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Katarina has a theory about flowers.
"I've always thought that when people are unwell, if you can tie in a bit of medicine with the flowers, there's a meaning behind what you're giving them. It's more than just a bunch of flowers. So as well as making people happy, the motivation is to give people better health. That's why I do floristry."
With backgrounds in nursing, horticulture and quarantine, Katarina is well-placed to hold this theory. For her, the giving of flowers is an amalgamation of different disciplines and specialist knowledge. And as a multiple career changer, she has a wide range of disciplines and specialist knowledge to draw from.
The nursing came first. This was three years at Balmain. Then came the horticulture, which she studied at TAFE NSW, graduating in 1989. This led to a "fabulous" stint working at Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens.
"Horticulture is such a great career area because it's so varied," she said. "There are so many different specialities." And then she joined quarantine, where she worked for 23 years.
"I did all the risk assessment for the entire country," she said. "Sea ports, airports, mail exchange, imported food program, a lot on shipping. I ended up being a supervisor and a trainer. I wrote a lot of the training programs and worked on staff performance management. It was extremely varied."
Katarina then decided to pursue floristry, something that would make use of both her nursing and horticulture experience.
"I see floristry and horticulture and nursing as all complementing each other," she says.
"Sometimes the younger students ask why we need to know the names of the plants. But it means that when you're in a business you can help someone with more than just their floral requests. If they have a function it's either grief or happiness. Flowers are at all the significant milestones in our lives. If you can help them with other things they'll be very grateful because it helps them understand, like how to make the flowers last longer, how to recycle them, et cetera. I think it makes it a bit more fulfilling. I see floristry as being integrated with health and wellbeing. That's what it's about for me."
Now, whenever Katarina gives someone flowers, she finds she's drawing on her nursing experience, her horticulture experience and her quarantine experience.
"And I've done aromatherapy as well," she says. "So if you tie all of those things together, it's that 10% of everything that adds up slowly to a point where what you're giving isn't just a bunch of flowers. There's a meaning behind them. It's an amalgamation of time and experiences, so that when you give people flowers it's a joy. And everyone loves flowers."
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