Kristin Perers is a photographer, stylist and owner of The Flower Factory, a creative lifestyle studio space in east London. Originally from America and now living in London, Kristin’s international career has organically evolved from fashion design to interior styling and photography.
We caught up with Kristin to talk about career highlights, the magic of the flower factory, and moving from New York fashion designer to life as a vicar’s wife in Hackney.
The Flower Factory is set amongst a run of Victorian shops dating from the 1860s. Many will know the Sunday Columbia Road Flower Market – this was originally where the Covent Garden traders would sell their leftovers. The area also had a thriving wood tuning business, and the Flower Factory was purpose-built for this – hence the light industrial feel and incredible triple-aspect windows.
I fell in love with the area soon after I moved to London from New York City and had a painting studio in the building for three years – this was in the 1990s, and I paid £25 per week!
The building was full of artists, potters, eclectic shops, and a wonderful café. Eventually, we were all vacated as the building underwent much-needed repairs. A couple of years later, I found myself on a Sunday at the flower market and spotted a ‘for sale sign in the window. I made an offer the next day to buy the unit as a ‘shell’ with no plumbing or electrics, or anything really! I renovated it in six months to make a home for myself and my two sons.
The light is so magical. There are 23 windows across the two floors facing north, east, and south, and the views over the cobbled streets and Victorian London are completely charming. The architecture and a rather romantic and lightly industrial feel are rather bohemian. As a result, the studio is very different from other terraced houses in the area. Also, it’s open plan, with no tight corners and with flexible and moveable furniture. This makes it perfect for easy and effective camera angles.
I started my career as a fashion designer in New York, designing for Calvin Klein in the 1980s. Since then, I seem to step into a new (although related) arena every decade – exploring different skills and ways of expression. I moved from fashion design to styling after writing my first book, The Seasonal Home. Then after a decade of styling interiors and fashion shoots, I started to learn the craft of photography. Having worked alongside many incredible photographers who guided me, I slowly began shooting my own stories.
My most memorable time as a stylist was travelling across Argentina and Patagonia. I styled the Toast collection for several years with Jessica and Jamie Seaton, who created the brand – and their approach was so inspiring. They had both studied archaeology and had a huge interest in place, people and vernacular design, art & craft. The shoots were epic, but I saw so much that would have been inaccessible as a tourist. And I made lifelong friends in the process.
As a photographer shooting for Vogue is always a highlight – but so many shoots are memorable. For example, I photograph a lot of food working with chefs and growers and recently collaborated with Skye Gyngell and the team at Spring. We travelled to the biodynamic farm Fern Verrow in Herefordshire to tell the story of the symbiotic relationship between the restaurant and farm, which is something that fascinates me.
I’m glad you asked that – I’m now musing on ‘This is 60’!
When I was approaching 50, I had a real feeling of ‘how do you do this’? Working in the world of ‘style’ all my life, I suddenly found there was a lack of imagery and role models my age. Yet, in everyday life, I could see so many inspiring women in this decade and beyond. So I set out to interview and photograph women in a very organic way and to find a map to this time of life – a time full of change. It felt challenging but fun walking into a party and thinking, ‘right I want to talk to all the older women in the room’. As a result, I had a reason to introduce myself to the most interesting women!
Perhaps living in a place that is not your birth country makes you an outsider and observer. As a photographer, this can be a good thing because you see the differences that make a place and its people unique.
My husband is a vicar in Hackney, and we live in the vicarage next to the church which comes with the job. Because our house is not our own and we will only be there whilst my husband is in the post, we have Trinity Cottage in Suffolk as a home and retreat.
When we are not there, we let it out as a vacation rental. At first, I was hesitant and not sure how I would feel about this. But it’s actually been so interesting. I’ve found curating and sharing a space deeply satisfying. Most people say the space is so calm, which is what many say about the Flower Factory as well. A chef regularly rents Trinity to cook and write, and she says the atmosphere is conducive to this sort of meditation. And another guest vacationed there with her family and returned alone to finish a screenplay. My husband and I both use the cottage as a retreat space, and it is wonderful to see the house supporting others in their creative and contemplative journeys. It’s also just an easy space to hang out and explore the surrounding countryside.
Hibiscus House is a family home and base for my sister and our children when we return to our hometown in Florida. We share it and rent it when we are not there. It’s a very special place in my heart –a slice of old Florida with the simplicity of sea and sunsets. Here it is so much about being outside in nature; bike riding and paddle boarding. And we are creating a Florida native garden to cook and hang out. My children spent every summer in Florida, and I hope to continue that bond with family. The house is a conduit for family time – for us and for others.
Would you rather stay in or go out on a Friday Night?
Out…my husband works Saturday night and all day Sunday, so Friday night is the night.
Florida or Hackney?
Can I have both? Say 30/70split.
All-time favourite Disney character?
Not a single character, but I grew up infused with the idea of the Magic Kingdom – it’s the set designs that thrill me.
What’s the first thing you pack during an out-of-the-country flight?
My Mexican blanket
What is the first thing you do after getting home from a trip?
Cup of tea!
Kristen is also writing another book. She says:
“I’m writing a second book about homes – the crossroad of the domestic and the spirit. I think spaces speak, and we have relationships with them. The spaces we live and spend our days affect us deeply and by leaning into this conversation we can uplift our lives and the lives of all who cross the threshold.”
Do you want to read more intriguing tails from enviably creative Light Location owners?