The seed that blossomed into Poems & Posies was planted around Christmas over two years ago, when Maggie Coker and Jasmin Lünstroth started sending each other mood boards. Maggie, the co-owner of Rag and Boneman, was looking for new challenges and a breath of fresh air and creativity, and Jasmin came along at the right time. Self proclaimed ‘doers’, the boss ladies dove into their new craft, heads and hearts first, and started carving out their business idea, allowing it to organically sprout and flower, much like an untamed wildflower. Their passion has brought them to do do projects in places like Soho House and Pauly Saal, to decorate weddings in more or less remote locations around Berlin and has put their faces in magazines like Neon and L’Officiel, to mention some.
What made you decide to work with dried flowers?
[Maggie] The idea of dried flowers was something that happened organically. When we started working together we realised that we were both drawn to dried flowers and wildflowers. Both Jasmin and I are natural ‘keepers’, or hoarders [laughing] and we find it hard to let go of things. The same thing was the case with the flowers; we hung onto them and let them dry, and realised we really liked the look of them dried. It also went well with our concept because we wanted to do something different with flowers than what everyone else were doing. We’re not reinventing the wheel in any way, but we are vintage-ladies and we hold on to stuff, so it was a natural direction.
So basically you were just holding on to the flowers until they died and dried?
[M] Yes. We’re the same in that we cherish things that are ageing. We like old things and appreciate their character. We have much more love for old than new things, so yes, it was a natural process. We also care about sustainability and hate throwing things away or being wasteful for vain and glamorous reasons.
Both Jasmin and I are natural ‘keepers’, or hoarders and we find it hard to let go of things. The same thing was the case with the flowers; we hung onto them and let them dry, and realised we really liked the look of them dried.
Can you explain your business in a couple of paragraphs?
[M] Poems and Posies represents a lifestyle, giving people something they’re missing—feelings of nostalgia and romance. People who want to draw outside the lines, come to us and see something and realise that this is what they’ve been missing. We don’t wish to be conservative and formal, we want something wild. In less abstract terms, we offer fashion, interior, event design and consultation, centred around flowers. In doing this, we often collaborate with other local companies and products to offer unique solutions.
[Jasmin] One example of our collaborators is Albatross—a new Berlin based artisan bakery. The owner Luke is a good friend of mine and he bakes the most delicious sourdough bread. He also bakes cakes, and sometimes I assist him. Baking with him feels similar to what we’re doing with our work; it’s all about the craft—it’s an art. As with pottery and other handcraft, you have to have a certain touch. Luke’s approach to baking is very traditional and he uses all the nice, old wooden tools.
[M] His mindset is also similar to ours. He’s very knowledgable, talented—and self taught. There’s a passion behind what he does, an appreciation for hard work, creativity and a wish to truly master the craft. There’s an understanding between us because we share the same struggles and passions. He sees what we’re doing and he gets it, and vice versa. Those are the kinds of people we like to work with.
[J] This kind of work and craft touches a spot in people that is longing to slow down and go back to old ways of doing things.
[M] Slowing down and really touching things is important. Because we work in front of a screen all the time, we get so much of our emotional connections via our smartphones and laptops. Here, people can come in to shop, or just sit amongst all the dried flowers, and they love it!
[J] It’s the combination of all of it together; the look, the feeling, the smell.
I was about to comment on the smell, and that it’s a shame that it can’t be conveyed through this interview. As someone who used to ride horses, the smell of dried straw really makes me feel really nostalgic.
This kind of work and craft touches a spot in people that is longing to slow down and go back to old ways of doing things.
When you first started, you would deliver bouquets of dried flowers with poetry attached to them by bike. How has your idea developed?
[M] This is definitely part of what we do, but a lot has happened since then. Jasmin and I are ‘doers’ and we started with a quite open business plan. So until we have the funds to sustain a small fleet of bike deliverers, that part of it is staying on the back burner, but we always integrate poetry in what we do, and we often post poems as part of our social media posts as well.
Here’s one that is symbolic of the year that just passed, from one of our favourite poets Nayyirah Waheed:
In our own ways
we all break
it is okay
to hold your heart outside of your body
at a time.
Slowing down and really touching things is important. Because we work in front of a screen all the time, we get so much of our emotional connections via our smartphones and laptops.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve done since you started?
[J] We were part of the H&M showroom, last January, and it was a great experience!
[M] Yes, that was pretty rad! And the Alpaca farm—we did a wedding at an alpaca farm two hours outside of Berlin. The response from the bride and groom was so great, and it was so beautiful to be there and prepare the wedding on site, with people who really wanted us to be there—we were invited to eat with them and be part of the whole wedding. We did the floral design, but in the future we hope to do the full package.
[J] The funny thing was that normally we’re in the city, trying to create a feeling of being in the countryside. Here we were in the countryside…
[M] The couple and the guests were ‘city-people,’ so they brought the city to the country in a way. The attire was country, but the decor was really sparkly and they played hard techno—it was a great mix, and beautiful people!
[J] We also did the decor for a wedding at the acclaimed Berlin restaurant Pauly Saal, which was really exciting.
[M] Yes, that one was really nice. The palette there is perfect and it came out really nice!
[J] Yes, it’s always a fun challenge to adjust each project to a new place. The colors at Pauly Saal are green and red, and we worked on matching and complimenting that.
[M] And in a place like that, you can’t go full country because it’s more sophisticated. Challenges like that pushes us out of our comfort zones, while still remaining true to our style.
[J] We also decorated Twin Pigs (bar in Neukölln) last year, and a friend recognised it and asked me if we had done it. That’s the best compliment—when people recognise your work!
Are there benefits to working with dried flowers, apart from the fact that they are beautiful and you have a love for old things.
[M] They are more sustainable, and also more affordable because you don’t have to change them each week. I guess, if I was a shrewd business person, I wouldn’t use that as a selling point, but I think it can also work to our benefit, and we work on plugging it. We walk into so many cafes where the flowers look terrible because people don’t make the effort to take care of them or change them often enough. I often approach the owners and tell them, ‘hey, we do dried flowers and we can help you out’.
Twin Pigs is an example of this. The owners have no idea about flowers and it was sad to see, because it’s such a beautiful pub. After we helped them out, it looks beautiful in there.
We walk into so many cafes where the flowers look terrible because people don’t make the effort to take care of them or change them often enough. I often approach the owners and tell them, ‘hey, we do dried flowers and we can help you out’.
You mentioned you also make boutonnieres. Can you tell us more about the products and services you offer?
[M] Apart from bouquets and arrangements, we decorate interiors and all kinds of events, make boutonnieres, wedding bouquets and flower crowns. We also offer workshops, allowing people to feel and smell flowers and just get them to relax and disconnect from everything that’s going on in their lives.
When we give flower crown making workshops, people completely zone out and get fixated on their task, allowing Jasmin and I to just stand back and watch. It’s so therapeutic to use your hands and focus on something tactile. We’d like to focus more on this area and get people in a room that are usually stuck in front of a computer all day.
[J] It’s also amazing to see kids get really into it. Especially those who are living in the city and don’t get out in nature all the time. For smaller kids, it’s a great parent, child bonding experience.
You’re two strong independent women,working in a community of other equally impressive women. Can you say something about this community and how it affects your work?
[M] We’re part of a really dynamic, strong workforce of women that are very supportive. But it’s not easy. It can be quite challenging to work with women all the time, as we’re all very expressive and we talk a lot—sometimes too much, leading to things getting said that shouldn’t and has to get worked out. On the positive side, we learn so much from each other and we feel very supported.
There are so many amazing women in this city that have inspired me—many are my secret mentors that I admire and wish to be like one day. Berlin is an innovative city for women entrepreneurs and creatives. I think we are daring and we take risks.
The women in our community are like strong pillars, supporting and propping each other up.
[J] There’s also a true sense of community, free of competition. Our fellow vintage store owners, Jule from Repeater and Sandra from Veist are our friends and we visit and shop at each other’s stores.
[M] Yes, we trade and borrow and ask each other when we’re looking for something special.
[J] It feels like living in a village—everyone is helping each other.
The women in our community are like strong pillars, supporting and propping each other up.
Rather than holding others down in order stand out, I firmly believe that the more we support each other as a community, the stronger we all get. Speaking of, Maggie, you are also the brain behind the Neukölln Schatzkarte, which whole idea is to showcase the often disperse and hidden gems in the neighbourhood, and by grouping them all together, making the neighbourhood more appealing to visit.
[M] Yes, I like to look at it like the mechanics of a car. If one part stops working, the whole car will stop running as a result. In our community, we’re all equally important parts of this machinery, and with one of us failing, all of us suffer.
Do you have anything new going on or planned for the future?
[J] We are really working towards getting more jobs where we do all aspect of the decor and interior, and not just bringing the flowers. Sometimes it feels frustrating to only do one aspect and being forced to work with what’s already there, because we always have a vision of how everything can work together.
[M] We mentioned Albatross before as a collaboration and we did a great catering event with them for a staff dinner for Aesop. We also started working with Happy Baristas last year, and did a great book reading event with them and their amazing drinks. It’s important for us to build relationships with people who make really high quality products, to be able to offer the full package. To have beautiful decor and mediocre food and drinks is a pity. People recognise quality.
[J] We’ve also aligned ourselves with Nadine from Zins, the hair salon on Thomasstraße (down the street). She’ll send brides here that are looking for flowers and we send our customers to get their hair done there. Her salon is beautiful and the details are perfect. She also uses all organic products.
[M] As for further future plans, we’d like to get even more into working with interiors and help with consultation for people who don’t feel good in their apartments anymore. Flowers and plants can give a new energy and life to an apartment. More than working as a personal shopper and getting a bunch of new things, we like to help people figure out what they can do with what is already there.
And of course, we are still into fashion and I love mixing fashion and flowers as well. Vintage, fashion and flowers—and world domination!
Interior, fashion, flowers and world domination—sounds great!
[M] And romance! That’s not to much to ask is it?
In our community, we’re all equally important parts of this machinery, and with one of us failing, all of us suffer.