Shop Small, Shop Local at Pollon Flowers
A leading Sydney florist started his craft almost by accident, writes Elizabeth Meryment. Presented in conjunction with American Express.
Nicholas Minton-Connell talks about flowers the way some people talk about their children.
“I can’t wait for the peonies to come in,” he enthuses. “They’re so short lived. And then we have the hydrangeas, I love hydrangeas. I am obsessed with flowers. They ignite you. For me they have always been a passion.”
All this for a man who is not a classically trained florist, and who stumbled into a career as a florist after buying a retail outlet that sold flowers.
That was more than 16 years ago, when Minton-Connell returned from a high-powered job in Hong Kong, where he was a creative director for Dior. His speciality had been window dressing, a dynamic craft that required expertise and artistry with often huge and dramatic bunches.
So when he retuned to Australia and bought a shop in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane that he intended to turn into a homewares store, it made sense to keep the connection with the florist that had previously occupied the space. And so Pollon Flowers was born.
“I didn’t have any formal training,” Minton-Connell says. “So the woman who sold me the store, who was a florist, said she would teach me the key components of floristry and that’s how I learned the basics.
“A lot of florists come from a very mechanical way of doing things. They have the basics and the fundamentals but for me, everyone has their own artistry, their own artistic style and that’s what I have been able to bring to it.”
From those humble beginnings, Minton-Connell has risen to be one of Australia’s leading men of flowers, running both the Melbourne outfit, which he still retains, and his newer Sydney store, located on Paddington’s Oxford Street. He spends half the week in each city, attending clients who range from leading corporates, law firms and creative powerhouses such as Chanel and Dior, to local customers who simply pop into the shop for a bunch of roses.
He says the secret to longevity in business is to be devoted to the craft and put in the hours to prove it.
“I am up at the markets buying flowers at 5am, working in the dark even when it’s cold,” he says. “It’s never that cold in Sydney. It’s bloody cold at the markets in Melbourne though.
“People say to me how have you done this for 20 years? The answer is you have to be passionate about it. For me it’s all about the flowers. I really do not like people or trust people who do not like flowers.”
72 Oxford St Paddington