2021 marks the fourth edition of Esse’s OFFCUTS project, and this year we are honoured to be able extend the conversation of reducing waste and upcycling leftover materials to other businesses who share the same ethos. This year, we share our offcuts and end of roll fabrics with these businesses to utilise and upcycle for a variety of projects. One of the businesses is Charlotte Puxley Flowers, a beautiful floristry studio in Singapore.
Charlotte Puxley Flowers is the namesake and brain child of Charlotte Puxley who started her business 7 years ago. Merging British sensibilities with tropical blooms, Charlotte Puxley’s stunning floral arrangements and botanical installations, bring the rustic and delicate English countryside to our tropical doorstep.
With intentions to start a florist in London, Charlotte’s then-boyfriend’s (now husband) move to Singapore brought her to our sunny shores. We sat down with Charlotte to learn more about her journey in floristry and the ethos behind her floristry work.
Hi Charlotte, we’re intrigued about your journey through floristry – tell us what led you to start Charlotte Puxley flowers.
So I thought that I was always going to work in fashion for quite a long time. I worked for Anya Hindmarch in New York, writing press releases amongst other things. It wasn’t for me, so I came back to London.
Then, I tried a company called Jane Packer - I did one evening of classes and I loved it! And I always knew that I was going to do flowers. That was in 2005, almost 12 years ago. Subsequently, I just learnt on the job. I never did an official degree or anything like that. I worked for a company called Scarlet & Violet for a long time in London and yeah, they kind of taught me floristry. During that time, I also spent a lot of time just sweeping floors and begging people for Saturday jobs all that sort of thing!
Was flowers something you did on the side initially?
So I actually was a receptionist for an estate agent during the day. I think I lasted three months (laughs), but I also became an E-bay master and managed to make enough money to sustain myself selling and buying different things off E-bay. It took me a couple of months, but after that I just did flowers full time.
Charlotte wears the Multi-Wrap Wrap Top in Nautical Blue
What a journey that must have been! How would you describe your floristry style and what inspires your work?
Anything in nature, I would say often inspires us. Anything with an unusual colour tone, texture, form, all sorts of things. It can be the way that something is put together, or a silhouette. Like so often that sort of stuff inspires us. It really depends. Sometimes the quality of fabrics or different materials coming together, like ribbons… it really varies, but yeah - it’s like getting dressed - like putting different colours together.
Why do you love your job?
Did I say I loved it? (laughs) No, I’m joking. I think it’s because everything dies, which is so wonderful because it means you have to bring something new and creative to it every morning. It’s like a constant process rather than a one-time thing which I find so much more rewarding than just doing something once and then living with it. I also think that it’s such a team endeavour - it’s definitely something you can’t do on your own.
You’re always bouncing ideas off each other and there will always be someone who will bring something new to the table. And again, it’s all about reflecting what is going on through the city or all these sorts of things… And really adapting or building products to fit around things. Essentially we are building our flowers to fit around people’s lives.
You’ve summed it up very poetically – the cycle of dying and renewal.
At the heart of floristry is the love for working with nature and hence, making beautiful floral arrangements. However, it is also an industry that directly impacts flowers in the way flowers are grown and sourced. How do you ensure that your floral arrangements are created in a sustainable and ethical way?
Oh that’s a hot topic! It really is something that I think needs to be an industry initiative as much as anything else, and it’s something you have to decide as a company to be proactive about. But mostly, it’s also doing what you can within your reach. For example, we have actively decided not to use any floral foam, and we have been repurposing materials for installations and things like that.
It’s also offering the market products that are sustainable so people have a choice for more sustainable options. We are working on coming up with our own gardens and reworking supply chains as much as we can to be more responsible. It’s really important and it really impacts the way people think about our flowers, that’s for sure.
That makes sense. Are you planning to have your own flower gardens?
That would be the dream. Let’s see if we can make it into a reality.
Lots of exciting project in the pipeline for you and your team! Tell us more about the current project you’re working on with Mandala club and how you are incorporating Esse’s offcuts and end of roll fabrics.
This was very much a project where they wanted to have impact, with different fun things going on. But it was also about making sure that it was navigated in an environmentally sustainable way. So between us, we came up with an idea of using large oversized boxes that we already had in the studio or just repurposing (these boxes) from various different areas, and then reaching out to various companies such as Esse. We also reached out to TAFF (Textile and Fashion Federation) and again, they gave us lots of different fabrics, so it’s about being able to be reuse these items over and over again, or upcycling that makes a huge difference and not just using endless baubles.
It was really fun to explore and rethink Christmas without trying to use the essence of what is ‘Christmassy’. While I think that’s still important, it is also important to reinterpret Christmas and reflecting the situation of the planet.
From left to right: Cheyenne wears the Tuxedo Sleeveless Shirt and Organic Cotton Wide Leg Pants, Charlotte wears the Multi-Way Wrap Top and Cropped Pants.
What are some of your plans for the future and how are you planning to incorporate more sustainability into your work?
Oh good question! For now, I’m chipping away at the garden and I feel like if we could bring that into our world, that would make a huge difference for us as florists.
I also think that it’s about bringing awareness to it, having these conversations and finding out how different brands are doing things. I’m sure it’s the same for you guys - the more you talk about it, the more you learn. I see that sort of progress and it’s a really new thing where people are more open to saying, ‘I don’t have the answer, how are you doing it?’
So your plans are ever-evolving as you have more conversations with others in the industry.
Yes! And being more confident about not knowing everything or the exact plans for the future. I’m sure there will always be something we’re cooking up.
Amanda wears the Maxi Dress with Detachable Belt in Vanilla Mist
One last question, what are some tips for conditioning flowers and extending its lifespan?
Buy from suppliers that you know really do good fresh flowers. For example, Tiong Bahru wet market, is fantastic because they sell by the stem and they have a really quick, high turnover, they are restocking every day. And re-strip the stems, recut them (the flowers), so they are fresh. Also, changing the water regularly is really important.
I heard that putting aspirin or vodka in the water helps. Does that actually work?
VODKA - that’s a nice one! One for me, one for you! Realistically, we use Milton. That is like a water sterilisation tablet that you can buy online. Basically any water sterilisation tablet is good for keeping any bacteria out of the water.
Or come to one of our workshops and we’ll tell you about it! For us, it’s always about educating people about how to look after flowers. I often feel like flowers in Singapore get such a bad rep but they can actually do quite well if you just know how to look after the reasonably well, not perfectly, because I definitely don’t do that!
Special thanks to Charlotte and the team for having us at the studio, and Monica Lie for the photographs.