Kristen McKee at Fleurs de Villes
Factotum Communication’s very own Kristen McKee is set to wow the world when the internationally-renowned Fleurs de Villes opens in Sydney tonight.
She’s been selected as one of the harbour city’s favourite florists to be part of the global launch of Fleurs de Villes PRIDE – a floral celebration of joy and inclusivity, presented as part of Sydney WorldPride Pride Amplified.
“The honour of being involved in an internationally recognisable exhibition is quite thrilling,” she said.
“It gives me an amazing platform to display my creative style.
“I feel very fortunate to be one of only a handful of Sydney florists who will have their work on show to the public!”
When the exhibition opens this evening, Ms McKee will reveal a mannequin donned in fresh florals to recreate one of 15 influential figures chosen for their contributions to LGBTQIA+ community and culture.
Her subject is author, gay history documenter, researcher and life-long activist, Peter de Waal. He is one of the group known as the “78ers” – the participants of the first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade and demonstrations in 1978 — and has been awarded an OAM for his advocacy work within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Other figures include pop superstar Kylie Minogue, renowned drag queen and TV personality Courtney Act, and Paralympian bronze medalist Robyn Lambird.
The PRIDE champions will be on display at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney from February 17 to 26 – a full ten days, during which time Ms McKee must keep the blooms adorning her figure fresh.
“It’s a huge creative, logistical and floristic challenge, but I am so looking forward to it,” she said.
Ms McKee is a long way from her roots in Ballarat, where many in the performing arts scene will remember the former Ballarat and Clarendon College student for musical and theatrical performances with Constance Coward Lemke’s music school, the Ballarat Light Opera Company the Royal South Street Eisteddfod.
While she still tries to get home to visit family in Ballarat as much as possible, her heart is now in Sydney, where she launched her floristry business two years ago during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Starting with bespoke “Booze and Blooms” deliveries that immediately surged in popularity, Ms McKee has continued to carve her own space into the Sydney marketplace, with her floral designs now highly sought after for weddings, corporate events and celebrations across the NSW capital city.
Her foray into floristry is a sharp contrast to her original training in Opera and Performing Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, but career changes are nothing new to Ms McKee.
After completing her studies in Melbourne, Ms McKee returned to Ballarat to undertake a nursing degree that would go on to see her specialise in hepatology. She took her specialist knowledge overseas and spent eight years working in London hospitals, before returning to Sydney to live.
While working at one of Sydney’s largest hospitals, the creative juices began to flow and Ms McKee started to explore floristry in her spare time.
She began studying floristry in 2020, but still retained her role in the health workforce.
At one point, she would hit the Sydney flower market at 5am, take her flower stocks to work at the hospital and hide them in her office‘s freezing cold storeroom, then carefully take the blooms home at the end of her shift to arrange and deliver them.
Today, Ms McKee still works one day a week in a hospital and continues to specialise in hepatology. She is also Vice President of the Australasian Hepatology Association.
“Nursing holds a special place in my heart, but my passion and future lies in floristry,” she said.
“Being part of Fleurs de Villes PRIDE exhibition means so much. I am building my business on strong values that include diversity and inclusivity, and improving sustainability in floristry is also very important to my business.
“My mannequin and display will be sustainable, there will be absolutely no floral foam.”
To see her creation, follow Kris McKee Floral Design on Instagram @kris.floraldesign, visit her website www.krismckeefloraldesign.com or get along to the Calyx building in the Royal Botanic Gardens before Sunday, February 26. Book in for this floral extravaganza by clicking right here.