As our phones have grown attached to our palms and synchronised to our thumbprints, it’s inevitable that they should become an extension of their owner’s individuality too. No one’s boobs, knees, noses or nipples are the same and neither are any two Aura & Aura phone cases. I love these unique, pressed flower petal phone cases so much that I got in touch with one of the founders, Vassia.
Aura & Aura is a small, independent business run by Niamh and Vassia. Their intricate phone cases have drawn in thousands of customers on Depop and led them to host a press party workshop with Missguided. As a flower pressing addict myself, I asked Vassia about flowers, the business, individuality and making your hobby profitable.
Hattie: How did you get into flower pressing?
Vassia: At the beginning of Aura & Aura it was a one-off thing. But when I started going to meadows and valleys, I got addicted to it. My mum had taught me how to do it when I was very young.
H: What’s it like setting up your own business in London?
V: We still laugh when we think about that. Niamh and I are both very fluid in all aspects of our lives so we took the establishment of the business very slow. Being in London gave us the opportunity to access more busy markets, so I guess we’re lucky in that.
H: You sell your cases at Camden Market, right?
V: Yes. We are so lucky we get to talk with so many people from all over the world who visit London for one reason or another.
Camden Market has a very particular group of traders, with very interesting mindsets, which we love. I find it very important to be able to communicate with the people from your working environment in a higher level and not just chit chat.
All flowers bloom differently, in their own way and tempo, as we do. There is no way you will ever find two identical flowers, petals or leaves. Be that their size, shade of colour, ornamentation or even feel.
H: What’s your experience of selling on Depop, is it time consuming running a 24hour shop from the app?
V: We are so grateful that Depop exists. It has given us a very big audience we wouldn’t be able to access as quickly otherwise. Unfortunately, though, it is time consuming as hell. There are days where we can’t do any other work apart from replying to Depop enquiries that keep coming one after the other.
H: Is there a strong community with Depop sellers and customers?
V: The community is amazing, the most friendly people you can imagine. The community is getting bigger and bigger, in comparison to two years ago when we started. There are many other sellers and some costumers we have become friends with, it is a very personal app.
I love what Depop has managed to create. It gives literally anyone the ability to gain some money from a particular interest and built something out of it. There are so many people with a love for fashion and and art who can get closer to their craft through Depop. Not by having it only as a hobby, but by getting some money for their work. People can Depop instead of having a pointless part time job that they hate. That goes for any kind of creators.
Realising how many people are doing creative things for a living is really inspiring in our times. I’m not big on commodification of the arts but this is a different topic…
H: I watched an i-D interview recently with Vivienne Westwood and she lashed out against millennial artists who she thinks are ‘just in it for the money’. How do you feel about that?
V: I watched the video and I’m very perplexed about it. I really admire and look up to Vivienne Westwood as a designer and what she has accomplished in the industry throughout her career. However, I cannot shake the feeling that she’s talking from a very privileged position. She seems to be too nostalgic about a more traditional sense of the arts, which contradicts the DIY culture she comes from.
H: Why did you choose to work with flowers, is it something to do with the variety or uniqueness of flower petals? Or the fact that they’re a natural, perishable thing that you’ve suspended in time?
V: At the beginning, we chose flowers simply because they are so so beautiful. After working close with them it was that we started getting fascinated by them to an extraordinary degree. I like how dealing with pressed flowers lets us make something that won’t be replaced because it’s broken, faded or ruined shortly after.
I see flowers as a great allegory of how humans should be living together. All flowers bloom differently, in their own way and tempo, as we do. There is no way you will ever find two identical flowers, petals or leaves. Be that their size, shade of colour, ornamentation or even feel.
Realising that, you realise the uncountable possibilities for creation you have and it opens up a channel in your brain about how limitless your cosmos is and that what you are doing cannot be boring. It won’t be repetitive or the imitation of another arrangement.
H: I’ve seen that many Aura & Aura cases have flowers from Corfu, is this where you’re local?
V: Yes I was born and raised there.
H: Did this inspire your flower pressing?
V: Coming from an island I have a close relationship with nature; I like to do something that calms me in a way and makes me feel closer to that pleasant relationship.
People can Depop instead of having a pointless part time job that they hate. That goes for any kind of creators.
H: Where in the world are your favourite types of flowers, gardens or nature sites?
V: I have a hard time picking favourite places or anything favourite to be honest. I think I would have to say anywhere with a subtropical weather cause I think that’s where you get the most flowers; or anywhere anemones can grow.
Manicured gardens, although I like the sight of them, when I spend time there I get uncomfortable by how neat everything is, so I don’t visit them as much.
As for nature sites, lately I have a strong attraction to anything rocky, sharp and heavy like Meteora and Sounion promontory (both in Greece). I recently moved to Athens and I am very overwhelmed and excited by everything it offers that be history, mythology, nature sites. These, combined, are the best place for me at the moment.
H: Do you use pressed flowers for any other creations?
V: I am working on an installation that involves pressed flowers, a mirror and a coffee table at the moment but it’s in a very early stage and I still don’t know why I actually started it. Both Niamh and I would love to develop artistically having pressed flowers as our core centre of influence.
H: What are you aspirations for Aura & Aura?
V: We are still in a very early stage but we want to grow organically as our audience gets bigger. We would love to create more things break into the fashion field a little bit more, without commodifying every aspect of our work, when- and if- that’s possible.