give it a go. Moving here was definitely the biggest obstacle. I had already been operating my own business at home and I really wanted to continue and refine what I was doing.
However, I didn’t really know anybody here, I didn’t speak any German and I had very little knowledge of the flower industry in Germany and Europe as a whole. It was terrifying. I could have given up so many times in the first year! There was a point when I was applying to work at other florists and for all sorts of other jobs. Nothing really came through. I actually worked a few shifts as a kitchen hand, but I knew the only way forward was to commit to making it work with flowers. I rented a studio and I focused all my energy on getting my work in front of the people I respected and eventually it paid off. This is actually what I would call my biggest success: I have a running business in a foreign country and this makes me proud. There are a bunch of special moments I like to look back to: I can’t decide between the first flower order, the first day in the studio, the first big job, the first time I worked with my team, the first international client, the first destination job… Then there’s the first time I met Celia, the manager of The Store, where I offer my flowers and plants, or the day the architect and furniture designer Sigurd Larsen delivered his copper work bench, specially made for me, and so many more after that: it’s been a crazy few years.

My favourite part is a happy client. My least favourite – perishable produce. People often expect a lot from flowers. Sometimes they forget that they’re natural things and they’re uncontrollable. Think about the whole process that the plant has been through to produce a flower – if you can be content that you get to enjoy that flower for its most beautiful days, no matter how many days that might be, then I think you are a true flower enthusiast.

Nature as a medium is endlessly challenging, inspiring and consuming. Mary Lennox is constantly changing and I think plants and flowers are becoming more and more relevant as a form of expression for, and within, other design industries. The projects this year have all been so different and far from what I would call ‘normal’ for a florist. I don’t think I ever want to run a typical flower shop. In five years I hope I can say that we are working across a number of creative mediums with plants and flowers as a central focus and constantly evolving.

Floral Impressions by Ruby Mary Lennox

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.