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September 22, 2021 4 min read

“I am incredibly energised by working with nature, it really is a dream to be surrounded by flowers every day. I am constantly inspired by the ever-changing beauty of flowers, and seasonal changes that come with working with a product of nature”.

Brooke Down, Founder and Creative Director of the Flower Bar Co, Bangalow, has been on a colourful and at times, thorny trajectory since purchasing the iconic florist shop only months ahead of the Covid 19 pandemic. 

Known not only for her exquisitely beautiful floral creations, housed in a heritage listed, art-deco building in the picturesque town of Bangalow (just outside of Byron Bay), but also for the carefully curated collection of locally made pottery, paintings and artisanal chocolates that adorn the shelves of this beautiful store. And whilst unable to give any names away, suffice to say, that Brooke and her team at The Flower Bar Co are the go-to florist for all the major Hollywood movies that have been filmed in the area lately as well as the first call for Bryon’s behemoth local wedding industry.

And, if the acquisition of a new business isn’t stressful enough, Brooke has compounded that challenge with a move from the Central Coast, a young daughter, a commuting husband, and now a new baby on the way!

In her account for A Grounded Life, Brooke shares how revelling in small daily family moments, hands-on work with nature, creating floral art and pursuing her passion keep her grounded, inspired, and bring about the ultimate reward of fulfilment and joy.

Please enjoy this bold and flourishing account of a very Grounded Life, lived by Brooke Down.

Where do you call home?

Home for me is Coorabell, in the Byron Bay Hinterland, although over the past year and a half, I have been living between our beachside home on the lower Central Coast of NSW and here in Coorabell. It’s been a period of transition for our family into our new lifestyle here. 
What does ‘home’ mean to you? Home is where family comes together, a place of relaxation and escape. It’s where my loved ones are. It’s a messy kitchen on a Saturday morning, it’s my daughters arts and crafts spread throughout each room (much to my husbands delight ).

What are the elements that help you transform a house into your home?

Textiles, art and living objects are key for me, they bring meaning and colour in to our home. I am quite a thoughtful buyer, I have been known to spend months searching for the right throw! 

What creative projects find you most excited and energised?

I am incredibly energised by working with nature, it really is a dream to be surrounded by flowers every day. I am constantly inspired by the ever-changing beauty of flowers, and seasonal changes that come with working with a product of nature. I am at a point in my career where, finally, I am using both sides of my brain. I am able to pursue my creative passions, whilst leveraging my business expertise to take our brands to new heights.

Which life and/or work projects are you most proud of?

In life, I am most proud of co-creating my daughter, Elle, and baby number two who will join us in early Spring! Elle has taught my husband and I so much about love and the meaning of life. In business, I am most proud of taking the leap out of the corporate world, to purposefully pursue my passions.

Could you share with us some personal insights into a challenging time in your life?

Undeniably, 2020 was a challenging year for me personally. Having only just left behind my successful, and stable corporate career in Sydney in late 2019 to pursue a more balanced lifestyle in the northern rivers, I felt incredibly vulnerable and exposed as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded around me. My husband and I purchased The Flower Bar in Bangalow in December 2019 and were only in our third month of trading when the pandemic began to unfold. With my husband stuck in Sydney, and me raising my daughter alone in a new area, with a retail business, and several other e-commerce businesses at risk, I felt like I had lost touch with myself completely. I barely slept for the best part of 6 months as I navigated through what was an incredibly uncertain and challenging time. I had many moments where I questioned myself, felt like I was failing and letting my family down, but at the end of the day, both myself, my family and our businesses have come out the other side stronger and closer than ever.

What did you learn about yourself throughout this challenge?

I learnt that I am a very resilient individual, but that I do not need to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, nor does anyone expect me to.

What type of activities or rituals do you instil to help you remain Grounded?

I practice yoga, mindfulness. 

What is the best life advice you have been given?

Don’t judge a book by its cover. 

Favourite travel destination for Grounding yourself?

India, closely followed by Bali. 

One city must-do travel tip?

Ah to travel again! When in Europe (and the states for that matter!), scout out the cafes run by Aussie expats, you’ll be sure to find decent coffee. I recall being in Berlin with my husband and daughter a few years ago, bellies full, we stumbled across a café with Vegemite in the window display. We were intrigued, it was run by Aussie expats, and it was the best coffee we experienced in all of Europe. Also wherever you are travelling, be sure to use public transport to really immerse yourself and soak up the culture.