The Wilde Bunch
Published on 23 May 2018
While you’re still tucked up in bed at 4:30am, Tracey Gilligan is on her way to work. The wholesale flower market is a lot closer since it moved to Epping from Footscray, but she still rises well before the birds.
“I’ve been going to the wholesale market for about five years,” she says. “I’ve finally worked out a good system when it comes to the different suppliers for the different items. Some people are better at [growing] roses, others at azaleas, so I pick and choose. It usually takes me about an hour, an hour and a half depending how much stuff I need to get.”
Tracey owns The Wilde Bunch Florist in Hurstbridge. It’s one of The Artisan Hills’ most beautiful stores, drawn from 32 years in the flower industry, half of those with one of Melbourne’s most renowned florists, Kevin O’Neil.
“He did all the high society jobs,” Tracey recalls. “We did a lot of work for the Skase family, Lindsay Fox, the Smorgons and many other well-to-do clients. It was quite a renowned store [O’Neil’s store was in trendy South Yarra, a trying commute from Wattle Glen each day] and in the 80’s we were given massive budgets to do these lavish arrangements. It’s where I learnt the best parts of what I do.”
Kevin died in 1997. After a short period with his partner, keeping the store alive, Tracey moved on, moonlighting with several florists before settling in Hurstbridge, a welcome four-minute drive from home. “After spending my entire working life travelling from Wattle Glen to South Yarra, Richmond and the CBD, it was about time I did something close to home,' she says. “It’s a very luxurious scenario now”. (Save for the 4:30am starts, one would imagine)?
“I have a lot of regular clients who come in and see me, some on a weekly basis. Many are like me, they like their flowers, they know their flowers, they enjoy their flowers, and they have an understanding of gardening and flowers. The locals have slowly gotten to know me, which is nice, and they are return customers, which is even better. My social media stuff helps.”
This ‘stuff’, in fact, is proving a boon for The Wilde Bunch. With the help of her three grown-up daughters, all active in the business, Tracey has turned the highly visual Instagram platform into a community building, business-generating tool.
“I find Instagram a fantastic source of inspiration and a really good way of getting across what you do. There’s nothing better than being able to see something on the other side of the world.” You can follow The Wilde Bunch on Instagram @thewildebunch.
The Wilde Bunch, 799 Heidelberg-Kinglake Road, Hurstbridge
03 9718 2565