Tanya Shaw is the founder and owner of Oh Flora Studio and Oh Flora Store, the brands behind the most dreamy wedding and event florals and timeless ceramics.
Tanya has been behind some of the incredible designs that are on high rotation on our Pinterest boards. In this interview we chat to her about following the seasons and working with nature, the importance of writing down your goals and creating systems and templates and not letting your background determine what you think you’re capable of.
Q1: Hi Tanya, welcome to the Woman Of Series! Can you tell us what it is you create?
Thanks so much for having me!
I’m the founder of Oh Flora Studio & Oh Flora Store. We create dreamy, earth conscious florals and design concepts for weddings and events. I also design beautiful ceramics for floral designers and timeless decor lovers.
Q2: When did you start floristry? What inspired you to go down this path?
Floral design is something that had been on my mind since childhood but I never really had the chance to try it out until my early 20’s. I had just temporarily moved to Sydney from my hometown on the Far North Coast of NSW for a change of scene and after deciding I’d stay for a while, I saw it as an opportunity to learn something I’ve always wanted to.
I’ve always had a deep love of nature and being outside exploring. As a child I loved collecting shells, flowers and feathers (still do), crafting all the things, baking, drawing and basically attempting any type of creative project I could think of. I was also a little party-obsessed and loved creating decorations, treats and games for my birthdays or Christmas.
As I grew up, these loves of mine only became stronger and so I was always drawn to a career where I could create and celebrate people and nature.
Q3: Talk us through your creative process. How do you reach your signature style?
With my floral designs I’m a big believer in following the seasons and working with nature, using colour and always adding textural elements that feel as though they “dance” through the composition. I’m also drawn to a lot of variety, often inspired by old world paintings (think Dutch Masters) and 17th and 18th century interior design. They really loved layers of decor, decorative moulding and detailed fixtures. I love to layer flowers in an arrangement as decorators did then with layering decor and details throughout a room. It feels as though; ‘if they liked it, they added it’, they weren’t confined by design “rules”. I really like that as a philosophy - although it can sound a bit cliche, I really believe in being true to yourself. That's what makes you, your business and designs stand out from others.
I approach my designs with our couples or the project in mind. I believe - just like the rest of the events design elements - the florals should speak to the setting and tone of the event and this is heavily influenced by the venue and our clients personalities.
When it comes to the actual flower arranging, the vessel the flowers go into is just as important as the blooms themselves. This will impact the overall aesthetic and contribute (or limit) the shape of the design, so it’s super important!
(the importance of vessels and styling pieces heavily inspired the decision to open the Oh Flora Store).
After considering these points, I’ll move into exploring colour palette options and floral varieties available for the season, usually using lots of different shapes, sizes and textures.
Q4: What is your favourite piece you’ve created? Why?
Can I have two, please?
This fabulous dinner party in Mexico was a total team effort! We host destination floral design and business workshops and this one was held in the heart of Roma Norte, Mexico City.
To end each workshop, the attendees work with myself and our team to execute a dinner party installation and table setting (that has been designed prior). After all the hard work and styling is complete, our attendees head back to their hotels for a couple of hours and then return all dressed up to fully immerse themselves in the magic dinner party setting they have created - with lots of food, wine, cocktails and music of course!
This is one of my favourites because I remember designing the mood board, colours and details here in Australia and imagining how it’ll all come together when we finally got to put it together.
Of course, as per usual in the events world, there were a few challenges along the way, but the result was the most beautiful floral illustration of our time together and reflected the lively, vibrant and always visually exciting organised chaos that is Mexico City.
Our Oh Flora Compote. The creation of our “Oh Flora Store” something that had been on my mine for years and when we finally decided on taking the leap into the unknown world of product design and online retail just last year, it’s become an absolute dream to have these compotes (along with our other vessels) come to live via craftswomen and men in Sri Lanka.
It’s an absolute honour to now have our ceramics in the vase collections of so many designers and flower lovers, literally all over the world - from France to the US and even Panama and Reunion!
Our customers include some of the industries best and most influential designers - bringing this project into fruition has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.
Q5: What single tool or strategy have you found invaluable to your business so far?
Keeping organised logs and notes of everything!
It’s so important to write down your goals, systems, templates and to do lists for you to refer back to, stay on track and be sure you’re consistent with communications and your brand voice.
And it’ll make it so much easier if and when you decide to bring someone on to assist you. Even if you think it’s simple or you’ll remember forever, it’s still a good idea to get it down.
We mostly use Google Docs and Sheets to keep everything organised but there's also applications like Trello & Clickup.
P.S I’d also love to note the book: Atomic Habits by James Clear. A life changing book for anyone wanting to stay on track and kick goals!
Q6: What (and who) is involved in the process of bringing your products to life?
We are a small team of three, including myself and two part-timers, who help me with everything from graphic design, packing orders and shipping, timelines, vendor correspondence, flower prep and everything in between. On event weeks our team might grow by 2-8 people (contractors) depending on the scale of the project - for destination events, my husband usually joins the team!
We design our ceramics here in Australia and they are ethically and sustainably handcrafted in Sri Lanka by a small family run factory. We have visited the factory and met many of the artisans that create our pieces. Sri Lanka is so beautiful and so are its people.
We donate a percentage of each sale to Kind Hearted Lankans to give back to those in need in Sri Lanka.
Q7: What is your big hope and dream for your work?
I absolutely love having variety within my work - designing weddings, product design, an online store, visual content creation, teaching and hosting workshops - so I really hope to keep up this creative fusion that makes my job engaging and fun. I love that all these things, in one way or another, can bring joy, exploration, beauty, romance and nature to others' lives, so I really hope to continue bringing these things to others.
I’d also love to add more beautiful pieces to our Store and ideally work with artisans in small communities around the world. Being sure our products are ethically and sustainably made is our top priority. Adding more pieces with multiple uses is definitely on the cards.
Q8: What are your top 3 superpowers?
(haha! Good question!)
Q9: We’re all about women inspiring women. Who inspires you?
Those before us in recent history or hundreds of years ago that fought against all forms of adversity to give us the opportunities that we have today as women.
Q10: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
Don’t let your background determine what you think you’re capable of. Go with your gut! Your intuition is never wrong. Try not to hang around, or limit time with others that hold you back… you know who they are.
Business is hard work and unfortunately there aren't any shortcuts, so be sure you’re passionate about the work you’re doing. It’ll make the really tough days worth it in the end.
We’d love to ask.... in what ways are you supporting your favourite creators during these uncertain times?
I’ve been shopping online from my favourite creators and small businesses and sending messages of encouragement to let them know I love their products or how they’ve positively impacted me.