As a young girl, Cherrie Miriklis-Pavlou would sell flowers after school from outside her parents’ green grocer. In 1989, she opened her own flower shop, Flowers Vasette, in Melbourne, and it has since become the largest floral and events business of its kind in Australia.

The company produces everything from small flower arrangements for birthdays and anniversaries, to massive installations for weddings and corporate dinners. It has won Gold and Silver ‘Florist of the Year’ at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Cherrie was one of 10 Australian entrepreneurs to be featured in a stunning photoshoot for International Women’s Day 2019, organised by the founder of Australian fashion label Mastani, Kudrat Makkar. The photoshoot celebrates the rise of Australian female entrepreneurs and aims to inspire younger and older generations alike to discover and live out their true purpose.

We spoke to Cherrie about the joys of her job and the importance of embracing change.

Q. What is the best part of your job?

A. I love the changes that come with the seasons. I am inspired by the beautiful treasures I can find at the market and at Flowers Vasette’s own 10-acre garden – Beechmont Garden Retreat. It’s exciting to source the florals for our store and for special events.

I also adore the memories that the flowers evoke, especially when people come to me and reflect on their Flowers Vasette wedding flowers or special occasion florals. We’re involved in many milestone occasions and it’s such a pleasure to be included in family histories.

My greatest joy, however, is the inverse proportion. Flowers only last so long, but the memory and what they added to the occasion lasts forever.

Q. What career achievements are you most proud of?

A. Sustaining the business since 1989 and celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. Also being able to take my staff on the journey. I feel proud when accomplished staff reach milestones within my organisation – some have been here for twenty years. The loyalty of my team is paramount to the success of my business.

Q. What do you wish someone had told you at the start of your career?

A. That business is never black and white – to succeed, you need to be open to change and ride the wave – and that you have to be a juggler and half the balls you juggle are curve balls!

Q. What are your top three tips for building a brand?

  1. Always employ people better than you. When you find good people, hang on to them. It’s important to have the right staff because you’re only as good as your people. Investing in your staff pays off because those who stay long term will understand the brand and can convey this to customers and clients.
  2. Be open to evolution. What worked five years ago may not work today. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
  3. Never stop learning.

Q. How do you overcome doubts?

A. I take a few deep breaths – I’m lucky that I can literally stop and smell the roses – and then move on. Taking the time to pause gives me the opportunity to reassess and look for a solution. I only believe in solutions. Times of doubt can affect confidence, but you’ve just got to keep going. Experience makes you wiser and doubt is just part of that experience.

Q. What does International Women’s Day mean to you? And will you be doing anything to mark the day?

A. It’s about freedom for women. We celebrate the diversity and achievements of women in all industries and acknowledge how far we’ve come towards gender equality. We honour those who began this movement and keep the ball rolling for the generations to come.

For International Women’s Day, we’re going to collaborate with some local artists. Keep your eyes out, we don’t want to give away too many surprises just yet!

Q. Why was it important to you to be involved in the Mastani shoot?

A. It’s always my pleasure to be included with up-and-coming and established female talent in creative industries. It reminds me of a great expression, ‘when the water rises, all boats float’. When women get a chance to meet and help one another, it benefits us all. It was also fun to come together with women I’d heard of but hadn’t met in person. New relationships, both business and personal, come from opportunities like this. Friendships have already formed and that is one of our greatest strengths as women.

Mastani International Women's Day photoshoot credits:
Wearing Mastani Label AW19 collection – Edit 1 – available online Monday 4 March
Wardrobe – Mastani Label
Photographer – Liane Hurvitz
Stylist – Jessica Alizzi
HMU – Chantelle Baker
Location – Studio Gallery Melbourne
Artwork – Kerry Armstrong Art
Floral – Flowers Vasette
Jewellery – Fiorina
Furniture – Grazia & Co

We also sat down with Australian influencer Jessica Alizzi to discuss her exciting job and what she wished she knew at the start of her career.