Like typical florists, Flawer Studio is all about creating beautiful floral arrangements.
But unlike most florists who pride themselves on perfectly prim flowers with glossy leaves and glossier petals, Flawer Studio searches for beauty in imperfections, or flaws.
Hence the name, Flawer. Its Chinese name has a deeper meaning, too. Called 變態美 (Biàn tài měi), it’s a play on words that refers to changing perceptions and attitudes about beauty, such that even when you’re in your darkest moments, you can see beauty in everything, including unwanted flowers.
This is all according to Flawer Studio’s founder, Shayne.
Interestingly, she herself didn’t always see beauty this way.
With a Master’s degree in PR, she had originally been in the event planning industry, where floral arrangements were used in abundance.
She didn’t care much for them then, and it was only after she had quit event planning that she started learning about floral arrangements.
Living in Ipoh at the time, one of Shayne’s friends was hosting a flea market. To support her, Shayne decided to take a booth. As luck may have it, the booth that she got was right by the entrance.
“But at the time, I didn’t know what to sell,” Shayne admitted.
Looking at the current trends, she decided to do something with mini flowers. From there, she started an Instagram account.
To her surprise, she started gaining traction, perhaps thanks to her designs beyond the realm of flowers—she had taken extra care to design the logo, name card, and more.
Her brand then was called L’espoir, which means hope in French.
But in 2020, she decided to pivot in a different artistic direction, which led to the birth of Flawer Studio.
Rebranding, beginning with herself
The reason why Shayne decided to explore such an unconventional route can be described as magical.
“I passed by some unwanted flowers, and I could feel that,” she paused for a moment, as though contemplating what to say next, “They were talking to me and asking for help.”
“This [experience], I always tell people. But I personally felt that it’s something weird.”
The occurrence didn’t make sense to Shayne, until she started learning more about the healing process and other spiritual teachings such as Reiki (a Japanese form of energy healing, a type of alternative medicine). Slowly, she began to realise that she was able to heal herself and others around her through flowers.
In time, she began to meet like-minded people, eventually forming a community that also recognised the healing powers of flowers. “The thing that I felt was weird is now normal already,” Shayne mused.
With this mindset, Flawer was created to focus on not just typical floral arrangements, but also pushing the limits of how the beauty of flowers can be appreciated.
A lot of its products and installations focus on dried flowers, oftentimes leading to more rustic and subtle beauty rather than the bright, vibrant colours we’re used to seeing in bouquets.
Of course, it’s not the only studio that creates dried flower bouquets, as other florists will typically have some dried flower options.
“I don’t know if other people are doing this for a good cause, or for profit, or for their art, or they just think it’s beautiful,” Shayne said. “I don’t go and explore these things, I just do my own part.”
Plus, beyond just working with dried flowers to make bouquets, Flawer steps it up by focusing on something even more niche—unwanted flowers.
Turning petals into profit
At Flawer’s concept store, there is a flower bin for people to leave their unwanted flowers.
She also often receives pick-up requests from people who have a lot of leftover flowers due to events.
These flowers go towards Flawer Studio’s upcycling efforts. Other than repurposing some of the flowers, Shayne and her team will also bring these flowers out to create unique art pieces.
They do this by incorporating the flowers with whatever’s in the environment, from old road barriers to abandoned furniture.
If the art pieces are done in public spaces, Shayne said that the team would typically clean them up once they finish, just out of social responsibility. However, sometimes people would want them to leave the pieces there because of their beauty.
“But if you’re asking me if this earns money, I can tell you [the answer is] ‘no’,” Shayne said. “That’s more like a ritual for us. We don’t earn from that.”
Rather, the bulk of their revenue comes from selling their bouquets and art installations to B2B and B2C clients.
Beyond these unwanted flowers and dried flowers, Flawer Studio works with fresh flowers too.
“What we are promoting is that even with fresh flowers, it has its way to stay longer if we upcycle them into something else,” Shayne explained.
Today, Shayne has worked with major brands such as Aesop, Max Mara, Starhill, and more. When asked about how she came to work with them, Shayne shared that she has “no idea”, though she finds that she typically shares the value of sustainability with these brands.
Flawer Studio’s distinctive artistic style could be a reason why these brands have sought to work with them too, as they typically trust Shayne with whatever she envisions.
From the start, Shayne’s journey has always been people-centric. It started because of her desire to help a friend, and the friend had returned in kind by giving her a booth with high foot traffic.
“Along the way, I’ve had a lot of people who support me,” Shayne shared. “Even when I want to give up, there are all these people supporting me. So, there’s no reason to give up. That’s what keeps me going.”
“I have very business type of friends, and very artistic types of friends,” she said. “I’m surrounded by all these different types of people, so I’m like a sponge of everything. I have a lot of different kinds of ideas.”
Down the road, she dreams of opening up more locations. Beyond just upping sales, though, one of Shayne’s main goals behind that is that customers will have more avenues to drop off their unwanted flowers.
Although, this could also be achieved by working with other businesses to incorporate a flower bin at their stores.
As a more artistically inclined person, Shayne admitted she doesn’t really have a clear answer yet as to how she would actually open up so many stores and sustain them.
“Some parts of what I do is not profitable,” she pointed out. “So, how do I make it a healthy cycle in order to grow my team as well? Because I need more people.”
With all of these uncertainties, I wondered what gave Shayne the confidence or validation to start such a brand in the first place.
“We are not sure,” Shayne replied, “[But if you] never try, [you] never know. We have a vision and just keep the passion going.“
- Learn more about Flawer Studio here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: @yiiiimm / Flawer Studio