Annie O Botanical Stylist

  She’s been at the top of the flora and botanicals game for over 20 years, and now Annie O is moving her talents out of the city to the coast.

Are you from the Matakana Coast?

My husband, Mark, and I moved to Warkworth in June. We’ve bought this amazing barn on two hectares. We adore it. I have two sons, but they are grown and don’t live with us. Jordan is 25 and teaching English in Japan and Elliot is 16 and living in Christchurch with his dad. My stepdaughter Bella, Mark’s daughter, is 14 and lives in Cambridge. She comes to stay every second weekend and loves it. She’s met met local friends, goes horse riding, and has also learned it’s a great place to learn to drive.

How did you become a botanical stylist?

I’ve been a florist since I was 14, and I opened the Daisy Chain Flower Lounge, my first store, when I was 22. It was pretty rock ‘n roll - we had what we called a flower menu. We had all the top accounts in town, and we did soooo many weddings. This morphed into Pick Me, a store I had in Takapuna. I have had a total of eight businesses.

I decided to move out of retail and spent 10 years doing top Auckland weddings, but I saw flowers becoming more and more organic. Anyone could do them. So I began specialising in botanicals and plant installations. Stephen Marr and The Department Store came onboard fairly quickly. I’ve run workshops out of Studio 46 in Takapuna and also do some with Leanne Yare at Collected in Mt Eden. I teach classes on terrarium making, Christmas wreaths, and floral design.

What inspires your designs?

I like to do ‘different’ things. The fresher and bolder it is, the better. It’s important to keep things fresh and moving with your designs – if you get stale it is time to move on or take a break. I love to keep re-inventing the wheel.

Where do you see your future?

I’ve been self-employed for 28 years and I’d really love to help other women in business, especially creatives. To that end I’m working on becoming a business coach/counselor/mentor. I’ve been getting some training from a life coach and from Philip Gould. Philip runs coaching for beauty and hair salons and he’s an amazingly gifted human.

It’s hard for businesswomen to juggle everything - kids, husbands, social media and everything that goes with it! I’d like to help them get on top of things. I’d also like to move most of the business up here. I’ll still keep on at The Department Store and do specific things but we’d both really like to be more centred up here.

Mark is a builder who specialises in renovations, so we’re working on getting him based up here also. It takes time. We’re planning our new house on the property so that will be a great showcase for his work.

What do you love most about where we live?

We love the tranquility, and the fact that it’s simple, raw and basic. There’s nothing too polished about this area and people are friendly. I walked into the Council offices the other day and this lady actually welcomed me to the area. People are kind. I was working somewhere in the city the other day, there were two or three teams, and they wouldn’t even say hello to me. That sort of invisibility in the city upsets me deeply.