We sat down with Chris, creative mastermind behind Merchant and Green, the delightful new florist around the corner from HydroSkin HQ. Like us, Chris loves engaging and collaborating with the local community, citing a desire for a more interpersonal work space as part of the inspiration behind Merchant and Green. It was wonderful to chat to Chris and discover how these collaborative relationships inspire and shape his creativity and business.
Chris’s journey into floristry followed a unique and diverse creative path - from cake design and event management to styling and visual merchandising, he has an intriguing and expansive creative portfolio.
“My career evolved like that, it has spontaneously moved in different directions. But it all fits together.”
Wedding and corporate event planning gave Chris the opportunity to push the creative boundaries of floral design, with large scale, spectacular displays. But it was his move into the freelance world that eventually inspired Merchant and Green. Chris was working with new businesses to help them evolve and establish themselves, until he realised that’s where he wanted to be.
“I thought, ‘You know what, it’s time to do this for myself. I decided I wanted to create my own little business and get back to working with what I loved most - flowers, plants and people.”
Chris said it just clicked one day. While freelancing allowed for interesting creative briefs, it also limited his engagement with people and meant only working on a few large-scale projects per year.
“Now at Merchant and Green I have this incredible location and platform to indulge in all the things that I love - I really feed off that energy.”
Chris has lived in the local area since the 90s, so Surry Hills seemed like the logical place to start the business.
“It’s quite surprising, it’s a quiet little area, but it’s quietly busy. The locals are quite creative and knowledgeable too, traditional flowers don’t tend to sell, but more striking natives and richer colours do.”
This creative inclination means working with customers is collaborative, and the diversity of this work is what Chris finds so satisfying about Merchant and Green.
“It’s starting to become a hub. Working together is really fulfilling, even if it’s just a small project. You can have a beautiful shop, and people can come in and buy things, but without that collaboration it can seem a little dead.”
Merchant and Green has built relationships with the local school, cafes, crafts people and just started running a series of workshops, which are taking off! They want to establish more than a florist, to foster an environment that supports creatives and gives them a platform.
“Interesting local makers and craftspeople are bringing things in and we’re acting as a little space for them to grow. I’ve seen a real resurgence in my creativity, instead of it being about work and money, it’s so much more.”
“You have these little moments where the flowers just catch you.”
While Merchant and Green flourishes with external stimulus, the flowers and plants remain a core source of inspiration that evolves with time. For Chris, flowers influence him in an overwhelmingly seasonal and immediate way.
The unique aspect of this creative industry lies in the effect weather and time has on materials and inspiration. The seasonal nature of floristry means intriguing new possibilities develop as the year progresses.
With so many external influences, Chris still maintains a signature style – unstructured, natural and textured; flowers in full bloom with dynamic levels and rich colours. However, this will continue to progress and is tweaked to suit specific clients or contexts.
“When a florist first opens, it’s a great opportunity to set your own style. With corporate and wedding work it was much more rigid. So it’s exciting to see what Merchant and Green will become. I know it will change over time. And it won’t just be me, the customers and staff are a great inspiration.”
So give Chris a visit, and be a part of the ongoing collaboration!
Merchant and Green, 674 Bourke Street, Redfern.