Community Connections with Ritesh Matlani

Community Connections with Ritesh Matlani

Ritesh is a Surrey-based floral designer and filmmaker. From beautiful unique floral arrangements that emotionally ground you to powerful and impactful videos and films, we are absolutely in love with everything that Ritesh is creating. We had a chance to work on a floral collection together and sat down to chat about all things community, connection and wellness. You don't want to skip reading this one, we promise. 

Tell us about yourself and your journey to florals. 

My name is Ritesh. I’m a South Asian immigrant in Canada. I have been a filmmaker and storyteller for almost a decade now. My recent struggles with depression and anxiety led me on a path of creative exploration and I found floral design as a form of expression that really spoke to me. I started training in early 2022, and it has picked up momentum as I see myself learning, creating and connecting with a community of flower friends and enthusiasts that has brought me closer to my inner light. 

How do you stay inspired and grounded? 

I spend a lot of time alone. I’m a homebody and a solo traveller. I’ve always observed my peace and taken myself on quiet contemplative journeys alone. That has helped me see more, outside and within, that keeps me grounded. 

I’m inspired by colour, culture and in the past couple years I’ve gone back to my roots in many ways such as lifestyle, food and relearning and embracing the simplicity that once used to be. I’m always consuming art, movies, fashion, design and seeking beautiful spaces. Life has been hard you know - as being an out and proud brown gay man, and it wasn’t easy, it’s still not easy. But beauty helps me get through.

What does wellness and self-care look like for you right now? 

I love home-cooked nourishing soul food. I enjoy cleaning and organising my apartment and work space. I love to dance, I enjoy working out when I get to it. Walks are always my best companions. I’m a big fan of homemade facepacks, scrubs, coconut oil head massages and foot massages - I grew up in a household where we would take time on weekends to take care of outward appearances. But only recently have I found value in taking care of the inner child - bhakti kirtan, spiritual music, intimacy with a lover - are ways in which I take care of inner peace.

What do you hope your work inspires others to think, feel or do? 

Be authentic. The process of finding yourself never ends. And in the face of adversity and opposition, I have always tried to be authentically myself, respond in ways that align with the person I want to be. And who you want to be will continue to evolve. I want to be a beacon of possibilities for every brown gay boy innately battling the patriarchy, quietly but unsuccessfully trying to pray the gay away, running away from his bullies, dodging all those questions from intrusive relatives - that your power lies in your ability to create the life you want. Master the skills, learn and absorb, move out of home, be alone, meet people, be uncomfortable, find your tribe, cry often because it’s strength, be vulnerable, face your flaws and sit with them. 

What does community mean to you? 

For us who were born in families that didn’t align with our natural state of being, for those of us that ran away from home, found our escape, are still hunting for our forever home, community means everything. It’s the boat that keeps you afloat in dangerous waters of the unknown worlds we venture into as queer creatives. I am beyond grateful for the community that found me and nurtured my soul.

When and where do you feel the greatest sense of belonging and connection in your life? 

I love my family. After my coming out, they’ve been supportive. My mother is one of my best friends and even though we are oceans apart, our connection is stronger than ever. I feel a great sense of belonging in the rising artistic South Asian community in Vancouver. And I hope I can feel like that with desi creators I meet from different walks of life.

What’s your favourite community space right now where you feel connected? 

I love being in a community of flower lovers and enthusiasts. Other floral designers and artists, flower growers and farmers inspire me tremendously. 

Why are the communities you are currently building important to you?

It’s contributed immensely to my growth as a person and artist, and there is a lot of sharing and learning. They’ve lifted me out of my deep melancholic sadness into a world of nature’s beauty, colour and creativity. 

Do you use candles or other home fragrance products? 

I have loved my Roshni candles ever since I made a connection with Nav and the Inner Peace scent is my favourite. I have had that candle burning during every process of creating florals since the holiday season. I also love incense - growing up there (agarbathis as we call them in Hindi) was an everyday part of life when dad would do his morning prayers - there was an aura of cleanliness and purity and divinity in our homes in the mornings. I light incense whenever I want to feel close to home. 

Through my Indigenous friends in Canada I discovered sage and the practice of smudging. I regularly smudge at home to cleanse and re-energize my space. I love how grounded and close to nature it makes me feel.

What’s your all time favourite candle scent?

I love Inner Peace in the core collection of candles from Roshni Wellness. I also love candles that have scents of Jasmine, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Lavender and Patchouli. I enjoy fruity scents, fragrances that remind me of the ocean. Living in the Pacific Northwest I think I gravitate to Alpine, Cedar and Spruce aromas as well. Juniper is also refreshing to me.

Follow Ritesh here for more on his floral work and check out our limited edition collab candle here.


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