It was a crisp morning in early July, the restrictions had been eased and it felt almost like a normal day. I had just moved houses within Brunswick addressing one of COVID’s many temper tantrums.
I needed to get new things because I moved into an unfurnished apartment and I made sure to have all the basic amenities but it didn’t feel like home yet. I went to Barkly Square to see what could make my house feel more like home. I wondered what does “feeling like home” even mean? I wasn’t sure but a nice stroll down Sydney Road might answer that question.
My walk was very enjoyable, but the definition of home didn’t really occupy my thoughts until I left Barkly Square realising I had only got a set of tea towels and a mass-produced pottery toucan. I recalled Tyler Durden saying “the things you own, end up owning you”. Ok, if that’s true I want to find something other than a pottery-beak-head to own me. It didn’t take me that long to see a place that gave me the inspiration I was looking for, Babylon Flowers.
I decided I wanted a plant for my bathroom, the least homely-looking place in the apartment.
- Bathroom? the girl working at Babylon asked. A “hoya” is the best option for you! I’ll write it down for you to Google how to take care of it or you can always give us a call 🙂
A good shopping experience is always rewarding and the ambiance of the shop made me feel curious to find out more about this cute business.
I did my research and contacted Babylon Flowers’ owners, Sarah and Kylie. The next lines capture what I learned during a joyful video call over a glass of wine.
Back in 2013, Sydney Road was, as it is today, a lively combination of multiculturality materialised in all sorts of businesses. Coffee shops, pizza bars, pubs, op shops, banks, bakeries, and dresses – lots of wedding dresses.
By then, Sarah and Kylie were two friends working in Strathmore. Playing with plants and flowers’ colours, textures, and patterns to express and capture emotions was their passion. They learned that a florist is more than just a person who sells and arranges cut flowers. A florist starts as an apprentice that over the years, gains a unique skill-set through practise.
The flexibility of learning through practise requires a florist to be open to constantly learn from victories and defeats on the ground. A florist acquires interior design, event planning, and people skills. Florists learn from their peers, pick up things from others, and learn that every flower and event is different and plants are seasonal thus constant adaptation is beautifully inevitable.
Sarah and Kylie were not only florists, they were also entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity. Dresses – lots of wedding dresses – and no flower shops on Sydney Road? This is Melbourne’s bridal precinct and brides aren’t brides without flowers, they thought. Their sensibility and creative spirit drove them to make the decision of starting their own venture on Sydney Road not far from Victoria Street. It was a very nice spot in Brunswick for Babylon Flowers.
After establishing themselves in the community and building a good reputation, Sarah and Kylie felt it was time to find a more suitable place for a venture named after one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Luck was on their side, and a former bridal shop called Anna Campbell left the spot where Babylon Flowers is currently located at number 238 Sydney Road.
This quest has been the source of insights about nature, business, community, and life itself. Today, they know that cats can be great shop hosts (Poppy taught them this valuable lesson!), and that their favourite flower can vary as much as Melbourne’s weather. They have learned that friendship comes first when running a business with your mate and that communication is the key to stand out and thrive.
Brunswick has not only been home to Babylon Flowers, but it has also been its teacher and its residents have become everyday trainees. In their own words: “Brunswick’s customers value beauty, nature, and the resonance that flowers bring to a room, venue, or event”.
As for many local businesses in Brunswick, COVID has been challenging. Kylie and Sarah thank their clients and community members for their support during these times.
Thank you Babylon Flowers for being one of the modern wonders of Sydney Road and for being the florists who help define what a home is in Brunswick and Melbourne.
We invite you to explore more about Babylon Flowers and buy online;