20 Cheeky Questions: Ivy Muse

Best friends Jacqui Vidal and Alana Langan are the dynamic pair behind Melbourne botanical wares design studio Ivy Muse. They launched the business online in 2014 and in August this year opened a bricks and mortar ‘botanical emporium’ in Armadale.

“We’re surrounded by plants on a daily basis; whether we’re working in our new Botanical Emporium, designing or shooting our next collection or tending to our ever-growing stash of plants at home,” Alana tells me. “We’re pretty lucky really, it never feels like work.”

In addition to their own range of products, the Ivy Muse emporium stocks a range of planty goodness from folk such as Studio Twocan, Leaf & Thread, Sophie Moran and more. They also host botanically themed art exhibitions by local artists – merging Jacqui’s two passions of plants and art. They’re currently showing Amy Wright’s Arrangement Series – a collection of works on canvas that explore the interaction and interplay between vessel and flora in a still life environment. “Yes, we’ve been tempted to take the whole collection home,” Alana says.                                   

Jacqui Vidal (L) and Alana Langan (R) of Ivy Muse. Image by Annette O'Brien
Amy Wright's Arrangement Series in the Ivy Muse Botanical Emporium in Armadale, Melbourne. Image by Amelia Stanwix

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, and your life with plants?
Alana: I was always an outdoor kid. I grew up in ‘the sticks’ as my friends used to call it; we had a big garden, lots of trees and plants and plenty to do. I was always helping Dad, digging for worms or playing 40/40 with my friends under our big elm tree. My childhood spent outside definitely instilled my love of nature now.

Jacqui: Plants, like chocolate and bad TV, have a way of becoming addictive. It usually starts with an innocent housewarming gift from a well-meaning friend. You smile and pretend you love the gift, but inside you’re thinking “how the f*#^ am I going to keep this alive!?” The nurturing instinct will soon kick in and you’ll suddenly find yourself googling variations of the words ‘plants’ ‘care’ ‘dying’ ‘help’. With a bit of assistance from Mr. Internet you find that your new plant (which you’ve named Thema) is thriving and has suddenly become your closest confidant.

The next thing you know you’re asking your green thumbed friends for clippings and re-arranging your social schedule around rare plant meet-ups. That’s how it happened for me anyway!                                

If you were a plant, what would you be?
Alana: Schefflera ‘Amate’. Easy to care for, lots of character and they look like they’re from the 70s, my favourite era.
Jacqui: Pedilanthus tithymaloides, commonly known as the Zigzag plant. It’s known to thrive on neglect.

What cheers you up?
Alana: Mucking about with my kids, listening to music or talking to my partner or friends. They always know what to say if I’m grumpy.
Jacqui: Nutella

What is the habit you are proudest of breaking or want to break?
Alana: To potentially stop eating chocolate daily. But I’m not very committed to this idea. It’s always dairy-free and dark so I’m not sure that even counts as real chocolate anyway?
Jacqui: I probably need to stop treating my hands as sticky notes. By the end of the day it looks like I’m on well on my to having complete tatt sleeves.

What is your favourite word?
Alana: Boom. It’s currently being used to sum up anything that’s good.
Jacqui: Ethnic

Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time?
Alana: No. Phew.
Jacqui: Nope

The Ivy Muse Botanical Emporium. Image by Annette O'Brien

Name a skill you wish you had.
Alana: To be able to move like a dancer. They’re amazing. I’m mesmerised by what the human body is capable of.
Jacqui: Selective mindreading.

What is the most played song on your playlist?
Alana: Sia – Breathe Me (Mylo remix). Reminds me of my 20s spent living in London.
Jacqui: Sexual / NEIKED

If you had to make a garden with 3 plants, what would they be?
Alana: 1) Monstera Deliciosa. They get so crazy big and beautiful outside; 2) Daphne. For the memories. Ever since I was little Dad has always given me a stem when it’s in flower; 3) Wisteria. I’m a bit of a romantic and love a climber.
Jacqui: I like eating so I’d have to say a lemon tree, olive tree and peach tree. Although I’m reading Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series to my daughter at the moment, and that’s a pretty cool tree! Not only does it have different ‘lands’ at the top, but the tree grows all sorts of different fruits and the fruits change on any given day and new and different fruits appear as you climb higher up the tree. So the Faraway Tree would be my ultimate backyard tree! And I’d only need one tree and not three to boot!

What makes somebody sexy?
Alana: Being able to laugh at themselves.
Jacqui: A strong sense of self.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Alana: No responsibilities! And catching Christmas beetles in summer.
Jacqui: Rollerblading down to the milk bar for 70 cent Paddle Pop. Banana flavour of course!

What’s the first thing you notice when you meet a person?
Alana: I think there’s great power in ‘thin slicing’ when you meet someone; a subconscious feeling we get. I tend to listen to my gut.
Jacqui: Their voice.

What qualities in people do you admire the most?
Alana: Honesty. Authenticity. Dedication.
Jacqui: A sense of humour, a healthy appetite and the ability to enjoy bad TV.

What would you be doing in an alternate life or career?
Alana: I always wanted to be a chef when I was little. I still love food and cooking.
Jacqui: Working as a producer on a crap reality TV show.

What’s your perfect three-course meal?
Alana: Anything tasty that’s dairy free. Followed by chocolate. Always chocolate.
Jacqui: I prefer buffets….

What is special about where you live?
Alana: It’s chilled out, there’s a sense of community and we’re five minutes from the beach.
Jacqui: It looks and feels like a beach house but is totally in the ‘burbs.

If you could control your dreams, what would you dream about?
Alana: Travelling the world. With two young kids this part of our life has been put on hold somewhat for now!
Jacqui: Nothing PG enough to write here!

What’s your favourite kind of weather?
Alana: Warm and still. (And early morning if I get a choice).
Jacqui: I love it when the air temperate is the exact same temperature as your body.

How many people are you completely yourself with?
Alana: I’d like to say most now. As I’ve gotten older I’ve got better at it.
Jacqui: I could count them on one hand.             



The Ivy Muse Botanical Emporium. Image by Annette O'Brien