WHAT WE LOVE: Dark-green painted walls create a dramatic backdrop for colorful, natural flower displays at Florista, reminding us of a Dutch Master’s still life painting.
WHERE: Flower shop in Malmo, Sweden
WHO: Sophie Wiking, floral stylist and graphic designer.
Have you always wanted your own shop? When I first started floristry school, my aim was to open up my own business. There never was any other option. I’d had this dream of being a shopkeeper for a really long time, and I saw this as my opportunity to make it happen. And also because I saw the lack of flower shops with an eco-friendly and sustainable approach.
Why did you choose the name Florista? This one is a bit odd, cause I didn’t have to do a lot of thinking at all since the name Florista was originally found in a hashtag. I just saw #florista, which simply means florist in Spanish, and I just thought it sounded catchy and simple.
Did you have retail experience before opening Florista? Quite a few! I have worked in coffee shops, a small clothing store, a cheese shop, a bakery, a raw food shop, an interior design shop… probably others too but I’ll stop there.
Who designed Florista? I did. I knew I wanted this really dark and mysterious surrounding, partly because I knew it would not only stand out from most flower shops, but it would also make the flowers “pop” from the dark green walls. I’m also very inspired by Dutch golden age paintings, which usually have a very dark background and vases overflowing with flowers. So that’s the kind of feeling I went for. All of the interior in the shop (except for the shelves, a bench and three vases) was bought second hand. I just went to all kinds of vintage shops and flea markets and stocked up on boxes, chairs, buckets, vases, bottles, you name it. And since I wanted to create a shop with a sustainable approach I thought there was no better way than to shop second hand. That was probably the most fun part I had while opening up the shop. I also focused a lot on creating a quite rough feeling to the shop, because with the more contrast to the tenderness of the flowers, the more the flowers will attract attention. I also made the tiles for the counter myself, since I couldn’t find any that I liked. Nowadays I see all different kinds of green tiles everywhere since it’s become trendy, but back then I found them impossible to find. So I bought these rather cheap, plain white tiles, and experimented with spray paint and mineral turpentine to make it speckled, and I’m very happy with the result. The countertop in brass was made by a friend of a friend who’s a welder, and I just love that the more it ages the more beautiful it becomes. The neon sign, which has become almost like a signature feature for the shop, was actually an emergency solution. My best friend designed an amazing logo that was supposed to be on the window, but it turned out there were too many details to it so it wouldn’t work out. So like a week before I opened the shop I panicked and ordered a neon sign, and it actually turned out even better than the original idea.
Does Florista floral arrangements have a signature style? I think I’m mostly known for the natural, hand-gathered look of my bouquets. I like my bouquets to have a very effortless look, as if you’d have picked it yourself, and to take growth cues from nature to influence the design.
Where are Florista’s flowers from? The main reason I opened Florista was because I wanted to create a more sustainable flower shop. My idea was to run a shop with all organic produce, but that proved to be a bit more difficult than I had thought. However, if I can’t get them organic then at least I try to get all flowers and plants as locally grown as possible. These days I have my supplier Elna (@blomsterbonden) that grows the most amazing flowers I’ve ever seen, and it’s only twenty minutes away from the shop. I can’t wait for spring to start so I can have her flowers back in my shop again. The ideal would be to have them all year round, but since we live in Sweden that just won’t work. Then I also love to collect seasonal materials that grow nearby, like flowers, branches, ferns, seed pods and berries. But at this time of the year when nothing can be harvested here, I do my best to never buy flowers anywhere further than Holland or maybe Germany.
What makes Florista unique? I like to think of Florista as a backlash towards traditional flower shops. There’s a very contemporary and relaxed feel to it, but at the same time quite dramatic and intriguing. Also I like to have flowers and plants that you simply won’t find anywhere else. There’s a unique selection of flowers every week since I choose them depending on what mood I’m in or what I’m feeling inspired by at the moment.
Who are Florista’s customers? As in most flower shops, the majority of my customers are women. But an intern of mine said she was surprised to see so many men come into the shop, which I hadn’t really thought about until she mentioned it. That probably has a lot to do with the aesthetic of the shop, but I’m really happy to see more men buy flowers, not for their girlfriends or as gifts, but for themselves. And while most customers are living in the neighbourhood, some of them make the effort to come here from out of town or even all the way from Copenhagen to get their flowers, which I think is really sweet.
How has the internet impacted your business? I think Instagram is a wonderful advertising platform, and without it I don’t think many people would have found my shop. Thanks to Instagram I’ve received very much attention, not only in Malmö but internationally as well.
The Shopkeeper at Florista
Who inspires you? Pretty much anyone that is truly passionate about what they’re doing.
What inspires you? For the biggest part, I’m inspired by nature and always try to imitate it as much as possible. Someone once told me that I was the link between nature and peoples homes, which probably is one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever gotten. There is some truth to it though, as my intention with every bouquet is that I want to recreate a piece of a flowering field, or garden, or wooden glen, and give it to you in your hand. I don’t want to fix nature, I don’t want to take control of it or tame it, because nature in itself is perfection. But then I can also be inspired by anything from colour palettes, music, movies, paintings and other things that surround me.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. studied biodynamic gardening for some time, and then later on I moved on to graphic design. I later found that the perfect combination of the two was floristry! To still do physical work and get my hands dirty, and also be super creative.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? It’s definitely the money issue. After three years I still find it very hard to pay myself a salary. Malmö is a city where people usually aren’t very keen on spending a lot of money, and many small retailers are struggling because of it. I have reconsidered moving the shop to Copenhagen or Stockholm, but then I remind myself of all my lovely regulars and friends, and that I wouldn’t be able to find such good produce anywhere else.
What task do you like to delegate? Well, I only delegate tasks to myself since this is a one woman show.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? This is a tough lesson, and one that I’m still learning from, and it is to not take people’s negative comments personally. Which can be a bit tricky since I’ve really put my heart and soul into creating this shop. Being a shopkeeper has definitely made my skin a bit thicker, and given me the confidence to trust my own taste and not care too much about what other people think, but it’s not always easy. While ninety percent of my customers are super friendly, some people that come in can be downright mean. Once I even had one lady make me cry because she simply hated everything in the shop and whatever I tried to make for her, and she made some really nasty comments. Although experiences like that really hurt, I must try to take all the positive feedback I receive to heart, and not focus on the negatives.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? As one of my best friends once said, “you’ll never be good at anything that you don’t love.” So I’d say, make sure that this is something that you really love to do, cause you’re going to be doing it 24/7. Being self-employed means to live, breath and sleep what you’re working with.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? If I wasn’t a shopkeeper I’d probably open up a flower farm somewhere. It’s a dream I’ve had for a while now, foraging my own flowers and sell them in a barn or something. I need to work and create with flowers, there’s nothing else for me!
What is your perfect day off? A perfect day off for me would include taking a trip over to Copenhagen with my husband and my dog Farfar. I still haven’t been to Atelier September so I’d probably start off there. And then just walk around with a nice cup of coffee, taking some photos, eating good food, perhaps visit some friends. Maybe go to some art exhibition, or revisit Glyptoteket. Clearly there aren’t enough hours in a day!
Do you have five favorite shops? Grandpa in Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg, for the friendliest staff; Aesop, both for the aesthetics and their products; A Door, Copenhagen, super cute owner and beautiful hand picked items; Rågers Antik, Malmö, the antique shop next door to Florista. This is a real Malmö gem! If you’re only in Malmö for a visit this is probably where you’ll find your favourite souvenir. Kokoon, Copenhagen, women’s clothing store. If I could afford it I would buy every piece in here!
Which are your favorite neighborhood coffee shops and restaurant? Mineral – probably where you’ll find me if I’m not working, Bōru Bowl Bar – for supplying me with the best lunches, Kärleksgatan 3 – where I get my daily caffeine fix.
I wish I could… Run a flower shop in both Malmö and Stockholm. I love living in Malmö but I also have my family and several good friends in Stockholm, and I try to go visit them as often as possible, but I very often miss them. So my alternative answer would be, I wish I could clone myself.
On The Future of Retail
“What would the world be without flower shops? Although it’s convenient to make purchases online, nothing beats the feeling of stepping into a flower shop, or a hat maker or an antiquarian for example, to feel the atmosphere. It’s an experience to walk into small shops, and to get a personal service that the internet simply can’t provide. So I think, and sincerely hope, that small local businesses will still be appreciated and needed in the future.”
Kärleksgatan 4, 211 45 Malmö