Meet My Lady Garden Founder, Kaiva Kaimins
Let's make money, honey: £250bn would be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled businesses at the same rate as men. We're big believers in 'if you see it, you can be it' and spotlighting female founders who make our hearts sing and our wallets open immediately.
Speaking of which, we're suckers for a gigantic, gram-worthy bunch of flowers (and we're not alone: here in the UK, over £2bn a year is spent on floral arrangements big and small!). So, mix yourself a glass of something suitably fresh and let’s get it on with the floral artist you need to be following on IG: swoon-worthy content creator, Kaiva Kimmins of My Lady Garden.
We first discovered Kai in our feed and fell in love with her neon bright, ultra-cool take on flowers instantly. These aren't the stuffy bunches you'd get on your doorstep in the 90s, or overly prissy arrangements suitable for old school hotel lobbies. This is floristry infused with the spirit of Dalston via Australia: banging tunes on a baking summer afternoon, orange wine in to-go cups and a GANNI collar fluttering in warm summer breeze. The love story continued when she took on our Condoms and Lube in an ultra-romantic, oil painting-esque shoot that frankly, belongs in the National Gallery. Meet the future of floristry...
Let's start where all conversations should... with a vagina pun. My Lady Garden is a brilliant brand name. Where did the idea come from?
"It all began with a bottle of wine, and two pals on a Friday night. I needed a business name as I was just starting out, and wanted something botanical and very memorable - the ideas were flowing and we somehow got onto the idea of “Sir/Lady”. One of us blurted it out, and MLG was born!"
From classical comparisons of flowers and virginity to artist Georgia O'Keeffe's impressionist takes on blooms, there's long been a fascination with drawing parallels between vulvas and florals. Do you think they're inherently erotic?
"I really do, and this is probably why I love the “innuendo” of My Lady Garden. Flowers are super sensual, from the textures and colours to how they’ve been represented in art over the years. If you’re looking from a literal perspective, some even have shapes which often are associated as being phallic/yonic - often these are anthuriums or phalaenopsis orchids! I adore this element of working with flowers!"
From the initial concept to getting up and running: what were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of starting your own business?
"I began operating out of my home in the early days, to keep my overhead cost down! This was super testing but kept me motivated to work towards a bigger space in the long run. To keep myself afloat, I still freelanced and worked part-time (at one point, I was working at Chick’n’Sours!) - so days would often start very early, and finish really late. We also moved to New York for 2 years in the middle of it all, which felt like having to uproot and start again...then again when I came back to London. I’ve been back for just over a year now, and WHAT a year it has been! Despite the challenges of starting up in multiple countries, it’s been incredibly rewarding with the people I've met, and the broad networks I now have! So it’s been equally challenging, and rewarding!"
As founders, we've all had to think fast and make tough decisions as the world changed around us. How did you pivot your business model in response to COVID?
"It honestly happened overnight! When COVID-19 first started affecting businesses, it was right around Mother’s Day (UK). I decided that, due to all my events and weddings for the month being postponed/cancelled I would try out fresh flower deliveries - and what an overwhelmingly supportive response! There was clearly a demand so I continued every week...cut to six weeks later, and I’m selling out each week!
It was mainly about looking at new ways to adapt in order to survive as a business - I didn’t really have any other option! As well as deliveries, I have created virtual workshops which I host via ZOOM each week, and now have a merchandise range with new items dropping every few weeks - including an adult colouring book, MLG candle, bucket hat and other apparel!"
Inspiration can be found all around us, and we've been loving your playlists. What are your top three songs for getting us out of a slump?
- Estrelar - Marcus Valle (I genuinely think if MLG had a theme tune, it would be this)
- Nomalizo - Letta Mbulu
- Cola Bottle Baby - Edwin Birdsong
Take us inside your mind. From your site to the florals on your dreamy feed, we're loving the MLG aesthetic. Where do you draw creative inspiration?
"Currently, I'm drawing inspiration from citrus fruits (SO zingy!), Aperol Spritz, and a LOT of 90s cult classics films. I try to find images that I’m really drawn to with their mood/colours, and interpret them through my flowers!"
One for the lovers (including self-lovers). Which My Lady Garden bunch should we be sending to our crush?
"Ooft. Depends what they're like! Romantic? Send the Peony Lady Garden. Something to impress? The Signature Lady Garden (maybe even throw in a MLG candle too, for extra ambience..!)."
Let's have a manifestation moment... Where do you see My Lady Garden in five years time?
"Oh goodness, I could go on...I envision a large studio, with retail space at the front which is open to the public, and space at the back for all wedding and event work. Super sleek, a nice tiled workbench with all the flowers available in the front, as well as a workspace for all the delivery/orders. Super large windows, bright light - disco blaring! Maybe even on a monthly transforming the space and hosting disco/music nights. Or a MLG deli at the front with seasonal produce, I’d love to combine my love for food with flowers somehow!"
Time for a cheeky quick fire round:
- WISTERIA OR PEONIES? Wisteria
- LOVE LETTER OR VOICE NOTE? Voice note
- SWEETPEAS OR RANUNCULUS? Sweet peas
- DINNER DATE OR DRINKS? Dinner date (with drinks!)
- FIRE NEONS OR SOFT PASTELS? Both, clashing!
- TIM TAMS OR BOURBON BISCUITS? Tim Tams - obviously!
- Inspired? Shop Kai's beautiful bunches at My Lady Garden
- In the entrepreneurial mood? Meet HANX Co-Founders, Farah and Sarah, here