In the latest instalment of the Bianca Spender Portraits series, we speak with Bess Scott, Founder of Bess about her craft, personal style and family ties that bind her obsession with native Australian florals. Be transported on a journey in Bess’s brimming Paddington store and we delve into the story behind her bespoke dried installation in our new Double Bay boutique.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?
I grew up on an Australian Native wildflower farm at Mangrove Mountain and am the 5th generation in my family to be involved with flowers. I’m a florist with a fine arts degree & a store on William Street, Paddington. I love to start my day with a run-around Centennial Park and finish my day at one of Paddington’s lovely restaurants with good company. Being part of the Paddington community is special and I love creating beautiful arrangements for my clients.
YOU'VE GROWN UP AROUND NATIVE FLORALS. CAN YOU TELL US HOW THIS HAS IMPACTED AND INFLUENCED YOU IN YOUR OWN JOURNEY?
Being at the flower markets and on the farm are some of my first memories. My father and grandfather are pioneers in breeding and growing native flowers and I have idolised their obsession. I love being able to use them in the shop and introduce my clients to their beauty.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO CONTINUE YOUR FAMILY'S CRAFT THROUGH YOUR OWN LENS AND VOICE?
In the 70s and 80s, my Grandpa and father were leaders in introducing Australian native wildflowers to the Sydney flower markets, inspiring many florists to start using them. They continue to introduce new varieties to the market each year, which keeps things interesting!
I’m hugely passionate about Australian native flowers. When I opened the shop, I would work at the markets on Saturday mornings with my Grandpa. There I was able to meet his long-term customers, and friends and learn about his journey. Being involved in flowers now means I’m the 5th generation in flowers, and that makes me very proud.
YOU'VE PARTNERED WITH BIANCA SPENDER A LOT! CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH THE SYNERGIES BETWEEN THE BRANDS?
I love how Bianca is very true and authentic to her aesthetic and her brand. She is considered in her choice of fabric and style and doesn’t tend to follow trends, and I’d like to think that I’m a little like that in my business. I also love that when Bianca visits the shop she often spies the really interesting pieces that other people might overlook – a piece of driftwood or a beautiful dried branch perhaps. That’s totally my kind of person!
YOU CREATED A SCULPTURAL, SUSPENDED INSTALLATION FOR OUR DOUBLE BAY STORE. CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH THE CREATIVE CONCEPT & WHY SUSTAINABILITY WAS FACTORED IN?
I wanted to create a really organic-style installation for the shop, using recycled rusted fencing wire as a base and incorporating a contrast of chunky Australian native flowers with some more delicate dried flowers to create something sculptural and textured, but also light and layered. The effect instore with the beautiful Bianca Spender clothes is really warm and inviting. When I was thinking about the concept for the store, I focused on the type of flowers Bianca would choose when she’s in the shop. I know she likes interesting textures and a raw Australian look and so I worked with her to try and create a visually beautiful and sculptural installation.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PIECES FROM THE COLLECTION, AND WHY?
I loved the selection of pieces that were chosen for me to wear in the shop for the shoot. The fabrics are just beautiful and the fit was so comfortable and flattering. If I really had to choose, the blue woollen suit would be my top pick!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR STUDIO/SHOP FRONT?
I love that our shop front is a constant evolution. It changes all day every day, starting out full to the brim in the morning and by the end of the day, it’s often bare, ready to start again the next day. Our window is a nice taste of what’s in season and in-store from day to day.
HOW DOES THE AUSTRALIAN LANDSCAPE INFLUENCE YOUR AESTHETIC?
I love the fact that Australian native flowers are so unique and diverse to match the incredible Australian landscape. We have flowers from all over Australia including my Dad’s farm on the NSW Central Coast – some are chunky and sculptural while others are fine and delicate, depending on where they’ve been grown. Lots of our customers haven’t seen a lot of these flowers before so it’s such a privilege to be able to share them with everyone.
DOES WHAT YOU DO AS A FLORIST INFLUENCE WHAT YOU WEAR DAILY?
Yes definitely! Floristry is not a glamorous job, and I get so dirty in the shop! I’m always carrying big bundles of messy wet flowers and I’m often up a ladder, so I wear a lot of black and dark colours and lots of loose pants. I find that dressing well when meeting with a client gives me confidence when presenting my ideas.
WHAT FLORALS DO YOU LOVE IN YOUR OWN HOME, AND DO YOU HAVE ANY STYLING TIPS FOR US?
I love to take a little mix bunch of leftovers home with me from the shop which is often a very unexpected mix of things that I end up loving. I would recommend always trying something new and experimenting with different flowers and textures, you never know what your new favourite flower might be! It’s also great to have a few vase shapes and sizes at home.