Beautiful scents waft from the doorway of Taupō’s XOX Floral. Dried arrangements hang from the ceiling in various states of readiness, and fresh blooms line the walls. XOX is a florist with a difference. Each stem is either foraged from spots around Taupō or sourced from a local grower. The seasonal bouquets are filled with unique colours and textures that could have come straight from your nan’s garden. In the industry it is common for florists use imported flowers, plastic foam, and plastic wrap in their bouquets. Flowers can have wires inserted in their stems and blooms are sometimes spray-painted to create a particular look. Owner Kristen Somerville was keen to find a different approach. “Sustainability is a big focus for me. We avoid anything that can’t be composted or easily recycled” says Kristen. “I like to think that once our bouquets have reached the end of their life they can be put back into the earth. I source directly from local growers and know the origin of each stem.” Foraged florals and the sustainable floristry movement is growing internationally. “When I first started out I thought I was the only one using foraged wildflowers commercially. But I’ve since found a small but growing number of florists who are doing the same. It’s great to share ideas and inspiration with each other” says Kristen. Recently there has been an increased demand for Kristen’s dried flower arrangements. “I’ve had customers come from as far away as Fielding and Wellington for my arrangements. I also get orders from people holidaying in Taupō who are looking for something a little different” says Kristen. Organisations like Enterprise Great Lake Taupō (EGLT) and Taupō Business Chamber have offered local support. “EGLT’s Accelerate Programme has helped me plan my business growth. There are definitely some seasonal fluctuations in Taupō, so I’ve put a bit of work into my online business to allow for this. It’s also been a chance to connect with other businesses in a similar growth phase” says Kristen. Kristen loves the relaxed lifestyle of Taupō and enjoys the balance of work and family life. “It’s a great meeting point for those travelling through from north or south. It’s a really vibrant spot – there is a lot happening here.” says Kristen.