Sophie Kurylowicz has turned a lifelong love of flowers into an occupation, adding little splashes of colour to Wagga through her curiously named shop, Little Triffids Flowers.
She did not set out to be a florist, but after schooling in the UK and working in theatre in Sydney, the Riverina called her home.
Born in Wagga, Sophie moved to England when she was 10, and her love of flowers and gardening blossomed while living with her grandparents.
“I was always interested in flowers and was definitely one of those kids that picked the neighbour’s flowers over the fence,” Sophie said.
“I always liked arranging things and made little scenes in my room … there’s always been a bit of a creative side to me.
“We lived in my grandparents’ beautiful Kent home and they were both passionate gardeners,” she said.
Staying on to complete school in the UK, Sophie found her grandparents’ home to be a happy and inspiring place.
“It’s where my love of gardens sparked and definitely formed my aesthetics in terms of what I’m into, which is English cottage garden style natural flowers,” she said.
On returning to Australia, Sophie studied theatre production at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney and worked in the industry for about 10 years.
After the hustle and bustle of the city, it was the desire for an affordable home (and a dog) that prompted her and her husband Tim to return to the Riverina.
“We ended up moving back to Wagga, which when I was 18, I didn’t think I would do, but at 28 it felt like a good thing to do,” she said.
With a job at CSU and a quarter-acre backyard, the couple started growing vegetables and flowers and planned to expand.
“It was a really exciting time, but six weeks after moving into our house in North Wagga we got flooded in 2012,” Sophie said.
“We ended up living with my parents for the rest of the year and while we were waiting for the insurance company to fix our house, we worked on the garden.
“That’s when (post flooding) things got more serious with the gardening,” she said.
Floristry was not initially on the cards and instead, the owner of Little Triffids Flowers aspired to become a flower farmer.
As a business idea began to germinate, John Wyndham’s iconic apocalyptic novel The Day of the Triffids provided the name.
“It’s a sci-fi novel from the 1950s about killer plants taking over the world and it’s one of my favourite books.
“I wanted something different to all the pun/cutesy/floral florist names out there,” she said.
“I used to sell wholesale to other florists and flower subscriptions and then it changed over time … I don’t do either of those things anymore,” she said.
“Now I just do my floristry and still grow a lot of my own flowers. It’s a small flower farm and I grow small amounts of a lot of varieties,” Sophie said.
The flower farmer mainly focuses on growing plants that she can’t purchase in bulk, delicate plants that don’t travel well and those that give a different aesthetic to her arrangements, such as dahlias, cosmos, nigellas, forget-me-nots and foxgloves.
“It’s important in business to find your point of difference, being true to your own style and finding your own niche in the market.”
Sophie says flowers bring her happiness and she loves what blooming plants mean to others.
“It’s sentimental for people and flowers are present in the most important parts of people’s lives.”
As for picking a favourite flower, Sophie said that would be like choosing a favourite child!
Little Triffids Flowers is situated at 1/30 Fitzmaurice Street, Wagga Wagga and it’s open Monday, Tuesday and Saturday, 9 am to 2 pm and Wednesday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.