Merrin Firth is the founder of The Florist Quarter, an accessible, dedicated job board and directory for industry and consumers to connect with local Australian Florists.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my floristry career 13 years ago when I was living on Vancouver Island in Canada. I would volunteer on my days off at a florist downtown in return for basic skills and a very questionable portfolio.
When I moved back home to Sydney, I hit the pavement with said questionable portfolio and was lucky enough to start as a junior at a beautiful florist in the CBD, where I stayed and learnt the trade.
I have run my wedding and events floristry business for the last 8 years, which obviously came to a screeching halt in March of 2020. Weddings and events being cancelled and postponed gave me time and space for a new business idea to evolve.
Anticipating the craziness of two years’ worth of weddings being packed into 2022 made me realise that I was going to need to find staff and freelancers to help me juggle multiple events – but it’s not always that simple to find staff.
So, I spent the lockdowns last year developing a platform for florists to be able to book freelancers and post job ads. The idea evolved to include a directory for businesses as well, and The Florist Quarter was born.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Depending on the day – it often starts with a 4am alarm and a trip to the flower markets to buy the ingredients for whichever wedding or event I have that week.
Then back to my home-based studio to unpack the van and process the flowers. My dog is usually staring me down by that time so we go to the dog park, I come home and either do more work with the flowers or come inside and start work on The Florist Quarter – oh and I am also in the final year of my degree in Social Science so I try and fit that in as well.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
The Florist Quarter is definitely something I can do from anywhere which is amazing. My weddings and events are a little more rigid, but I have tried to be better in recent years of not overbooking myself and practicing the art of saying “no”.
Working for yourself, it’s so easy to think you have to say yes to every job that comes your way. When COVID hit, I realised what it was like to feel rested, so I am much more conscious of not overextending myself now to the point of burnout.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Just that, recognising when I have too much on my plate and not being afraid to ask for help. I have a great support system who I can lean on and I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do with their support behind me.
Floristry itself is a very physical job, so in my down time I try to keep my body happy and healthy, and that definitely includes lazy beach days or binging a show or two!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have practised yoga for 10 years and used to be quite dedicated attending 4 classes a week. Again, when COVID hit all the classes were cancelled and I actually haven’t gone back! I practice at home, when my dog lets me or if I feel like my body needs it.
But to be honest, that go-go mentality that I had before 2020 has just fallen away. I still have a very full schedule running two businesses and completing my degree, so some things were bound to take a hit and I don’t feel guilty!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
My partner and I love the podcast Stuff You Should Know. We actually fall asleep to it most nights. The hosts do a deep dive into random topics in such a relaxed, interesting way. I’d highly recommend it!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
This might sound a bit sales-y but I can’t live without my new platform. I’m not the most technological person so developing The Florist Quarter was far out of left field for me and quite a challenge.
I knew that I wanted it to be easy and user friendly because that’s what I look for in an app or platform. And since its launch, I have been able to book staff in for my wedding business so easily, it’s more useful than I ever could have anticipated.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would love to hear what my dad would say. I saw him work so hard his whole life and now he’s living the dream, living on his boat with my Mum, fully embracing his retirement. Would he change anything? Or is working so hard how he achieved the ultimate work-life balance of retirement at 55?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I guess I would say that it’s ok to say no to jobs. Maybe everyone already knows that, but it took me years to learn that “no” was an option. It’s been an incredibly freeing prospect. Not that I am not grateful for my incredible clients, I definitely am, but work should only be a part of your life, not your entire life!
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