WHEN Ashleigh Palmowski began The Naked Florist, she chose a business name that was honest but cheeky.
"It refers to our floristry style - we are raw and pared back, we go out foraging and use natural, fresh elements," the 26-year-old explains. "But obviously I chose the name to provoke attention."
It did, however, create a thorn in her side.
"There are a lot of inappropriate comments from people just having a laugh, like "Are you really naked?' I don't know why, but it always catches me by surprise."
Things came to a head in August, when Palmowski and partner Zac Davis, parents to eight-month-old Hugo, lost their bid on a house.
Keen to distract herself, Palmowski decided to do a nude photo shoot of herself for The Naked Florist - shot tastefully and artistically - and its social media.
"I thought stuff it, it's important to know the face behind a business," she says. "Then I thought, why don't I just go full bore and do it bigger and better for charity."
The result is the Naked For Change calendar, featuring 12 nude florists, seven of them from the Hunter.
Palmowski initially struggled to find florists "willing to get their kit off", but by the end of her talent search she was turning people away.
Each florist chose their photographer, a creative team and a scene that represented their own personality or floristry style. Enlisting 44 creatives (photographers, florists, stylists and makeup artists), the calendar was liberating.
"As florists, we are asked to do collaborative shoots and we do as best as we can which is still our style but we never have an opportunity to do exactly what we want or freedom to create as we like - and that's when our best work comes," Palmowski explains.
Palmowski posed with her light blue Volkswagon beetle.
"Lila is my very first car and I have lived in her and travelled in her and basically decided I wanted to be a florist while I was travelling in her," she says.
As a new mum, she found the shoot to be empowering.
"My body is quite different to what it used to be but it is valued so much higher and seen in such a positive way," she says.
"We've all seen the oiled up firemen posing for calendars - we wanted to do something tasteful and creative as opposed to sexualised.
"We are all completely different body shapes, ages, races, and some mums are in there too, which is so important to show that everyone is equal and beautiful in their own way."
Ms Palmowski said the "courageous" creatives had fun on locations in the Hunter and Sydney.
"Everyone walked away with a new and improved outlook on themselves," she said.
The Naked For Change calendar costs $20 with all proceeds going to local Hunter charity Got Your Back Sista, which supports women and families affected by domestic violence.
"Our biggest aim is to raise money and awareness for GYBS, although we are also promoting and encouraging conversation," says Palmowski.
The calendar is available at Flower HQ, Newy Burger Co, Kinfolk Barbers, Floweresque, Piccottee Floral, Blooms On Darby, Newcastle Flower Markets, Worn Out Wares, Pearsons Darlinghurst, IF The Florist, Caves Coastal Bar and Bungalows and The CoWork Space Cessnock.
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