Five minutes (and five questions) with…Romy St Clair and Iona Mathieson, the duo behind Peckham-based florist SAGE Flowers.
(Image credit: Christian Cassiel)
Despite no formal floristry training, their colourful contemporary arrangements are beloved of the creative teams at such cult brands as Fenty, Glossier and Gucci, and they are also on a mission to challenge the pale and stale view of this profession. We take five minutes to find out more about the dynamic duo behind SAGE Flowers.
Astley Clarke: You both had different careers before starting Sage Flowers, what was it about floristry that attracted you both? It’s not a career usually associated with 20-something women.
Romy St Clair and Iona Mathieson: You'd be surprised, lots of 20-something women are becoming florists at the moment! We both wanted to do something a little more creative. Romy wanted to get away from her desk and Iona wanted to get away from restaurants. We both have a deep affinity to flowers as we both lived in the countryside at points in our childhood, and it kind of felt like a natural (but late) calling.
AC: How does your dynamic work and do you ever have disagreements about what flower should go where or colour pairings?
RSC/IM: We're lucky to have the best dynamic. We both have different strengths and weaknesses, which seems to work together really well; it's a very “ying and yang” pairing. I don't think we've ever had a disagreement about which flower should go where or colour pairings, or anything really! We're able to make an arrangement together in silence, building it together without talking about what should go where and it always turns out beautiful. We see each other or talk every day, so at this point we can pretty much read each other's minds.
(Image credit: Christian Cassiel)
AC: You aren’t just shaking up the aesthetics of the industry, you’ve been pushing for greater diversity as well. Do you think being a dynamic duo amplified your voice?
RSC/IM: 100% having each other by our sides made it easier. We were both thinking the same thing, and when we spoke about it together, we were like “yeah, this isn't right!”. If you're on your own and don't have someone to sound those thoughts out to, it can be really hard to know if you're right, or how to act on it. We proofread things the other one writes and double check each other's quotes. Just having that extra pair of eyes on everything really helps. It also means double the ideas and double the creativity! With FutureFlowers, our free floristry-training programme for people of colour, we share the teaching, so students get to hear two points of view, experience and knowledge!
AC: What is the characteristic you like most in the other?
RSC/IM: We both admire a lot in one another. We have equal drive and are equally impatient to get things done, but I think that sets us apart is that we care about each other. We listen to when the other one needs a break, a bit of downtime and genuinely want to make sure each other – and our employees – are at their best!
AC: Can you both pick your favourite Astley Clarke piece and tell us how you’d style it?
RSC/IM: We both love the mini locket. It's small enough to not be overpowering but large enough to contain something super sweet, like a mini photo or locket of hair, if you're old school! We both recently got new additions – Romy a puppy and Iona a baby – so being able to engrave the locket is a super-sweet way of keeping them close. We'd wear alongside our gold hoops and other chains of varying lengths.
Discover the Mini Biography Locket for yourself.