Where are they now? Rosie Browning (Year 12 2013).

Rosie says not to let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you want.  There are always options.
Rosie says not to let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you want. There are always options.

Rosie Browning is recovering from the Valentine’s Day rush when she speaks to us. It’s the biggest time of the year for her growing flower business, Know the Rose. “It was really crazy,” she says with a smile, “but I can’t complain. That’s what you want.”  When she was completing Year-12 back in 2013, Rosie saw a very different path for herself. “I thought I would be going to work in an office every day, doing the same thing, working for someone else,” she says. “I just thought that’s what you did in life.”

By the time Rosie was choosing subjects for her HSC, she already had firm plans. She says, “Even in Year-10, I knew I wanted to do Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication at UTS. I remember seeing a school careers adviser and she just shut the whole idea down. She told me the ATAR required and said, ‘That’s not going to happen. You should aim lower.’ I left that interview so upset and deflated, and I felt that way for a long time.”

Getting back on her path
Rosie says it felt like a weight lifted when she discovered UTS College. “I realised I could actually get there.” She chose a Diploma of Design and Architecture as her pathway to UTS. She says, “It took a lot of pressure off in Year-12. I took subjects that were my strong points rather than the ones that had a higher ATAR ranking. Instead of spending the year stressed, I did subjects I enjoyed like Textiles, Design and Technology, and English Advanced. I did Business Studies too.” The strategy served her well, and Rosie enjoyed her HSC year. “I had stressful moments, but overall, I had a fun time,” she says, “and I was pretty happy when the results came back. I did better than I thought I would – I didn’t think I’d get into the 80s at all and I ended up getting 89.”

Entering her degree with confidence
Having already decided on her diploma, Rosie went with her Mum to an Open Day at UTS College. She says, “I just loved the vibe, the openness. I applied, filled out the documents and that was that.” Rosie wondered, at first, whether the ‘and Architecture’ part of her diploma would be relevant, because she wanted to pursue graphic design. “But it was really good,” she says, “it was so broad and gave me so much information that I took into my degree at UTS.” She loved the culture at UTS College and made many good friends, but the memory that stands out the most is winning the Outstanding Graduate award at the end of her course – a cash prize for achieving the highest grade-point average in her diploma group. She says, “It was my proudest moment, and it really boosted my confidence going into UTS.”

Working nine to five
Rosie graduated from UTS in 2017 and began an internship at a fashion company. “It was a couple of days a week,” she says, “…working alongside the graphic designer. Then, after three months, the senior designer resigned. I didn’t think there was any chance I could apply for her job – I’d just graduated. But my parents said, ‘Why not? Just give it a go.’” She got the position, then found herself working full-time. “That was pretty crazy, just three months out of my internship,” she says. Rosie’s next move was to another fashion company as a graphic designer. “I loved working there,” she says, “but I began to feel a bit trapped working nine to five, going to the office every day and all that.”

Taking the leap
When COVID hit, and Rosie’s hours were reduced to four days a week, she began experimenting with dried flowers on her day off. “I would make wreaths and bouquets and give them to family and friends, just for fun,” she says. “And I started to feel like myself again. With my passion back, I started pursuing it as a business. Then I took the leap and resigned from my job. I’ve been doing it for about a year and a half now.”

It seemed there was a gap in the market for natural, preservative-free dried flowers and Rosie’s business took off. “People were looking for an alternative to fresh flowers during the lockdowns. Buying dried flowers for themselves meant they didn’t have to go to the shops so often,” she says. “I definitely see myself growing the business more. I love working with flowers every day and I love that every day is different.” If she could say anything to her younger self, who had been so crushed by that early career advice, it would be, “Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you want. There are always options. There’s never just one path to where you want to go.”