SAGE are the Peckham-based duo reimagining floristry as we know it. Bored by the local offering, Romy and Iona are inspired by unusual flowers, foliage and form, forging a new path in the industry by moving away from the traditional arrangements and rules of classic floristry. They’re also advocates for young female entrepreneurship, diversifying and decolonising floristry, whilst maintaining a keen focus on sustainability. The duo use their platform to progress these topics, engaging in public speaking and workshop events as well as operating from their store in Peckham and online.
From styling and supplying FENTY parties, to creating installation pieces for music videos, Romy and Iona have enjoyed a slew of exciting collaborations since starting SAGE in June 2018. We caught up with Romy to discuss how they got started, finding inspiration in culture, and who they’re waiting by the phone for a call from.
How did you get started with floristry and SAGE?
We started in June 2018 and did jobs and pop-ups around our other work until we opened the shop in March 2019. Iona went full time and I (Romy) juggled a 4-day-a-week job until March 2020. I went full time when the pandemic hit!
SAGE is known for the unique arrangements and brand aesthetic in floristry – how would you describe the defining features of your work?
I think most people would say bold colours, mixed textures and heights, unusual combinations of flowers.
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Since starting up, you’ve enjoyed some amazing collabs with brands and people, including Joy Crookes in an amazing floral piece recently. Do you have a favourite project you’ve worked on?
We get asked this a lot, and it’s always a challenge to pick out a stand out moment. This year the Mercedes Benz shoot we worked on was pretty wild! We started with creating three distinct concepts, specific to the DNA of each car, and built and shot them in two days! Working on a Fenty party back in December 2019 will always be one of our highs!
From that, who would be your dream person or brand to collaborate with and why?
We’re waiting for a call from Jacquemus and Comme des Garçons. Both brands are really different, we love the way Simon creates a runway and no one does a campaign quite like Comme.
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It’s great and refreshing to see this new ‘wave’ of floristry, beyond the classic bouquets and flowers. You mention that your work is at the intersection of floristry, design and subculture – can you talk a bit about this?
We both came from other industries and are for the most part self-taught, so we were never going to fit into the traditional world of floristry or set design. Our interests and references come from broader spheres of the art we like, the brands we grew up wearing (or wanting to wear!) and the music we go out to dance to. These are our biggest influences, and we try to bring it into our designs, ethos and partnerships!
What are your main points of inspiration?
We’re inspired by a lot of things – living in Peckham is a great place to start, the characters you meet, the shops and stands you walk past daily. Travel is another really great way to get inspired – be that NYC or Marrakech, it’s great to absorb different lifestyles, designs, foods, and approaches to working. Finally we look quite widely at the design world – a graphic you might have really liked on a club flyer or a bit of architecture or furniture.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to start out in floristry but maybe without an idea of how to go about it?
Find your favourite florists on IG – study what it is you like about them, as well as your other favourite brands in other industries. Watch some YouTube videos on the basics, or attend a couple classes if you can afford it. Reach out to companies for work experiences, be keen and hardworking and you’ll go far!
With their intersectional approach to creation, the girls at SAGE have already made major impacts in the fashion, art, music and floral industries to name a few. In their work, they push beyond the parameters of traditional flower-arranging, utilising their personal backgrounds, interests and interpreting the world around them to produce unique bouquets and progress a diversifying movement.