The Shopkeepers

The Quiet Botanist - In conversation with Rebecca O’Donnell 

What makes The Quiet Botanist so unique? 
The Quiet Botanist was born out of a desire to slow down and listen. It draws inspiration from apothecaries of a bygone era, wild–harvested Australian botanicals and overgrown European gardens. I think what makes the shop unique is that it’s a sensorial experience: you can smell the store from the street before you walk down the alley to the front door, and then when you enter you are surrounded by large displays of varying botanicals, with much to explore. The Quiet Botanist believes in slow retail – there is no rush and no push to buy, but only to take your time and smell the flowers. The hope is that our customers have a nurturing experience when they visit us.

 Why did you chose The Quiet Botanist name?
The name evolved over Thanksgiving dinner with my extended family. I wanted something that described the feeling I had for the project. I hoped it would evoke a mood of both nostalgia and hope – I think we all aspire to connect more with nature. I grew up in Australia and have lived in London and New York as a Creative Director, but even in urban environments I’ve always been called to the natural world. The idea of The Quiet Botanist came quite effortlessly, and it seemed the perfect character to embody, the aspiration I hope to grow into.

 What are The Quiet Botanist’s best-selling products? 
Our Bouquets – The Aussie Botanist & The Scarlet Botanist are the most popular. Customers love our edible flower mixes because of the endless possibilities for custom cocktails and teas and baking decorations. Our floral confetti is ever-popular. And of course, we also create many custom arrangements and bespoke installations.

Where do you source the flowers and products for The Quiet Botanist? 
We grow our flowers and buy locally whenever possible, and source the rest from wholesalers. In the Spring of 2021 we are expanding and will grow more of our own flowers at our farm which is about ten minutes from the store.  The goal is to eventually grow and dry everything ourselves. I don’t have a background in floral design, only an intuitive sense of what pairs and flows and complements, repeating many of the patterns I’ve seen in nature. When I make the arrangements, I’m creating spontaneously and that is one of the most rewarding parts of the creative process – a unique collaboration with the botanicals I have on hand. We source our beauty and wellness products from conscious and clean brands from around the world. I believe in all the products we stock, the integrity of the makers, and the effort to avoid plastics whenever possible.

Who are The Quiet Botanist customers? 
We have a lovely mix of locals, many of whom are transplants from Brooklyn, NYC and LA. Our weekend crowd consists of people from all over coming up to visit the shops and restaurants. Our online customers are mainly from California, Florida, Texas and Oregon. We have a lot of Aussie’s and Parisiens as well.

How has the internet impacted your business? 
We have had a wonderful response to our Instagram content as well as the photos of the flower wall and the ever-changing installations in the shop. The platform has become an online community because we can keep in touch with customers after they purchase flowers in the store and see how they arrange them at home. Of course, our online store has been important during the pandemic as we’ve limited in-store capacity and many people are no longer venturing out. Many of our online purchases are often gifts – we write notes on behalf of the purchaser and send them out daily. It’s so nice to witness and be a part of this generosity in some way. 

Have you adapted your business to the coronavirus pandemic? 
Before Covid we had a treatment room where we offered bespoke CBD healing massages. People would travel up from New York and spend the whole afternoon, drinking tea and making a bouquet of flowers. Due to the pandemic we closed the treatment room and we limited our customer interactions.We put all the safety measures in place including screens and limiting people into our space. Over the holidays we opened our front window and created a Flower Tuckshop which was a great way to engage with our community at a safe distance.

 Read the full interview here.