Collab Spotlight: Ombelle

Oct 18, 2022

by Marie-Michelle Dupuis

If you follow us closely, you may have already seen her adorable self or her beautiful creations in our stories. Annabelle, the inspiring young woman behind Ombelle, also participated in our workshop sale last summer, much to our delight.

The idea of a collaboration between our two Trois-Rivières companies came to life recently. If you haven't seen it yet, we launched the fruit of this collaboration last week, as pleasant on the nose as it is aesthetically: a botanical milk bath soak

A what? Our famous milk bath soak, known for its highly moisturizing properties, blended with the colorful beauty of calendula petals, sage leaves and a delicate floral fragrance. Bath-confettis that smell like heaven, basically.

But, what is Ombelle exactly? As Annabelle says so well, Ombelle is beauty in the wild. She is a passionate person with earthy hands. A creative mind in search of beauty. It is a garden of wildflowers that she carefully picks to dry. It's also floral arrangements put together to decorate any space, but also to inspire.

I wanted to know more. Here is what she had to say: 

Marie: What did you dream of doing as a job when you were little?

Annabelle:
Until later in life, I could not identify with a specific profession. As a child, I even said that I did not want to work, I now understand that it was a way of saying that I did not want to "feel" that I was working. I remember daydreaming about a place more than a job itself, a place that would allow for all my passions to come to life, that would bring together all kinds of projects. The form has changed a lot over the years, but as far as I can remember, there was always the desire to work with the land.

It took me a long time to accept this plurality, to understand that my journey wouldn't necessarily be clear and precise. Even before starting Ombelle, what reassured me was telling myself that no matter what I chose to do, if I was stimulated and I did it with heart, I was going to chart a path that was true to who I am.

Marie: I think you're nailing it! So how did flowers come into your life?

Annabelle:
Flowers came into my life quite unexpectedly. In 2019, I entered the GTEA program in Victoriaville in an urban agriculture program. As I was saying earlier, I didn't necessarily have a plan in mind, I just felt drawn to the agricultural world. This is where my fascination for everything that grows started. Flowers, on the other hand, entered my life in a strange way in the middle of a pandemic winter, when I decided to play with bouquets of wildflowers from the summer before. It felt like a balm for my whole being. Being of a practical nature, I like things to have several functions, I like the utilitarian aspect of objects and my choices lean much more towards what is rational than what is emotional. Flowers help me bring out my more sensitive nature. I discovered a creativity that was very well hidden within myself, but which wanted to come out. My view of the world around me has drastically changed at the same time as my opinion on beauty. I now have a real plea in favor of aesthetics, I think it is a need to surround ourselves with what we find beautiful and that the impact on our mental health is really positive.

Marie: Where do you take your inspiration for your creations?

Annabelle:
I feel very inspired by the European ideology on the world of flowers. In France, for example, you buy flowers every week at the same time as your groceries. It's a weekly custom that isn't questioned at all and I find it incredibly beautiful, you feed your body and your mind in the same place. This is one of the many reasons why you can find my flowers at Marché Notre-Dame in Trois-Rivières. On one hand because the owners are fabulous friends and entrepreneurs, but also because we shared this very bucolic vision of small European markets, where you find your flowers next to your daily fresh bread.

It is certain that I am influenced by many floral artists that I admire, not to say it would be lying, social medias are a source of inspiration in a certain way. Nevertheless, once in the studio, what pushes me to create pieces that come as close as possible to what we see in nature, is the idea of ​​offering people an opportunity to stop and contemplate. Gazing at an aspect of the natural world allows our nervous system to take a break. We become calmer, we can take a step back and our mind is more positive. This is what inspires each one of Ombelle's creations; offering people a moment to breathe. To achieve this, I am inspired by our Quebec wilderness, its textures, its movements, its colors, each plant's behaviour and how they interact with each other. I like to sum up that my mission is “to make the interior wild”.

Marie:
It's truly beautiful. I suddenly want to go to the grocery store and get myself a bouquet! So tell me, what are your days like?

Annabelle:
As I still divide my time between several projects, each day is completely different, but the 100% Ombelle days are by far my favorites! During the summer season, a day always starts with an afternoon in the garden, which is located in Saint-Maurice, with our friends at Ferme Maurice. I weed, stake, analyze and then pick my precious flowers. I then come home for lunch, then in the early afternoon I package the flowers. I take each stem to remove the leaves, remove the little critters, count the quantities (I love data), I classify them by variety, then by color. I then have fun making a few fresh bouquets that I will later take to Marché Notre-Dame. With the rest of the flowers that have not been put in bouquets, I mount them in the workshop, tie them upside down in bunches to dry them. I usually end the day by cleaning up the workshop, when the light is nice I take a few photos then I do some office work.

What is marvelous when you work in the botanical world is that you always have to change your routine, according to the seasons. In summer I am in the garden, in autumn I pick in forests and on the roadside to find the treasures that this season brings us. During the winter I go out less, I am in the workshop making different flower products, then planning the garden. In the spring, I transform the workshop into a small greenhouse and I spend most of my time planting seeds and thinking about the upcoming growing season.

Marie:
Wow, pure happiness! So, the real question is: What is your favorite flower? And why?

Annabelle:
Wow…that's an impossible question to answer! I think my favorites literally change every week. At the moment I am rather fascinated by one category, grasses. Especially small grasses that are considered weeds when mowing the lawn. In my favorites, we find the witchgrass, a real wonder when you want to add movement or a touch of madness to an arrangement. You can also find, the squirrel-tail grass with its green so soft that it is almost white and the way it lets light through its long edges, is a guaranteed wow effect. I find these herbs to be keys to creating wild looking floral designs and truly representing the nature around us. Yes, shrubby everlasting
are the queens of dried flowers, but they are really highlighted when they are accompanied by texture and movement, I find that's where my beloved grasses take on all their discreet importance.

Marie: Finally, how do you see Ombelle in 5 years?

Annabelle:
I want Ombelle not only to be an online store, but to make botanical art products accessible to as many people as possible, but I also imagine a space. A gathering place that allows nature enthusiasts to meet and discuss what drives them. Workshops in nature, festive events, harvest festivals, etc. In fact, my vision for the future is clear, I want local flowers to be more and more part of Quebec culture. That we choose local flowers for every occasion, that dried flowers become obvious during the winter, instead of imported flowers for example. Then, I would like Ombelle to be part of this change of mentality and contribute in its own way to promoting our Quebec nature. I hope to have the chance to work in this direction alongside all the other farms / projects / nature lovers who are already doing exceptional work.

Thank you so much Annabelle for bringing us into your garden through these few questions, and thank you for embellishing our lives. We will certainly follow you in your future projects, because something tells me that this is only the beginning! xx

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