FOCUS ON: Tanya Shaw, Oh Flora

Oh Flora Retreat - Byron Bay

Last month, we were lucky enough to host Tanya Shaw at The Bower for one of her sell-out Oh Flora Workshop Retreats! Needless to say, our social feed was blooming with an incredible array of floral arrangements and event inspiration. 

How did you first get your start in floral design and event planning? Did one come before the other?  

Floral design is where it all started!  A love of florals in high school sparked my interest but it wasn't until my early 20's that I figured out it was possible to have a career as a floral designer (unfortunately, there can be a bit of a lack of respect for the trade as a "serious" career choice). Over the years and after many requests from our couples, we slowly introduced the service of designing the entire event concept from visual details to experience.

Where did you first get the idea to turn your business into a workshop retreat? Was it something that formed slowly over time or did you dive straight into the deep end? 

We've been hosting destination workshops for a few years now. They began after a few years in the industry building Oh Flora and learning from many mistakes and triumphs. I've always loved sharing my knowledge and the unique opportunity to learn in intimate groups. After lots of enquiries for hosting workshops, I started off small with 1/2 day workshops in Sydney and they have slowly grown into 4 day, all-inclusive experiences, all over the world!

This time we chose to host at The Bower as we've stayed previously and loved the entire experience, the location is fabulous and the pool is just dreamy! I knew it would be the perfect location to give our attendees a relaxed and luxurious experience. The staff are friendly and helpful, and I mean, everyone loves daily housekeeping right?! 

All over the world?! Where else have you run these workshops? 

We've hosted workshops and retreats in Mexico City, Tuscany, California, Paris, New Zealand and all over Australia. 

We saw so many fun things happening over the days you were here! What were the highlights from your perspective? 

Hosting at The Bower was a big highlight for us and takes some of the stress away of making sure things look and feel beautiful and thoughtful for our attendees... this is so important to us! And of course, our dinner party is always something we all look forward to - the styling, the food, the vino and the good times with new friends!

Can you give us a quick rundown of the activities? 

We started with champagne... always a great way to break the ice! Then we headed off to The Farm for a private tour and sunset harvest of Poppy & Fern flower field and welcome dinner at Three Blue Ducks.

Day two and three include lots of flower arranging - bouquets, large scale installations, table centrepieces - business and design discussions and photography and styling sessions. 

We styled and hosted our dinner party on our final night together and enjoyed the most delicious food by the amazing Bruno of Terra Catering and head chef at The Hut (lucky... we know!). 

To say our farewells, we headed to Clarkes Beach for a beautiful brunch picnic and mimosas, set up by the amazing Picnic Portal. 

Who is the retreat designed for? Can anyone sign up? 

Yes! Anyone can sign up. We often have attendees come along simply for inspiration, creative restoration and simply enjoying a unique experience. 

There is a lot of the retreat that is focused specifically on starting and running a small creative business, partially floral related - however, much of this can be transitioned into any creative field of work.

What are your top do's and don'ts when it comes to DIY flower arrangements? 

- Try to buy locally grown flowers where possible. There are generally far fewer chemicals used on local flowers than imported varieties. There's also an ethical point of view to consider with imported v's local flowers and you're supporting Australian businesses by sourcing locally.

- Be sure to place your flowers into clean, freshwater immediately after cutting the stems. Don't delay. Change the water every couple of days. 

- When choosing your flowers, look for a variety in shapes and textures rather than flowers that all look similar. This creates interest and movement throughout an arrangement.   

- Cut your stems at different lengths to create depth

- Research sustainable floral design methods, such as using chicken wire rather than using plastic, or chemical-filled floral foam. It's still relatively unknown that that green mushy stuff you see in plastic-lined boxes at the supermarket is horrible for the environment and it's best to avoid it.

When you're off the clock what are your favourite places to check out in Byron? 

I often travel with my husband (who's also on Team Oh Flora for events)... thankfully we have the same interests: mostly eating and swimming! We love to go for walks along Belongil Beach and up to the lighthouse, followed by a swim at The Pass. 

Raes is a beautiful place for a prawn sandwich and cocktail by the sea or Treehouse for a more casual vibe.

We also love exploring the hinterland surrounding Byron, stopping in at some of the best restaurants around, many focusing on sustainable and local products. Our favourites include The Hut, Frida's Field and The Eltham Hotel.

Host / Design | @ohflorastudio
Photography | @lostinlove_photography 
Vessels | @ohflorastore 
Ribbons | @songbidsilk
Dress | @letobridal
Rentals | @frankandjoy
Dinner Party Catering | @terracatering_byronbay
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