How Blush owner Kelly Karam became one of Auckland’s leading florists

25 May 2018
By Fashion Quarterly


Accidental florist Kelly Karam is reinventing the art of flower arranging — and the future is looking rosy indeed, says Katie May Ruscoe.

Unexpected pairings. Seasonally and ethically sourced. Simply prepared and presented. They’re terms we’ve become familiar with when it comes to food, but more recently it’s been the floral world’s turn for a makeover (or make-under as the case may be), with a new wave of florists eschewing the fussy arrangements and lolly-hued cellophane of old for a more pared-back and style-forward approach.

One of the leading names amongst this cohort is Kelly Karam of Auckland’s Blush Florists, whose fresh, modern floral arrangements, supported by a beautiful, well-considered brand identity (a must in the age of Instagram) have made her one of the country’s most in-demand florists — and in particular, a go-to bloom wrangler for the local fashion industry.

From providing countertop bouquets for leading retailers, to creating elaborate, bespoke installations for product launches and other events, Karam’s popularity amongst the fashion and beauty set did not come about by chance.

As she explains: “My business manager and I sat down really early on and said we wanted the Blush brand to be one of the top influencers in the floral world.”

Having studied fashion design, Karam “accidentally fell in love” with floristry while working in a family friend’s flower shop, following her university studies.

Having studied fashion design, Karam “accidentally fell in love” with floristry while working in a family friend’s flower shop, following her university studies.

Although she’s been creating work under the Blush name for more than a decade, business really took off in 2016 with the opening of the Blush Florist Boutique, in the ever-chic suburb of Parnell.

“I never imagined nor wanted a retail store,” says Karam, “but I saw this amazing space for lease one day while grabbing a coffee at [Parnell cafe] Rosie. Four weeks later, my husband — a crazy, risk-taking entrepreneur — signed the lease and said: ‘Right, what shall we do with it?’”

Not so much a florist’s shopfront as a one-stop destination for all things beautiful and gift-worthy, the Blush Boutique is a calming, elegant space befitting the lovely things within — think crisp white walls, brass cabinetry, and Douglas and Bec furniture in shades of, you guessed it, blush.

“I’ve always been obsessed with design,” explains Karam of the fit-out, which she designed herself, “so being able to turn a blank canvas into my dream space was the ultimate for me.”

blush-kelly-karam-feature-750-422Kelly’s success in a highly competitive market is the result of meticulous planning.

Being a stickler for a clear, cohesive aesthetic, Karam took the boutique’s opening as an opportunity to perfect the Blush brand in general. Enlisting the help of Auckland designer Hannah Souter (whose clients include fashion label Marle, and hot-spot eateries Odettes and Hugo’s Bistro), Karam reinvented Blush with a fresh, feminine brand identity and clever, simple packaging.

This attention to detail, together with Karam’s fun, unique approach to arrangements (“we love mixing textures and unexpected floral varieties”), impressed luxury candle makers Ecoya, who approached her in 2017 to create her own fragrance for their limited edition Perfect Bouquet collection.

As one of just three Australasian florists (and the only one from New Zealand) to be chosen, Karam describes the collaboration with Ecoya as “an honour”.

“I loved the process,” she explains. “I spent a lot of time working out the notes I wanted to incorporate and then between Ecoya and I we refined it until it was perfect.”

The resulting Ecoya x Blush candle is, according to Karam, “a heavenly, romantic white floriental”.

“I love tropical fragranced flowers and tuberose is an absolute favourite of mine — so that was a given. We then added the base note of fig and top notes of green leaves to round out the sweet and sultry tones.”

blush-kelly-karam-feature2-750-422Candles and blossoms are best buds when paired in the luxe Ecoya x Blush range.

Although they are an enduring staple in perfume, the appearance of strong flower scents in home fragrances often gets a bit of a bad rap. For many people it carries with it less than pleasant associations with cloying, fake floral air fresheners or Nana’s dusty potpourri.

But the use of carefully selected high-quality oils, and an expert balancing of rich florals with fresh-cut green notes and warming New Zealand cedarwood puts this rounded, luxurious scent (which is available in both candle and diffuser form) firmly in the realm of Fracas, not Febreze.

Launched in February with a glamorous, flower-filled event in Sydney, the Ecoya x Blush range is already flying off the pale pink shelves of the Blush Boutique, and its release puts the effervescent Kelly Karam one step closer to achieving that early, business-launching goal of flower world domination.

Words: Katie May Ruscoe
Photos: Micahel James Rooke
Hair and Makeup: Kath Gould
Kelly wears head to toe Maggie Marilyn and her favourite Gucci shoes.
This article appeared in Fashion Quarterly Magazine, Issue 1, 2018.

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