For Wild Cosmo owner Loren Telfer, heading back to her hometown to contribute to the community she grew up in was always a key goal. Like many others, Loren and her partner found themselves reassessing their priorities during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. So when the couple found themselves stood down from their jobs, they decided to pack up and return to Old Bar, New South Wales (a beachside town located on the Mid North Coast), to launch Wild Cosmo. Initially starting out from Telfer's garage, the flower shop-meets-coffee-shop has developed into an inviting oasis for locals over the last year.
"Wild Cosmo is about creating magical and artful blooms. Focusing on soft, romantic arrangements, we love allowing our creativity to flow each day," said owner Loren Telfer. "We are not only here for flowers; we are here for passion, kindness and a little bit of edge," she says explaining the ethos behind the shop.
While the pandemic has meant various unforeseen challenges for business owners, Telfer and her partner have managed to foster a bustling community spanning generations in their town. Here's a further look into their story.
Refinery29 Australia: How did Wild Cosmo start?
Loren Telfer: I'd always dreamt of opening my own florist store and coffee shop — the idea followed me throughout my life. Over the past four to five years, I'd always play around with flowers and make arrangements at home for friends and family. However, it wasn't until I moved back to my hometown, Old Bar, that Wild Cosmo came to fruition.
Amidst the first wave of COVID-19, my partner and I were living in Sydney. We were both stood down from our jobs and decided to make the move back to Old Bar. For some, opportunities and jobs in regional areas can be hard to come by, especially for creative souls. So it became apparent that if I wanted to do something meaningful to me, I needed to create that opportunity for myself.
As soon as we moved back in May of 2020, I got stuck into creating a home studio in my garage. I started sourcing flowers and creating for our local community. I used the portable Square reader and connected it to my phone (which we've continued to use in our retail space). This was great as I delivered flowers straight to people's doors and could take payment upon delivery if needed.
The response from the community was amazing — it was really exciting for everyone to have something new and fresh be a part of the area, and there was a gap in the market for what I was offering. Mind you, my style has evolved immensely since I started and feel as though I am on my way to finding my groove as a florist and creative.
By August 2020, I had decided to move on from the garage and open a shopfront. So we opened our Wild Cosmo store at the end of September 2020, and here we are today. We are not only a retail florist but a coffee shop serving some of the best coffee in the area, as well as a retail space focusing on showcasing other Australian brands and businesses.
Refinery29 Australia: What are the best things about running a business in a rural community?
Loren Telfer: It is so unbelievably rewarding to have a small business in a rural area. We have been shown so much continued support from our local community.
I lived out of the area on and off for the past ten years — from North Queensland to the Gold Coast, then Sydney. Coming home was always a given, and I knew I wanted to bring something new to the area business-wise when I came back.
In the past two years, the Mid-Coast has been through testing times, from deadly bushfires and COVID-19 to record-breaking floods. There is so much resilience in our local community, and everyone pulls together in tough times. It's really heartwarming.
We source locally where we can — we have some really beautiful flower farmers in our area: Natalie and Gary from Garnet Estate (Hillsville), Elena from Blooms with a View (Mondrook) and Pam from Boho Floral Farm (Moorland), just to name a few.
We also take advantage of Newcastle and Hunter Valley suppliers and the Sydney Flower Markets, where we have a wonderful person who picks up our orders each week.
There is so much resilience in our local community and everyone pulls together in tough times. It’s really heartwarming.
Loren Telfer - Owner, Wild Cosmo
Refinery29 Australia: How would you describe your relationship with your customers?
Loren Telfer: I absolutely love my customers and value each and every person who walks through our doors. We have wonderful regulars who I have connected with so much that I now consider them friends.
I have formed many great relationships with people who initially have been clients — from serving them their daily dose of coffee to styling their weddings and creating their beautiful arrangements regularly. I don't think I have ever really felt such a connection with a community anywhere else I have lived.
We have beautiful people who have been with us since we first opened our retail space. We have seen their journey through university, parenthood and marriage. We've seen them being reunited with their families they haven't seen in months or years. It's just really special, and as much as we care for them, they care for my team and me just as much.
Refinery29 Australia: What's next for Wild Cosmo?
Loren Telfer: Wild Cosmo has come so far over the past year, and I have evolved so much as a business owner and a woman. My first focus is having my first child (three weeks to go!) I have always wanted to run a business but have always wanted to be a mother too, and I am a firm believer that whatever you want in life, you can achieve it, even if it's not all at once. Opening Wild Cosmo has always been not only about running a kick-arse business but always balancing all the wonders in life as well. I believe in hard work, but I don't believe in 'The Grind'.
In the next 12 months, I would love to expand our retail and coffee space and hopefully get a bigger store space eventually, as we've nearly outgrown this one. We will be focusing a lot more on events towards the end of 2022 and hopefully be able to start travelling all over Australia, creating amazing floral styling for events.
Other than that, I am always growing as a creative and further defining our style, which doesn't happen overnight.