When Jodie McGregor first opened the doors to her Annandale florist shop in 1999 she would have been thrilled to have just one customer drop by.
But Jodie’s uncanny eye for arrangement, and matching flowers with the occasion, proved an instant and overwhelming hit.
She sold out her Sydney store, Jodie McGregor’s Flowers, on that first auspicious day, and there has been a constant flow of couriers and wide-eyed loyal fans through her colourful doors ever since.
Although Jodie prefers to let the blooms and bouquets do all the talking for her, she was understandably thrilled to win the first Florist of the Year prize in the 2016 Fresh Awards run by the Sydney Markets.
Popular broadcaster Chris Bath caught up with the humble superstar at the Sydney Markets in Flemington, Sydney, to find out what the coveted prize means to her – and glean some of the secrets to her incredible success.
Here is a transcript from the full interview.
Chris Bath: Sydney’s newest awards are the Fresh Awards, and they recognise everything that’s wonderful about fresh produce. From fruits and vegetables to flowers, even bloggers who write about them. It’s a huge innovation by the Sydney Markets.
With me now is the winner of the inaugural Florist of the Year Award – Jodie McGregor.
Flower displays at Jodie McGregor’s Flower store to brighten your day
Now Jodie, how does it feel to win? It’s a big deal!
Jodie McGregor: Yeah, it is a big deal for us. First of all it’s a lovely surprise, and it’s great recognition of what we’re doing in our store every day, showcasing all the flowers that we get from the Sydney Markets.
Chris Bath: So what’s the average time you arrive at the Sydney Markets, which has been servicing Sydney for two centuries? And what’s your day like?
Jodie McGregor: Well, it’s very quick. We’re here before the gates open at 5am, so we’re ready to go. It’s pretty organised chaos. You have an idea in your mind about what you’d like to get, and the things you need to get, but once you arrive; it’s a matter of what’s available, and what’s really lovely. You try to get the best of what you can.
Chris Bath: So it’s a lot like the Boxing Day sales where people elbow you out of the way in a hurry, saying: “I want those roses!”
Award-winning Jodie McGregor Flowers’ store in Annandale, Sydney
Jodie McGregor: Yeah, well we do have the benefit of speaking with the growers. What we like and after doing it for nearly twenty years, most growers keep things aside for us. They know what we love and, so we do get that sort of nice special treatment with some things but there is a lot of things you just want to see. You want to see what’s really good. One week something is really beautiful quality, the next week it’s different. It is the nature of the beast, just choosing what’s nice on the day, not getting too stressed about it.
Chris Bath: So the growers, you said, keep things aside for you, the special things they know that you love? So what do you love?
Jodie McGregor: I love everything, every season has a different element. Like I love combinations (of flowers). If something is really lovely, and soft, and elegant, paired with something really nice inhaled and with texture. It’s kind of contrasting. I just love what’s quality and what’s in season.
Jodie McGregor Flowers in Sydney wins the 2016 Fresh Awards Florist of The Year
Chris Bath: If I want to buy some flowers, how do you tell that they are fresh and good quality?
Jodie MCGregor: My advice would be to look at the stems of the flowers. Usually the stems will age very quickly. If it’s not fresh, it might be a little bit brown, or the leaves might be a little bit tatty.
Chris Bath: What do you do to keep your flowers lasting as long as they can?
Jodie MCGregor: Make sure they’re in the right spot. They need to be in a cool spot where there is no direct sunlight. It’s really ideal if you can cut the stems before they are put into water. That just breaks the edge on the stem so they can drink. Also, they’re not going to do well if they are in dirty water. Every two days, change the water and recut each stem so it’s open. That should make them last as well as possible.
Chris Bath: Why use a florist?
Jodie MCGregor: I would suggest that most of florists have their flowers stored in ideal conditions, hopefully air conditioned indoors. Also, florists have the best interest of the flowers in mind and do not sell other products. They are specialised in that area. They can give you good advices, and hopefully if you do use one florist, you can build-up a rapport and get some really great advice on how to make your flowers look really good.
Chris Bath: So what’s your favourite flower, if you had to pick one?
Jodie MCGregor: If I had to pick one, it would be gardenias.
Chris Bath: Why?
Jodie McGregor: Just memories… I remember them growing up, just picking them with my mum. They smell beautiful. Yeah, I think they are definitely my favourite.
Chris Bath: Because they’re so little!
Jodie McGregor: I know!
Chris Bath: I thought it would be a big arrangement with sparkly things.
Jodie McGregor: No, I particularly love flowers that bring up memories for me so, there is a long list of them …
Chris Bath: Jodie McGregor congratulations to you and your team. You’ve been doing floristry for what, eighteen years? Well deserved!
Jodie McGregor: Thank you, Chris.
Chris Bath: That’s our Florist Of The Year at Sydney Markets for the 2016 Fresh Awards!
WINNERS FROM THE SYDNEY MARKETS’ 2016 FRESH AWARDS
Best Small Business
Figtree Greengrocer, Lane Cove West NSW
Best Medium Business
Ziggy’s Fresh, Fyshwick ACT
Best Large Business
Fruitezy Marketplace, Miranda NSW
Farmer Feld’s Fresh Produce, Goulburn NSW
Parisi’s Food Hall, Rose Bay NSW
Knowledge in Action
Martelli’s Fruit Market, Cherrybrook NSW
FLORIST AWARDS Service Excellence
Bella Floral Boutique, Morisset NSW
The Flower Room, Newtown NSW
Knowledge in Action
Native Botanical, Young NSW
PRODUCE GROWER OF THE YEAR
Goldenfield Growers, Wallacia NSW
FLOWER GROWER OF THE YEAR
S & P Dominello, Peats Ridge NSW
Best Greengrocer Story
Anna Johnston, shenANNAgans
Best Florist Story
Lisa Tilse, We Are Scout
This is a sponsored post by Sydney Markets. All opinions expressed by the author are authentic and written in their own words.