The Fabulous Farmer Florist
Allow us to introduce: Maja! You might have to hold on to something for this one cause she is such an inspiration and full of surprises: She is a strategist turned policewoman turned farmer florist. Yes you heard that right, pretty unconventional. Pretty awesome too. On top of that she's a new supermom of sweet little Maxine (that name tho 😍💯). We were so blown away when we first heard her story and wanted to find out more about this interesting lady and obviously share it with you. We just recently met her - though not in private yet, sad, - but through IG. Because of the pandemic, we were in desperate need of flowers (for our souls) and so our friend Vanessa recommended Maja. And boy are we glad she did. Now enjoy this interview and find out everything you need to know about slow flowers, ueppaaaa! 🌹🌺🌷🌸🌼🌻💐
For all the readers that don’t know you, please tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up? A brief resume of your career, what are you currently doing and where are you heading?
I grew up in Zurich (K9 forever!) and until a few years ago it was unthinkable for me to live outside my beloved city. But as everything is constantly evolving, I'm happiest now in the outskirts (the aircraft noise is just a rumor and now a fleeting memory anyways – thanks to Corona 😉). I was early on into Strategic Planning and started working as an intern at agencies after high school and during my communication studies. After a few years in advertising, I noticed that I lacked closeness to the people I tried to win over with my advertising strategies. What did I know about them, really? I can't remember the exact moment, but I think it was when the job ad for police officer popped up, when I decided to just give it a try. So that's what I did and in this process I've learned so much about myself, society itself and the people that make Zurich what it is.
I always knew though, that I would miss my original field sooner or later. It was sooner and so I switched back to communications – but with a backpack full of insight. To become a farmer florist was kind of a calling: I was in desperate need of flowers, but flowers that are seasonal, that smell, that tell of sun and rain and nature. I couldn't find them anywhere: 90 percent of all the flowers that are being sold come from countries like the Netherlands, Kenia and Ecuador and even Swiss flowers most often come from greenhouses, where almost always pesticides are used. So this is where I'm at now: Growing seasonal flowers without any pesticides in two gardens for weddings, events and everyone interested in slow flowers. I can't tell where exactly I'm heading and sometimes it's scary but also very beautiful and freeing at the same time.
So about two years ago, you decided to found Fleuraissance. When did you first start putting the wheels into motion for this project? How did you come up with the name?
I started with an idea, inspiration from Instagram (thanks for everything you do, @floretflower) and a piece of land, that my aunt entrusted to me. Since then I have learned a lot through trial and error but also through an online flower farmer workshop. The name Fleuraissance is composed of the French word flower (obvs) and renaissance, which stands for new growth, renewal and rebirth.
Can you walk us through the process of flower farming? How much work goes into this? What’s a typical day like for you?
Flower farming is everything from sourcing of seeds and bulbs, growing plants, care for them and cut them at their particular stage of harvesting. It really is a farmer's job that comes with dirty hands, long days and back pain at days. But all this in a good way: It is such a wonderful, rewarding and, in a way, a sincere job (and you get a tan while working on the field, yay!). Before a flower is ready to use in a bouquet or an arrangement, there are months of work that go into it. No day is like the other because in addition to growing the flowers I have to manage the orders, make bouquets, prepare for weddings, plan for the following seasons, update the website etc.!
You talk about this a lot on IG, but for people who don’t know: Why is it so important to buy local - even or especially with flowers? What is a misconception of the flower industry. What do you wish more people knew?
Conventional flowers are mostly grown in heated greenhouses or come from overseas, where the use of pesticides is key. Poor work conditions, the violation of health and safety rules (related to pesticides) are a normality for these predominantly female workers. Not to mention the long way and the huge CO2-footprint until the flowers stand in our vases. So far, there is no label which declares flowers as pesticide-free and these pesticides really are harmful, carcinogenic and the death sentence for bees and other insects!
But what does slow flowers mean, anyway? Most of the people understand that it means buying locally grown flowers. But it also means: I have made a conscious choice. Slow flowers are about the artisanal, anti mass-market approach to celebrations, festivities and floral gifts of love. And most of all, it reflects life lived in the slower lane, as Debra Prinzing, the founder of the slow flower movement in the US, has beautifully stated.
So: Don't be fooled by cheap marketing tricks and just a simple Swiss label if you're on the lookout for real slow flowers.
Gifting someone flowers is such a nice gesture. But flowers are so personal and not everyone has the same taste. What do you recommend to people who are unsure? Is there one thing you feel like people can never go wrong with?
I think there is no simple answer to this question. It's like everything in life: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is my credo, that what grows together, goes together. So when you choose slow flowers over conventional ones, you can choose colors of course, but it's mostly about scent, past (childhood) memories of blooming gardens, long forgotten flower varieties and a romantic, playful style just as nature has intended.
How do you make your bouquets so pretty? Is there a strategy or like 3 simple rules you can follow to make them look nice? Asking for a friend 😉
My advice is to combine focal flowers (main flower in a bouquet) with
spike- and disk-shaped flowers, airy elements and a few greens to balance it out. In my bouquets and arrangements every ingredient has its purpose: I never use greens just as a filler to make them look bigger. It is one thing to design a wedding bouquet or an arrangement and it is like tattoos nowadays: Choose the artist, which reflects your style the most. But it's a another if you "just" buy bouquets for your dinner table or your home office desk. I strongly encourage you to open the bouquet and arrange the flowers by yourself! It's is such a nice and meditative task and the flowers are thankful if they are not crammed together. Oh and vessels! It is so (!) important (!) to have a matching vase. And that's easier as it sounds: It can be as simple as an old jar and trimming the flowers to a corresponding length to create something lush and beautiful.
If you could make a bouquet for one person, dead or alive, who would it be and what kind of flowers would you use?
For anyone who appreciates nature and has (for whatever reason) no access to flowers or nature itself: It's the most rewarding thing to witness how flowers transport joy and to see the transformation on people's faces when they first see and smell these little treasures. Oh and I would create it with anything that nature has to offer in that particular season.
The gender pay gap is a huge topic in Switzerland at the moment. Just because women don’t talk about money as much as men it doesn’t mean they don’t understand finances as well as their male counterparts. Yet it still feels like women are more uncomfortable around this topic. Why do you think that is?
That's not something to be answered in short but I think it comes amongst other reasons from a long history of patriarchal structures in our society (like so many other things, too). And I don't mean this in an angry or frustrated way, it is what it is, our self-esteem, our roles. This has all grown over years and the responsibility lies in the hands of all of us – men and women – to change this and walk towards real equal rights. For all of us. And in all aspects of your lives.
Zodiac Sign: Cancer
Favourite Flower: NOT peonies (although they are gorgeous, of course)
Currently listening to: The new album For Their Love from Other Lives
How to unwind after a long day on the flower field: Singing as loud as humanly possible to ABBA songs in my car (only when I'm alone of course, it's too scary for others)
Best movie or book of all time is: Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Can't live without: Baby M. and R., my partner in crime
Last thing you've eaten: Tortellini, menu no 1 haha
Mornings or Evenings?: When I can sleep, mornings.
Most used emojis: 😊😍💗
Finish this sentence "Women should be more: themselves."