Finance to Flowers: An Interview with Ani Wilson

Finance to Flowers: An Interview with Ani Wilson

Introducing the powerhouse behind The Stone Willow Studio, Ani Wilson. Farewelling her former corporate lifestyle, Ani moved to London to pursue a career in floristry. With an emphasis on extraordinary, locally-grown and foraged flower and plant materials, Ani has wed her passion for sustainable practices and natural beauty to create her curiously beautiful Brisbane-based flower studio we adore.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Curious, intuitive, creative.

Tell us about your career change.
In 2017 I was living in Upstate New York and had a summer romance with the flower field at Great Song Farm. I have always adored flowers, having them in the house was a weekly ritual, but Great Song Farm was my first experience of cutting my own stems and taking them home to arrange. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew that I was experiencing a profound relationship with nature, and I felt emotionally connected to what I was creating. I ignored the calling for 18 months, and after being made redundant from my job in finance I enrolled in a career course at London Flower School. London Flower School absolutely captivated me, and I realised that my appetite for knowledge about flowers, and their role in our human need for beauty, was insatiable.

How was your overseas experience?
My overseas experience was vast and exceptionally privileged. I moved to London in my early 20’s to pursue a career in music management, but after a series of questionable life decisions, ended up working as a portfolio manager trading currencies for a hedge fund. I spent the better part of a decade working in finance and living between London, New York and Monaco. It was a very fast paced, adrenaline fuelled existence, but living in three of the most exceptional cities in the world gave me access to the best of what art, food and culture have to offer. It was a truly immersive education, I’m grateful to have experienced such a fortunate existence.

"I realised that my appetite for knowledge about flowers, and their role in our human need for beauty, was insatiable."

Have any films, time periods, or artists influenced your creative style?
The Japanese avant-garde artist Sofu Teshigahara, the founder of Sogetsu School of Ikebana, is a constant source of inspiration and influence. He was dedicated to teaching Ikebana as an art form as opposed to a decor feature, incorporating the experimental spirit of modern art into the context of traditional Ikebana. He had a unique vision of materials, form and spatial perception, encouraging Ikebana artists to look at nature with a curious eye and use unorthodox materials in compositions.

What has been your favourite project to date?
I have an ongoing photo project with my friend, Sydney based Dutch photographer Peter Van Alphen. I’m very envious of (and adore) his eye and aesthetic sensibility. I trust that even if I create something conventionally unattractive, he will find a way to shoot it beautifully. We never have a plan for our shoots, and they are usually last minute when I happen to be in Sydney, so the spontaneity keeps it fun and the images are constantly evolving. The best part of my job is the people that the flowers connect me to, so it is always special to create with friends.

How did The Stone Willow Studio come to life?
I started the studio when I graduated from London Flower School and moved to Brisbane. I leased a small space at an artist studio, and started making an ephemeral mess, occasionally putting it on instagram. Naively, I never questioned whether or not I would have my own business, creatively it felt like the only option.

What is a piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Follow your intuition, and go to therapy!

What is something you're passionate about?
I’m passionate about sustainability in the flower industry. The industry is absolutely fraught with issues, from plastic waste, pesticides, carbon cost and the impact and risk of imported flowers - It’s an environmental and ethical minefield that is mostly hidden from consumers. We have some of the most incredible natural materials growing on our doorstep in Australia, it’s frivolous to not take advantage of that kind of beauty. If there is one thing I can encourage, it is buying locally grown, seasonal flowers - not only will they have a longer vase life, you won’t subject yourself to nasty pesticides that imported flowers are covered in.

Follow Ani Wilson's work
Instagram: @thestonewillowstudio