From international relations to flower arrangements

The last thing Yasmine wants to be is a cliché. There was no formative experience involving a picnic at the Botanical Garden, nor a childhood amazed by her grandmother’s rose bushes. She specifically asks me not to mention that her name means jasmine – the flower – in Persian. She wears light blue jeans and a brown sweater with an embroidered flower on the right sleeve.

Yasmine and I first met in 2018, as colleagues in an office in Artarmon. Our offices were at opposite ends of the building, separated by lots of lovely older workers, as well as a decades-old filing room that I remodeled by hand (if your boss asks for your strength, pretend to to have problems). Luckily for me, Yasmine’s office was near the kitchen, so between microwaving my lunch and making coffees, it was relatively easy to craft reasons to bump into each other. It was the start of my caffeine addiction, but at least I had a friend.

That was until Yasmine quit.

“I saw an ad for this florist, which is close to my house. I was following them on Instagram and I liked them a lot, so I decided to apply,” says Yasmine.

However, her path to floristry was not easy. After high school, Yasmine enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts at Macquarie University. She participated for a total of three weeks before realizing she wasn’t ready and ended up dropping out a few days before the census date.

If not for the fact that her mother had worked at TAFE, Yasmine says she wouldn’t have known a floristry course was even an option.

“I went to Willoughby Girls, and in grade 12 they definitely focused on getting a good ATAR. They also talked like college was the only option,” she says.

This is the reality of around half of school leavers, with 47.8% of Australians under 25 currently enrolled in a bachelor’s degree. Worryingly, 19% of undergraduates had seriously considered leaving their current institution in 2021. For the record, you are allowed to keep your options open.

“I did floristry part-time, and it’s one day a week at TAFE. I always wanted to go to college, I just wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, so I took some time off first. I went back and did a Bachelor of Arts at Macquarie, and did International Relations as my major, which I really enjoyed and found very interesting.

“I feel like I understand a lot better than if I didn’t go to college, so I don’t regret it at all,” she says.

Yasmine graduated from Macquarie this year, and now works full-time at The Ivy League Florist at Naremburn. Her colleagues have similar stories of discovering floristry after leaving very different industries.

“We all did other things, then changed directions: one did finance in college, then worked for PWC. Another of the girls was in events, and my boss did a bunch of stuff first,” she said.

“I think a lot of people in the industry came from other backgrounds like corporate jobs, but that can really help, especially if you’re business savvy.”

Part of that business savvy includes a neatly organized Instagram page.

“Instagram is really huge for floristry. I think that’s how brides and clients find their florist. It’s like having a wallet,” she says. I can’t think of a more compelling ad to work with. in a flower shop than this.

“When I go to work and we all chat, I feel like you hang out with your friends. And working with flowers is really nice. Being surrounded by nature is amazing. Certainly not everything is easy and it’s not as romantic as it looks, but overall a very nice place to work.

Yasmine tells me she has to leave soon because she has promised to walk her neighbour’s dog.

“If there were other people in your position, uncertain, perhaps thinking of floristry, what would you say to those people?” I ask.

“I would definitely say try anything. Typically, people in college are young, and as long as we’re that age, it’s easier to take such risks than when you’re older and maybe have more responsibilities. It’s scary, but somehow I feel like it’s easier to do it now.

“I’m definitely happy. I do not know. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in ten years, maybe I’ll go back and use my degree. But for now, I’m really happy.

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