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Creative freedom brings Mereana to floristry

Mereana Wyatt-Old brought her pursuit of a creative career to TAFE Queensland to learn how to design inspired spaces, but her passion for floristry saw her change course.

Initially enrolled in the Diploma of Interior Design (MSF50218), Mereana felt her ability to express herself creatively was limited, so she pivoted to a Certificate III in Floristry (SFL30115).

“I was studying interior design, but I didn’t like it as it wasn’t as creative as I expected or as hands-on or give me the creative freedom as forestry would,” explained Mereana.

“My mum was a florist, and I always wanted to study floristry, but I didn’t know much about the industry and didn’t think there was much job security, but mum thought I'd be a good florist, and mums are always right, so I just tried it.”

Working as an apprentice at an award-winning full-service floral design studio, Maison Fleur Floral Design, Mereana attends block training at TAFE Queensland’s South Bank campus, which sees her enhance her floral design skills.

Mereana works on perfecting her craft in the classroom's industry-standard facilities and equipment, allowing her to cut and arrange the flowers and greenery she'd selected into decorative displays.

From bouquets, wreaths, and terrariums, Mereana uses industry-standard trimmers, shapers, wire, pins, floral tape and foam to create floral designs using advanced floristry techniques.

She then takes these techniques back to her work as a floristry apprentice to express her creativity through the medium of flowers using the skills she learns from her teachers.

“My teacher, Lyn Philip, is amazing. She’s very kind and creates a perfect learning environment for everybody,” explained Mereana.

“She mentors and teaches new skills by giving constructive feedback on arrangements while challenging her students to think of more creative ways to design elegant and stylish bouquets using seasonal flowers. She is a fantastic teacher.”

During Mereana’s training blocks, she meets other passionate floristry apprentices who help to enhance her knowledge and encourage her.

“Every block I've been to, I've met new people each time, which is cool because when you're a new trainee in the industry, you're not surrounded by people your age. So, coming into the TAFE blocks, meeting new people every single time, and it's cool,” continued Mereana.

With her floristry skills and confidence at an all-time high, Mereana is testing herself against the best floristry apprentices in the state by competing in the WorldSkills Queensland Regional Competition.

Held in Brisbane in April 2024, the regional competition will see Mereana and other apprentices complete hands-on assignments creating floral displays in a time-pressure environment, putting their technical floristry skills and ability on display for assessment.

Winners of the regional contests may represent Queensland at the national competition, where they can represent Australia in their respective trade.

Mereana is relaxed about competing in regional competitions and looks forward to using the skills she has developed during her studies and putting them into practice at her workplace.

“I just want to enjoy it, play with flowers and have fun - hopefully, it's the first competition of many. I'm just excited to make something, and while I'm not competitive, I do want to experience the whole-time limit aspect of being a florist and getting judged on what I can make and create,” she said.

Mereana recommends that anyone wanting to become a florist study with TAFE Queensland credits the teachers' industry talents, experience, and passion for giving her the confidence, knowledge, and skills to thrive in the industry.

"TAFE Queensland genuinely cares about the next generation of florists, and anyone contemplating a career in this field should consider coming here."

“It's such a great environment, and every time I come to class, I'm learning new techniques, testing my skills and getting constructive feedback that’s helped me so much,” she concluded.