Tina Heffer is the fabulous power-house behind Te Awamutu local florist and giftware store The Birdcage. Beyond the blooms, her store offers a highly curated edit of swoon-worthy homewares, accessories and jewellery: Saben sits pretty in store among brands like Zoe & Morgan, La Tribe and Beau Coops.
As one of our fastest growing retailers, it is such a treat to connect with Tina on the Primavera spring image project during which we also snapped her portrait (all be it reluctantly, though we aren’t sure why – she is SUCH a babe!!!) for the Women in Business series. We chat about all things style, flowers, business and her move to online.
What drew you to the Mae handbag?
I love the texture of Mae, and I am obsessed with cross-body handbags. Being hands free is so important to me, I'm always on the run and I'm always trying to carry too many things, so having a bag that goes on and doesn't slide off is key. Also, Mae is the perfect size for just what you need, and the compartments make it easy to pop things into and to find them later.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is whatever I love and what’s comfortable - most of the time ;) I live in leather pants, ripped denim & quite a bit of lace. I like mixing really dressy pieces with casual.
On your summer wish-list?
On my summer wish list is another pair of beaten up denim ksubi shorts, a killer pair of sunnies & at least a day or two at the beach! I don't get there as often as I'd like to.
Does your personal style overflow into your edit for the store, or do you have much broader way of selecting your pieces?
Absolutely, I'm a bit eclectic. I love styling, and mixing different pieces, whether that be for jewellery, bags, or for home. When choosing pieces for the store, I know if I love it, I can sell it, but I always have in mind someone who I know would also love it too. When you are buying, we see so much, you need to have a very selective eye, not everything is suitable.
It was so much fun to work together on our spring image project. What does the move into spring season mean for you and your business?
Spring for us in the Waikato means calving season! So the farmers are always pretty busy, but it’s also a season that everyone is ready for. We've all had enough of winter and I love seeing all the spring flowers come through, a bit of colour and fragrance, and then we start getting geared up for the Christmas trade.
Your Primavera arrangement was inspired by new style, Cami in the dreamiest shade of linen. The colours fit so perfectly, tell us more:
Cami in linen is all about toning it down, I wanted to use a colour palette that was complimentary, this shade of linen, to me is for the women who like to dress easy and breezy, loose layers, soft colours, open button shirts and flowing fabrics. The quick sand roses I used, I just love how they open and their shade is to die for, one of my favs.
“I am a bit of a whatever-takes-me-at-the-time kind of girl, the tones were perfect to pair with Cami and the succulents & gum add unexpected interest and texture."
When working with customers on floral styling do you prefer a tight brief or to be given free-reign?
I totally prefer free-reign, I think telling your florist exactly what you want is like telling an artist how you want your piece of art to look. When doing a wedding, I like to meet the bride, find out who she is, what her style and personality are, then go from there. A colour palette is a start and then just let me go. The flower market is a fickle place, sometimes you just can't get what you had hoped for so you need to think on the spot and have your eyes open to something else equally, or even better.
Wedding season is upon us, any advice you could give brides-to-be about their flowers?
Leave it to the experts, choose a florist you like, and get along with. Don't be disappointed if you couldn't get something, trust what we think would look sensational. And embrace what’s in season, it's in season for a reason!! And stop looking at bloody Pinterest!!!! Look at what your locals do, we can't replicate something from America, we are in NZ.
Tell us a bit about The Birdcage, how did you start, what led you to grow from flowers into gift, fashion and homewares?
The Birdcage came from me not always being able to get what I needed or wanted locally and wanting to do my own thing. I couldn't decide on one thing so I did them all, minus clothing (which I also love but we already have amazing clothing stores in town). I also wanted to be able to make flowers available for everyone, amazing quality, and fresh. Not always made up, but ready for your home, flowers has been a huge part of my business and grew so quickly, more than I ever thought or hoped. Gifts gradually grew, along with our jewellery, bags & footwear. Our little space is well used!
Congratulations on the opening of you online store! We bet your out-of-town customers are stoked to be able to see your curation of goodies. What has been the hardest part of this journey to date?
Finally online wohoo!!! The hardest part of this is managing stock levels, and for me ensuring that people get a similar experience online as they do instore. eg. receiving a beautifully wrapped parcel, just like we do in-store.
And what part is the most exciting / rewarding?
Getting a sale! We aren't massive online yet, but I know that will just keep growing for sure. Online is the new way people are shopping, gotta keep moving with the times. I also hope that bricks and mortar will still reign though, there is nothing like shopping in an actual shop.
‘Busy’ has become such a standardised part of society… BUT we are seeing such a conscious shift to switch off, re-connect, implement mindfulness strategies into everyday life. Where do you sit on this journey?
Still in the busy lane ha ha. Yes, life is so so busy now, but little by little I'm learning to try and pull back, we can't keep this pace up forever. Also, I think your mind needs time to zone out, and actually be in the now, not in a million other places. I think 'busy' is becoming the reason why so many of us ( and I say us as in me) are putting off having children too, 'there's no time, I'm so busy', but shit, there is never a good or better time. You just have to live it.
Any mantras you live by in business or at home?
In business, try not to take things too personal. This is super hard for me because when you put everything into your business, it is personal. I aim to 'shake it off', move on, usually say a few curse words then get on with it. Dwelling on things only holds you back, I choose to learn from it instead and better myself. At home, I try and take a bit more time to chill out, like on Sundays, doing as little as possible and eating better & exercising. The last 6 months have been that and I am so much better for it both mentally & physically.
How do you unwind?
I run, get outside, and blob on the couch with MNM's and Netflix, I watch a lot of Netflix ha ha :)
Tina wears and loves Mae handbag in black embossed python. Shop Tina's full edit on our collection below.
Tina also wears - Top from BLAK, Jeans KSUBI (SUPERETTE), heels LATRIBE, earrings ZOE & MORGAN (earrings and heels in store) which can be purchased at The Birdcage Te Awamutu or online.
Eden Kersten is the honey and incredibly talented florist behind The Botanist. She is casual, unflappable and gorgeous as ever! Charmingly shy, yet extremely outgoing. Eden is a girl who knows what is up, but also knows a thing or two about flowers - she makes it all look so beautifully effortless. We chat whilst collaborating on our Primavera spring image project about style, shoots as well as weddings…
Flowers is one of those daunting areas where you really need an expert for guidance – ideas, availability, colours, and cost. Where do you even start?!
How would you describe your style?
I try to be unique and different and it is never style as such for me, just if I dig it, it fits and it ain’t too mediocre (or stained) I’m into it. And AWAYS denim. I am more about quality, key pieces over a bunch of items that I’m not really into.
What drew you to the Juno Tote?
It can easily fit a wine bottle.
It was so much fun to work together on our spring image project. Where did the inspo for the floor arrangements come from?
If I can’t suspend it then let’s have it coming from the ground! Really just trying to create a relaxed vibe, and it helps when you’re surrounded by beautiful blooms. It was also there to try and keep me still.
Your Primavera arrangement was inspired by coveted Saben style, Big Sis Tilly in chestnut. The colours fit so perfectly, tell us more:
I used slipper orchids and begonia leaves as the details in these flowers are just incredible, I feel like they are not your stereotypical flower and they showcase so much personality. I love how each bloom is different, and how the heads stand proudly on top of their furry stems. They also last for weeks and are very rare on the auction floor these days
This wasn’t your first collaboration, what have been some exciting projects you worked on in the past and how do these usually come about?
I’m always up for helping to promote nz brands, especially if it’s something that I’m automatically drawn to, there have been quite a few in the past but I’ve just been working on one with Puhoi who have really come out with the goods!
How would you describe your floral style?
This one’s actually a really hard one! It’s constantly changing depending on the product I have to work with and sometimes my mood. But hopefully, always beautiful.
Can we chat weddings for our engaged readers - What stage of the whole process do you like to meet the bride?
At the end when the weddings over! That is when she comes in to give me a big hug and thank me for making it everything she ever dreamed of. That, and the very first time I meet them to get a vibe of who they are. All of the in-betweens are just lots of emails…
Are there any key questions that you feel a bride should ask their florist?
Yes absolutely, if I would be happy to have what they are after at my own wedding. That and establish if they are open to suggestions.
What are the best way brides can use to find out what flowers are in season for their wedding date?
Check out NZ Instagram pages of weddings that the florists are prepping for the week you are planning to wed.
Do you find that brides come to you interested in very specific flower varieties? Or are they more concerned about a particular colour palette?
Only if it’s for peonies! (Always peonies.) Otherwise just a style and colour palette.
How do you work on the day? Do you prep the majority before?
All week preparing the flowers, so usually over 7 days prior to the wedding date we start the process. Then the majority of the work is done the day before, then final touches, binding, installing etc on the day.
What advice do you have for a bride to find a bouquet that suits her dress?
Usually the rule goes, big dress dainty flowers, fitting dress large flowers. Also, if the dress has lots of details to stay away from busy looking bouquets, but in saying all of this I don’t think it should really matter, as long as both the dress and flowers are beautiful you can’t go to wrong.
What are some of the biggest wedding trends and floral themes among your clients lately?
It’s still stuck in a bit of a same-same rut to be honest! But I’m seeing lots more dainty, elegant posies and meadow-like arrangements.
You’ve recently sold the business to Diana… Tell us about your journey growing The Botanist.
It’s been a rewarding challenge, from a little boutique florist to a thriving flower factory. I’ve loved every minute being able to do what I love.
And now, how does it feel working IN the business alongside Diana?
Great, no more admin! It’s wonderful having the support and someone who is just a passionate about the business as me.
What can we expect to see from you next?
There are definitely exciting things happening for me and my family in the horizon but for now I’m looking forward to spending the summer with my husband and son Jude, more holidays and expanding my creative-tick, possibly in a different way…
BUT flowers will forever be my click.
You can shop bouquets online: https://botanist.co.nz/ BETTER YET - until the end of October, if you use the code SABEN you receive 20% off your order! (As if you needed any more convincing!!! Make your day, or make someone else’s and celebrate spring with The Botanist!!!)
Eden wears and loves Juno Tote and Bex handbag in trans-seasonal favourite chestnut tan. Shop Edens full edit on our collection below.
Diana’s story is a brilliant one. She ditched the corporate life to become a mother, business owner and lend her hand to nature. As if raising two daughters and running two businesses would be easier than a 9-5; we chat to Diana about how business is her soul-food, the launch of The Botanist pop up store, and how when you do what you love it hardly seems like work!
Your journey started in HR – is that right?
My journey in NZ started almost 20 years ago. I came to New Zealand as a student and after my studies I have worked in a wide range of industries, such as hospitality, sales, and HR. I’m very fortunate to have discovered my passion for floristry back in 2012 when we were living in Christchurch.
You have grown a successful business importing kiwi products to China. Tell us a bit more about your business philosophies and how you found your place in the Chinese market?
New Zealand products are perceived to be high quality and eco-friendly by Chinese consumers. As a mother of two little ones, my business philosophy is simple – I only sell and recommend products that I would personally use myself, and I think people really like and respect that. And if our products provide real benefits to our customers then everything else will sort of take care of themselves.
New Zealand is home, tell us about raising your daughters in NZ and what this means to you.
I’m proud to call New Zealand home. A lot people that I know probably don’t realise how lucky they are to be living in New Zealand. I can’t think of any better place to bring up my girls.
Congrats on becoming owner of The Botanist!!! What led you here?
I just love everything that The Botanist brand represents: unconventional, edgy, fun, creative, and bold. It’s definitely a brand with personality. Nowadays, I just think it becomes ever more important to stand for something and be authentic and unapologetic about it. So, when the opportunity came up, it just felt like the right thing to do.
Your passion for people, business and flowers is undeniable. Where do you plan on taking The Botanist next?
We are extremely lucky and privileged to have Eden staying with us and lending us a big hand as Head Florist and Manager. She has poured her heart and soul into The Botanist over the past 4 years and made it into what it is today. With Eden leading our team of talented florists (and freeing her from the admin stuff), my number one priority is to provide an inclusive, supportive, and fun environment for our girls to grow, and to focus on what they love doing. Happy florists make beautiful flowers. And I think our customers will value this.
Work and life are inevitably intertwined, how do you balance your business babies and your actual babies?
It’s no different to any other hardworking young family out there really. It can be demanding sometimes but there’s this quote I really liked from a TED talk by explorer Ben Saunders:
“If we can’t feel content here, today, now, on our journeys, amidst the mess and the striving that we all inhabit, the open loops, the half-finished to-do lists, the could-do-better-next-times, then we might never feel it”
That sort of helps me putting perspective to things.
Your energy is infectious!! We adored having you in studio. What keeps you going? AND in light of the ethos behind Exhale collection, how do you take time for yourself?
Maybe this sounds crazy, but when I’m with flowers, I’m able to sort of zone-out, just be myself. And I do enjoy cooking for my family, too. It’s also a special time to be myself, and to be creative in a different way.
Do you feel that there is a guiding philosophy behind your work and life, or are there any specific mantas you live by?
Do what you love, love what you do, 110%. Things will take care of themselves.
It was SO much fun to collaborate with you and Eden on our Primavera spring image project. Tell us what is like working with head florist, Eden?
I have tremendous respect for Eden. She’s strong, creative, no non-sense, and she’s just simply a beautiful human being. As a team, I think we complement each other, we share the same passion for floristry and life, and we both believes in all the values that The Botanist brand represents.
What are your favourite flowers to work with?
I love Ranunculus, it comes in so many different colours, the blossoms display layer upon layer of silky petals, its just so beautiful, it looks almost unreal.
We go crazy for florals in spring! Is it your preferred season too, or is just a hype as we all get over the frosts of winter?
As a florist, I actually love winter, because flowers last so much longer, and winter flowers are sooooo much more beautiful.
You were SUCH a natural in front of the camera! Is there something you’re not telling us? (hello model!)
Blame my husband. He took so many photos of me over the years…
What do you look for in a handbag?
I don’t like to spend a fortune on bags, so it’s “easier” to keep up with the latest trend.
What drew you to new shape, Rebe handbag for your mama?
Rebe handbag can be formal or casual, pretty much good for most occasions. It really suited her, and mum loves bags with zip top.
TO see more from The Botanist, join them on instagram @thebotanist
OR you can shop bouquets online thebotanist.co.nz
BETTER YET - until the end of October, if you use the code SABEN you receive 20% off your order! (as if you needed any more convincing!!! Make your day, or make someone else’s and celebrate spring with The Botanist!)
Meet Lilah, the babe behind swoon-worthy homewares business Bohème Home. The girl has hustle. She’s also clever, driven, funny and gorgeous! She can speed task like nobody’s business (juggling two kids and a business teaches you an extra thing or two about that) Despite her busy schedule running Boheme Home and mum’ing son Boh (5 years) and daughter Billie (9 months), Lilah is always looking for new pieces to love, products to source or create. Did we mention she always knows about the cool stuff before it’s cool.
So read more on the blog and enjoy her awesome-ness.
A love affair with Bali. You’ve lived there for a while, right? What do you think it is about that magical island that keeps calling you back?
I have travelled a lot through Asia but I have had a love affair with Bali since the minute I stepped foot on that small island. So, when my husband proposed in 2013, there was no question we would get married there. Through the planning process my wedding planner and I became friends and it ended in a job proposal. With the love affair still strong we could not pass this opportunity up so we packed up our life in NZ (with a 3 year old in tow) and moved over. I really got a good feel for Bali in our year there, I worked, we made friends, explored parts of the island you wouldn’t on holiday and the love affair became a solid marriage.
This is when Bohème was born. I don’t know what it is with that little island that keeps calling you back, the friendly people, the strong culture, the smells, the sights, the sun… It’s somewhere that will always be special to our family and I’m sure will be our holiday spot until the kids are old enough to take themselves!
Bohème Home is largely sourced and produced in Bali –Tell us about the ethics and sustainability mantra behind BH
Working alongside people that you trust makes such a difference. They trust me, I trust them and we are both supporting each other.
The pieces we produce in Bali are all completely sustainable, either rattan or wood, and are 100% ethically handmade by our amazing makers. We love that by sourcing and designing in this country we are keeping their amazing skills alive and supporting the small family run businesses.
Tell us a bit about your suppliers and makers?
I knew when I met these people that we would create amazing working relationships but what I didn’t know at the time is that it would be for my own business. I have been working alongside my makers and suppliers for over two years now and they are like family. The first thing that happens when I arrive in Bali is I jump on the back of a scooter with one of the suppliers and trip for 30 minutes into a village to our rattan factory. I arrive to 20 workers all so friendly and welcoming and start to check my samples one by one. It makes me feel so happy when I’m there knowing that our little business is contributing in providing jobs for all of those men and women and keeping their dreams alive. I will never stop doing that part of the design process. I think it’s what sets us apart from the rest. Its hands on the whole way.
14 years in retail before starting your own gig? Give us the lowdown on your story to date.
I have worked in fashion buying and retail since leaving school. This has really been the best apprenticeship to get me to where I am today. It was just a natural progression after working my way up the ladder to finally give something of my own a go. After we moved to Bali everything else seemed to fall into place for Boheme Home. We decided that we wanted to have another child and I realised it was ‘now or never’ so Bohème Home was born!
What has been your most rewarding part of starting your own business to date?
It’s all still really rewarding to be honest. The growing social media, every single sale (I still do a happy dance), being at home with my daughter and working on my big dream is a pretty good feeling. The buying and selling of a product I have designed or sourced. Its’ all pretty bloody good.
Primarily online… can we expect to see a bricks and mortar store from you anytime soon?
Merchandising and styling my own shop everyday would be THE DREAM. I’d love to open a Boheme Home store one day! For now, my online store works perfectly with our young children and lifestyle. In the meantime, I’m so so excited to be joining SABEN in store for my very first pop up shop soon.... Saben x Boheme watch this space!
Home styling tips and tricks:
I think in most cases less is definitely more. I’m trying to use this mantra in my own home, as you can imagine it’s very easy to get carried away when you are designing and importing furniture and homewares. I just want something new from every collection.
I would say just choosing a few key pieces for each room, ones that you will have for a very long time and work around them. You want statement pieces that are enough on their own rather than a whole lot of ‘things’. Simplicity is key.
Describe your personal style (dress):
My personal style would definitely be described as relaxed. I like to be comfy above all else. Most days I’m in a linen shirt (deiji studios) and jeans. I think my style reflects Bohème Home in a sense that it’s comfy, chill, by the beach type wear. Mostly neutral unless I’m feeling really adventurous just like my Insta feed!
What are you currently working on?
Just my next collection at the moment, there is always new designs and ideas in the pipelines. My head is a creative explosion most of the time with a million ideas floating around.
Home life, tell us about your babies Boh and Billie and Mr Boheme Home?
My husband and I have been together for 8 years and married for 3. Hes really the main reason Bohème Home was possible. There was plenty of other things we could have invested our money in (including a first home) but he knew I was ready to give it a shot and pushed me to get it started. He always backs me 100%. I never tell him, but I'm pretty lucky!
We have two ratbags that keep us on our toes, Boh 5 years and Billie 9 Months. We are pretty busy but I have to say the age gap has definitely played a big role in fitting it all in. Boh was lucky enough to live in Bali for a year prior to Billie being born. It was an amazing time together as a family of 3 but now I'm lucky to have Bohème Home at this point in time which allows me to be at home with Billie in these young years.
How do you make time for yourself?
At the moment my me time is night time fitness and yoga (once the kids are in bed) – in the summer it will probably be replaced with wine.
Simple daily pleasures?
So simple.. coffee!
Any style muses you follow?
There are a couple of insta accounts you need in your life!
Erena Te Paa – her home and style is EVERYTHING! I honestly want to move in. She is my home inspo.
I also adore the home (and clothes) of Magali Pascal. Magali’s Bali home is unreal, its minimalist but beautiful.
The ultimate style/muma muse is Sarah Shabacon from Bohème Goods. If you’re not following her thrifty goodness and beautiful instagram you need to.
Lilah wears Bex handbag in black for carrying-all and NEW Walker belt bag for carrying-less. The perfect duo as Lilah transitions been work, travel and mum-mode.
We are so excited to welcome Lilah and her beautiful curated BH goods in store. Refresh your space with these divine pieces made with love.
Primarily based online, this is your chance to get up close and personal with the incredibly beautiful linen and rattan pieces. An edit that will have you feeling those paired back resort vibes at home all year long.
Three days only! Friday 12th - Sunday 14th October from 10.00am
133 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland