For the past 6 years Lee Cavender has been an essential part of the Pearsons School teaching team for our Certificate III students. Her infectious creativity and passion for all things nature are displayed through her artistic background in not only floristry but painting, fibre sculpture, basket weaving and jewellery making. Here is her story below…
Where did your passion for floristry begin? And how did it lead you in to teaching?
My passion for flowers and nature began when I was a young child. My father was a very keen gardener, so I grew up with a beautiful garden surrounded by roses, dahlias, hydrangeas, peonies, sweet peas, daffodils and jonquils, with 2 big lilac trees at the entrance to our house in England. I would spend hours in the garden picking flowers, making posies and daisy chains, collecting rose petals to make perfume, pressing flowers in books or creating miniature gardens in my Mum’s old washing up bowls. I would invite the neighbouring kids over to teach them my crafts. It was no surprise my passion for nature would lead me to floristry, which I have now been doing for the last 25 years. I have been very fortunate to have worked for high end, florists, Angie Summers, formerly of Summers floral and Susan Avery Weddings and Events, creating installations for A list clients, weddings and events. Both Angie and Susan were amazing florists and mentors with and incredible eye for detail. Gaining several years of floristry and business experience, led me to set up my own flower shop, followed by a successful home studio events business. It was a natural progression to take up teaching, with a desire to want to give something back, having had such a fulfilling profession in the industry.
What is it that you love about being a Certificate III trainer with PSF?
What I love most about teaching is meeting students from all walks of life, from different countries and cultures right around the globe. I love to share my skills, knowledge, creativity and experience with them. It lights me up to see students start the course as novices and then blossom into accomplished practising florists, it is very rewarding. There is so much talent and creativity amongst them which they in turn share with me.
What’s something our students wouldn’t know about you?
I will let you into 2 secrets. My very first job when I left school was painting porcelain figurines and plates for a company in England called Royal Worcester Porcelain Company. I did that for a year than left to go to art school in London. I was also a swimming teacher for 15 years, which I began whilst I was still at school.
What is your proudest moment as a trainer?
I have proud moments every time I teach, seeing students make their first posy in Hand Tied, their first arrangement in Base medium and especially their very first wired trail bouquet after only 4 weeks of wiring.
Why would you suggest floristry as a career for budding floral enthusiasts?
Most students will know that I like to put an inspirational quote on the whiteboard each day. My favourite of all being “Live the dream, live your life with passion and enthusiasm.” If your dream is to become a florist, well I must say that It is the most exciting career path you could choose. I feel immensely privileged to have made a career out of floristry. You will always be surrounded by beauty and nature, your work is creative, no two days are ever the same and there are so many opportunities you can take within the industry. My advice is to follow your passion and put your heart and soul into whatever you do.
To our budding florists and floral enthusiasts, do you have any care tips you’ve picked up along the way to share?
Apart from the essential care tips that we advise you on throughout the course, I would say to treat every flower as if it is the most precious thing in the world. Treat them with love and care.
Who do you look to for inspiration in the industry?
I love to see what the more cutting-edge florists from around the globe are creating and there are too many to list, so I will say I look for inspiration in art, nature and my garden, which is abundant with many varieties of succulents and foliage’s. I love to forage for unusual materials, seed pods, sticks, foliage’s etc, materials that you can’t find at the flower markets, and combine them into unique designs and arrangements. My advice is to try and find your own path, aspire to do something different and not simply follow what other florists are doing.