Former police officer cultivates a rewarding career change
AFTER a stint on the police force left Stacey Gillies feeling burnt out, the South Burnett local wasn't afraid of getting her hands dirty in order to forge out a new career path.
With her young family in tow, the keen grower has turned her love of flora and fauna into a small flower business, Petal and Herb Farm.
Fond childhood memories of frolicking around the garden with her parents on the weekends gave Mrs Gillies the inspiration and knowledge to start up her own flower farm.
"Being in an area that lends itself to growing, it was a natural progression of taking an interest and turning it into something else." Mrs Gillies said.
"It was also important for me to be at home with my children.
"I think that is something that drives a lot of women.
"They take up a home-based business or change careers when they have children because they want to spend time with their kids and also manage some type of income.
"It's certainly been a lovely bonus."
Mrs Gillies said her floral creations offered more than just their eye-catching aesthetics.
"Sometimes when you talk about flowers, people might think they are just flowers," Mrs Gillies said.
"But when you stop and think about it, they are something that can really connect people.
"When you have a significant life experience, it's almost always the number-one thing you go to to celebrate someone's life, birthdays, marriages and just to show someone you love and care for them.
"Even sometimes in life's not-so-great moments, they are used to console somebody.
"I think they make up a beautiful part of life."
One example of how Mrs Gillies' floral creations helped a family through a tough time came about after a local follower contacted her to ask if she could assemble the flowers for her nan's funeral.
She said the woman's nan had two great loves: English cut cottage-style flowers and tea cups.
Being able to provide the woman with buckets of flowers to place into her nan's beloved tea cup collection for the funeral was a touching moment for the local grower.
As well as honouring those lost, Mrs Gillies is a big advocate for protecting the future of those to come.
Mrs Gillies focuses on producing chemical-free flowers and using holistic farming methods, and said she was also passionate about reducing her impact on the earth.
"I don't use any plastics and even the rubber bands on the bunches are biodegradable," she said.
"I have been unrelenting or uncompromising in certain aspects of what I do, certainly in refusing to use plastics and the arranging is all foam free, so I've had to sometimes reject work.
"It does take people by surprise but I feel like we owe it to ourselves and our children.
"Sometimes we have to inconvenience ourselves a little bit to make that difference."
Specialising in market bunches, garden-inspired boutiques and herbal bouquets, as well as weddings decorations, edible flowers, Mrs Gillies believes perfection is actually found in the opposite.
"Ultimately, flowers are actually imperfect," she said.
"My style is still evolving but I do like the undone look.
"I like your wildflower type of look, with some classic flowers and then all ruffled up a bit."
As a dedicated mother to small children, April, 5, and Jasper, six months old, Mrs Gillies said she had learned to become more of a realist when it came to what she could achieve.
While dividing her time between Moffatdale and Goomeri with her husband, David, and their young family, the pair is currently putting in place infrastructure on their property to be able to grow more flowers.
In the next 12 months, Mrs Gillies hopes to be able to offer flowers to local florists and open her business up to the public.
Mrs Gillies said choosing what to grow on her farm came naturally, yet it was always a matter of what was in season and what would flourish in Queensland's climate.
"I have some pretty sweet childhood memories of Mum growing a lot of what I grow now," she said.
"It's been really beautiful to be sharing the same things I did with my mum with my children."
"And now I'm just trying to do my bit."
To contact Mrs Gillies for floral creations, visit Petal and Herb Farm's Facebook page.