Meet the talented sisters behind silk flower business Curated Botanics
The sister act behind Curated Botanics have combined their interior design and floristry skills to create faux botanical arrangements that look so natural people assume they’re real.
Nothing says Christmas quite like a beautiful bowl of flowers, a botanically themed centrepiece or a floral wreath hanging on the front door or above the mantelpiece. Adding greenery for that wow factor is non-negotiable for interior design Abbey Lang and her florist sister Heather Boswell-Nguyen, who run their family business, Curated Botanics, from a studio on Auckland’s North Shore. And while the siblings have had a life-long love affair with fresh blooms, their high-quality silk flowers are in a class of their own, no longer pale imitations of the real thing. Perfect for the festive months, they give everyone the opportunity to have beautiful displays as the silly season arrives.
What is the inspiration behind Curated Botanics?
Abbey: "As an interior designer, I always see spaces for beautiful flowers in my clients' homes. The downside to flowers in my clients' homes. The downside to flowers though is that a week or two, they have finished their life and they leave an empty hole in a space that had once been gorgeous. I know the time and effort it takes to have flowers and plants in every room because I do it in my own home. I love it, but I also know that there’s something brilliant about having things that bring you permanent joy, without the effort.
I am fortunate to have the most incredibly talented sister, Heather, who is an experienced florist with a fine arts degree in floral sculpture, and my husband, John, who has a sales and marketing background. John was ready for a new challenge and had been itching to build a family business for a long time. Between the three of us, we created Curated Botanics, a beautiful collection of faux flower arrangements that reflect our love of nature, Heather’s impeccable eye for colour, texture and form, and my passion for interior design.”
How important are flowers for making a home feel extra special?
Abbey: “Botanicals are the icing on the cake! Whether it be freshly picked flowers from your garden, a curated piece from us, or a beautiful plant, they will soften straight lines and are essential in making a house a home.”
What are your flowers made of? Are they all made from real silk?
Heather: “Silk tends to be a general term for artificial flowers these days. However, they are not actually made from silk. They are mostly made from a mix of plastics, synthetics and fabrics (we try to source stems that are made from recycled plastics, where possible). These new materials can create some unbelievably real-looking flowers. Most of our range contains metal inside the stems to allow the stems to be bent into and hold shape to enhance a ‘real’ appearance. The technology has come a long way and the real-touch petals not only look real but also feel real. We have even sourced a high-end crystal-clear resin to produce artificial ‘water’ in our glass vase ranges.”
Faux flowers can be quite an investment. Do you consider them to be decoration or art or a bit of both?
Heather: “This is an interesting one, as when we started, we ran the business with the mentality of a florist, but as we have grown we’ve realised that we are more in the homewares and gifts category, and our ‘pieces’ are often permanent (or moved around the home) and more like a piece of art than a bunch of flowers. We have even done a few large-scale bespoke projects in homes with the brief to create a permanent part of their interior as an art installation.”
Your flowers are so amazingly realistic. Are they often mistaken for the real thing?
Abbey: “We put a lot of time and effort into sourcing only the most realistic-looking faux flowers. Heather’s experience as a florist makes her extra fussy – which is a good thing! Most people assume they are real when they see them – and that is what we want!”
Would you ever consider mixing fresh and faux flowers in an arrangement?
Heather: “No, just for the fact that this takes away most of the advantages of using faux – low maintenance, no mess, no watering, allergen free, permanent and no need to replace them. We do, however, sometimes incorporate real branches and moss into our displays, providing they will age well.”
Are faux florals and greenery more sustainable than real flowers?
In terms of a carbon footprint, it is widely thought that faux flowers are a better alternative to fresh flowers.
"It makes sense if you consider that faux flowers are shipped once and will last for many years, whereas fresh flowers are shipped and last for just one week. Not needing to water them is also a bonus.”
How do you take care of faux flowers and plants?
Heather: “Our arrangements and plants require very little maintenance. However, they are still precious and need to be looked after. The most common issue is dusting. When required, we recommend using a hairdryer on a low heat to blow away the dust, a gentle handheld vacuum cleaner, or a soft dusting with a duster. If this is done regularly, they will always look fresh. For storing arrangements between use (eg. our Christmas range), we supply a gift box for safe storage.”
What is the best thing about working with your sister in a family business?
Heather: “Abbey and I are quite in tune with each other and know each other’s taste, and this makes it effortless and fun. We both have a real respect for each other’s talent and have different strengths that we can each lean on when required. Also, we are super close as a family, and although it is madness at times (actually most of the time), we love having the kids, grandparents and cousins around, with everyone pitching in to help.”
What is your favourite type of arrangement at Christmas?
Heather: “Because our Christmases are in summer and fresh flowers wither quickly, I’ve really enjoyed creating everlasting wreaths and garlands. They really elevate the Christmas spirit and enhance any dining/entertaining setting.”
How will you be celebrating Christmas this year?
Abbey: “We will be living the legacy our grandparents left, by sharing Christmas lunch with our extended family (and those who have adopted us). Our mum is now ‘Grandma’ and she has taken the place of our late nan, running the show and, most importantly, making the Russian fudge."