StoreFront Flowers

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It has been a long standing vision of ours to open a storefront in a small community like Shepherdstown, WV.  We couldn’t be happier to have found a home where we can truly be the town’s “go-to” florist.  Prior to opening this store we were only able to service  special events, but now we can continue developing regular everyday offerings.  It is genuinely inspiring to be able to share our passion for flowers with the community.

We’ve been open now for only about 2 months and already feeling a strong connection with our growing customer base.  We have managed to be  booked solid since the day we first opened and have seen the shop fill with people day after day, truly engaging in the work we do.  It is so rewarding to have this opportunity where we can meet face to face with our patrons and instantly inspire them to see floral design just a little differently than they did before walking in.

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Naturally, having a retail storefront is an entirely new dynamic to manage in the mix of our established events schedule, but we are thrilled by the new challenges and meeting them head on each and every day.  Not only does our undying love of flowers get us through the day, but more so, the support and encouragement of all our neighbors and  local shop owners.

So…now that we’ve finally managed to settle in just enough to share a post it’s time to hit the ground running straight into the Holiday Season.  We hope you’re able to join us for the Holidays, as you can imagine we’ve planned a handful of extravagant designs to have fresh in store.  We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us!  By this time next week this entire flower shop is going to be turned into a nordic alpine village…

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Generating Gratitude

This post is long overdue but it appears I needed the extra time to wrap my head around all the insight and understanding this opportunity provided me.  This event was certainly the largest scale wedding we have offered because it included designing all the flowers, lighting, and the drapery.  That being said, we have certainly done some large events in the past but this one required all hands on deck and several new additions to the crew.  As usual, everything was custom tailored and refined to the smallest of details.  Not to mention, that this wedding took over the entire venue by hosting guests in two separate locations while still requiring a full flip on the ceremony site.

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Among all the effort and energy put into this event the one thing that strikes the strongest cord with me is the infinite amount of gratitude that was generated throughout the entire process. I’m not just referring to being grateful for the opportunity and all the people that helped to make it happen.  That’s obvious. I am referring more directly to the reality that every ounce of effort and love I have put into this business is starting to show itself.  It is turning up in all the amazing people and possibilities along the way.  That, among many things, is what I am deeply grateful for.

I’m sure you’ve gotten the impression so far with my blog that the idea of being a florist is difficult in many rights.  However, it is rather simple in the fact that all you actually need to do is leave the place a little prettier than it was before you arrived.  That is a simple task, how you go about it can get very complicated.  However, as long as you (as the artist) continue to generate gratitude among your work all the challenges will be met with grace and poise.

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When I developed the look for this client there wasn’t even the slightest chance I could possibly pull it off.  In my true nature, however, I took a leap of faith and just put it out there.  Within minutes of booking the contract things just took flight in a way I couldn’t have even thought to ask.  Keep in mind, I have never done full scale lighting or drapery much less all at the same time, for the first time.  Especially risky when doing so during a huge floral installation with chandeliers and everything else we get ourselves into.  It was epic and I had to send in for the troupes.

That is what gets me so excited about generative work and being confident that every effort I put myself into has the potential to conjure something more and bigger.  The greater test is putting my faith in what is bigger and keeping the faith that what becomes ever greater than that is still a part of who I am.  I am learning rather quickly to share everything I have with everyone I know, that is what generates the potential of gratitude.  That very gratitude is the only way I would have ever envisioned a greater potential in my self.

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Above are two incredibly crucial individuals in helping to make this event a reality. One of which is the Mother of a Groom and the other a Bride from two different events last season.  Working with them both, on their events, became so genuine that they have grown to be friends and now a vital part of the success at the studio.   As you can see they deeply and genuinely enjoy themselves and that is really all we require in our helping hands.  The fact that they also have exceptional skills, dedication, and passion is parr for the course.

With everything from harvesting at the farm to designing on site, several dear friends and family were there to support the studio.  Support we desperately needed as it turned out that the floors weren’t level and the elevated designs came crashing down.  We had a lot of challenges in front of us but never once did it seem impossible or unlikely that the event would be stunning.  Even more so impressive we all kept a strong smile on our face and enjoyed every second of it.  Well, honestly, I had a silent and brief panic attack when the first cylinder tipped over.  All is well, that ends well, so I rebuilt all 15 elevated designs on-site in the corner in less than an hour.

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Despite the hurdles, everything that comes to mind when I look back on this event it is truly a simple fact.  The fact if you manage to share a little gratitude in everything you do it will generate endless possibilities for you.  However, you must also conjure the faith to bring everyone along with you or those very possibilities are pointless. 

 

Heres a couple more images of the event and all the days surrounding the excitement:

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The boys always get the first quality inspection…

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This used to be our dining room…amazing how quickly I can take over the house!

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I can’t believe I ever trusted this duo with electronics…

 

Local Love

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So…The big day has arrived!  Valentine’s day is hands down the biggest day of the year for your typical retail florist.  However, as you know, we are a private studio so we focus our energy a little bit differently.

Expressing one’s love and gratitude through the pure essence of flowers is so genuine and timeless.  However, the times have changed drastically and yet the standard offering of Red Roses hasn’t shifted a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good velvety red rose as much as next guy but the integrity of roses has been greatly compromised. With the current demand on flowers for this holiday alone the U.S. imports an average of 189 million stems of red roses.  That is significantly more than the average day that rarely exceeds 16 million.  Therefore, Valentine’s Day accounts for the majority of the global production of this ‘timeless’ flower.  Considering all the flowers necessary to fulfill the special orders the U.S. can import up to 378 million different stems depending on the trends for that year.  Obviously, when Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday there are higher production volumes to accommodate office deliveries as well as residential.

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It is almost painful to say that 80% of all flowers used are imported while the remainder are domestic.  Naturally 3/4 of all the Domestic flowers are grown in CA simply as a result of the climate.  Furthermore, these statistics are discouraging when you account for the fact that there are over 5,900 registered cut flower farms in the U.S.  Granted…the unfortunate truth that Valentine’s Day falls in the heart of winter makes it difficult to provide local cuts.  Many florists and flower farms offer gift certificates for Valentine’s Day and will delivery exceptional seasonal designs when the flowers are freshly blooming in the fields.

All the flowers from these designs pictured are all domestic and/or local cuts.  You will notice there are no red roses but still plenty of romance and elegance. Our region offers an incredible selection of fresh cut flower farms and we support as many as we can during the season.  Flour & Nectar is our farm stand that offers seasonal bouquets that are all harvested within 30 miles of our studio.  I must say there is absolutely nothing missing from our market stand.  Wollam Gardens is our primary grower and easily our favorite farmer.  His gardens are recognized all over and are an essential flower destination for anyone to enjoy.

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Typically speaking Valentine’s Day starts as quick as we ring in the New Year.  There are approximately 24,600 flower shops here in the states and we are simply one of them. These shops employee 123,600 people simply to make it through Valentine’s Day.  Thus, this holiday demands a significant amount of planning and an even greater expectation on production.  Don’t forget, it’s still a perishable industry so no matter how hard you plan all the work really happens within a 3 day window.

So, in the end of it all,  if you bought your loved one red roses this year please be sure and enjoy them to their fullest potential.  They certainly grew vigorously and travelled far and wide before arriving on your table.  However, maybe next year start planning a little bit earlier and conjure up a truly unique and domestic design with your preferred florist.  Most designers are deeply conscious of the quality of their work.  It is unfortunately the consumer who is generally unaware of the circumstances.  Be sure and talk to your florist when you place any order.  If they don’t have the time to answer all of your questions then they certainly don’t have the time to truly capture the affection you are trying to express through flowers.

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There is a lot more information and more regionally specific encouragement via Slow Flowers.  No matter where your loved ones are living or traveling this site can find you a florist that works with American Grown Flowers.

PLEASE do so the next time flowers are the right touch!

 

Winter Whites

Recently I’ve found myself genuinely appreciating and reflecting on what we get to do here everyday at the Studio.  Not just the opportunity to make beautiful living art but more so the reality that with every event and every design; we learn something more and deeper about ourselves.  Not only ourselves as designers but ourselves as people and a growing part of our community.

Typically, any given person may think that being a florist is like living a dream where everything is just simply perfect and pretty all the time.  Well…sometimes it is truly a LIVING HELL! The kind of HELL where it is only up to you, as the artist, to come out on the other end just as happy and charming as you were before.  Especially, at that crucial moment, when you hand that blushing Bride her ‘perfect pretty flowers’.

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The ‘REAL LIFE’ of a florist when a little something can ruin everything…

An average wedding for us involves between six to eight months of detailed planing and coordination.  Then about another four to six weeks of vendor communication and venue logistics.  So, all-in-all, we put down about 10 months of serious energy to ensure that everything is as it should be.  Not to mention that we typically have events running back to back each week so at any point we can be coordinating 5 different things all in the same day for 3 different events in two different states.  So, its not just all pretty flowers all day!

In addition to the precise coordination and the anticipation of any possible scenario is the reality of working with the delicate and vulnerable nature of flowers.  The moment a bride receives her Bridal is always a breathe of release.  Finally giving that thing over lifts the weight of the world off your shoulders.  Most people don’t consider the level of investment it takes in developing a strong and elegant work that truly captures the bride’s vision.

Flowers usually show up all smashed in a box from somewhere very far away.  It takes days of particular care and balance to manipulate a bloom cycle that makes those flowers ‘perfect’ in that very moment.  On some occasions I will spend 10 days straight focused on the flowers alone before I even start designing.  Depending on the variety each has their own bloom cycles which all need to be precisely timed to evolve simultaneously on the day of the event.  It takes a  lot of science, biology, patience, and love to evoke the purest essence of any flower.  In that one moment, of every ceremony, when the bride is so graciously lead down the aisle; that bouquet is at the height of it’s life and the very essence of every stem must represent the pure joy of that occasion.

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As you can see, in this image alone, everything about this event was stunning, romantic, elegant, and full of so much LOVE!

Well…that is except for myself and my extreme hatred for Penske Truck Rental who happened to not have our truck available for pick up. If you know me even a little you are confident that I called twice to confirm that my rental was there and both times I was assured there was no need to worry.  Well, there was NO TRUCK when we arrived and more than enough need to worry.  It took them 3 hours transfer a truck to my location which is 3 hours we certainly needed to install the entire: trapeze rig, floral chandeliers, build a tree, set 22 individual centerpieces, a giant “Georgia Style” bridal party, and build an aisle made of FIRE and ICE.

There was simply no other option.  We had to wait on that truck because they are the only available box truck rental in town.  However, I didn’t need to get it stuck in the mud while I was trying to turn it around on the farm.  So there went another hour of trying to shim branches under the tires just to get back on the road before we could even load it up.  Did I mention the wedding was another hour and forty minutes from the studio…Oops!

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Once we arrived we were sweating within minutes.  Thank goodness I have the most amazing and resilient family to help me along with this business.  My Mom was creating ice sculptures while my Dad built a tree and Darin and I were off installing the rig and chandeliers.

You know, without a doubt, we had everything done on time and down to the wire. It was an epic feat to accomplish.  However, when you don’t allow the circumstance to dictate the outcome, you open the opportunity to actually be successful.  Even when your goals appear to be against all the odds.

SO…that being said, all the many months of planning and anticipation are useless unless you are capable of letting it all go in the end.  When everything about your art and business are dependent on other elements  you simply have to be willing to play along. Wether it is within your control or not the effort is all you truly have to offer.  Every day at the studio we strive to put forth our best effort, even if against the odds, because we genuinely believe that the outcome is loaded with integrity if every step along the way is honest.

This event truly offered us some valuable lessons along the way and resulted in being one of our most proud and unique events.  Enjoy the rest of the pictures and clink this link to see a time-lapse of the installation…it’s pretty cool! http://vimeo.com/85799272

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Breaking the Rules

I recently was invited to give my first Design Demonstration hosted by a local garden club.  I, myself, have never attended anything of the sort and was both excited and anxious about the experience.  Naturally, as many things do, this opportunity came up rather impromptu but I was happy to jump on the occasion.   After speaking with the events and education coordinator for the club committee I learned a great deal about what all goes on during this monthly gathering.  They started the meeting with general announcements and then went straight into business with lots of lingo like; “I motion to move…”, “I second the motion…”, “Discussion is on the table…”, etc.  At one point I realized I no longer had any clue what was being discussed or if even they were able to reach a decision.  Then came the anticipated Blue Ribbon award for both design and horticulture.  All of the designs had to be a line-design representing a “winter vortex”.  These designs were judged based on a certain ‘book of rules’ and the Blue Ribbon winner scored a 98/100.  I immediately realized as the judge was providing feedback about the work that my lecture was the antithesis of everything she was advising.  She mostly talked about the rules and how to ‘win’ while my demonstration was exclusively focused on how to gracefully break all those very rules.  So, I knew right of the bat, that I would need to fuse in some humor and crack a coupe jokes along the way.

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As I was introduced and shared a bit of my background they were all surprised (as am I) that this entire journey all started from stacking apples in a grocery store.  Sharing with them that I accidentally fell into this passion opened up a sense of camaraderie with the group.  It allowed the discussion to be more personable and casual.  Which is a good thing because my nervous personality sometimes gives way to some ridiculous gestures.  Needless to say we had a great time and the lecture was off to a great start.

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I decided to share the importance of Movement and Depth when approaching original design.  Especially when working with monochromatic elements.  This was great material to share given the fact that the design competition was required to use all white flowers with winter foliage.  During the demonstration, while designing, I was able to discuss my approach to mechanics and how they differ from traditional methods while incorporating interesting elements of tone and texture. Emphasizing the importance  of creating a sense of depth that evokes an individual story out of each design.   To my surprise, they kept up gracefully despite my rambling and even started throwing out questions left and right while I was working.  I was proud to know that they were both engaged and interested in the material.  Especially when considering that many of these topics discussed are unique to my style.   Most of which is not necessarily defined in a certain vocabulary or established teaching.  It was nice to simply share my approach in my own words from my own intentions.  That involved my many lessons in accepting mistakes, and embracing the impermanence of the work, as well as letting go as the story evolves without controlling the natural elements.

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In the end I managed to successfully fill a 45 minute lecture while demonstrating my approach to design and adding in a little bit of personal inspiration along the way.  This particular demonstration resulted in the completion of a ‘simple’ centerpiece and the club enjoyed every minute of it.  They were all so very kind following the lecture as they rushed the stage for a closer look and the chance to ask more questions.  Having that opportunity to meet everyone individually and hear their inspirations as well as challenges is exactly why we were there.   To share my own struggles along the way as well as everyday seemed to fill the room with excitement.  I hope at the next competition that at least one designer dares to ‘break the rules’ and learns something new and beautiful about themselves.  I furthermore hope that my demonstration also gives them the confidence to share that very beauty with everyone around them every chance they get.

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We were only there for a couple hours but in that time we made a lot of new friends and hopefully a lot more opportunities to share our work.  Being in the company of both gardeners and designers all at once is truly genuine and inspiring.  Hope to see you at the next one!!!

Winter Wearables

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Today was a delightful and dreary rainy day on the farm.  Somewhere along the way I simply woke up full of inspiration to create a full floral headdress.  This was my first attempt at building a complete sculpture piece to cover the entire head.  I have had the opportunity to build some unique smaller pieces for some of my favorite weddings and clients but this one was intended to push my boundaries a little bit further.

Thankfully I fell in love with the most handsome and willing man you can find.  I have certainly put him up to a lot of ridiculous tasks but asking him to wear an evergreen headpiece sure was a new one.  He knew first off that it was not going to be a modest design and that it would be full of intricate details.

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As I continued to work on the piece it seemed to take on its own personality and gradually grew to a  size that seemed almost unmanageable.  After a couple fittings we were able to get it to sit correctly on his head.  Of course, I kept inserting little sprigs of this and that to ensure it rested as naturally as possible and that it framed his face well.

I absolutely love the final result and hope its not a symptom of beginner’s luck because we are going to be building  a lot more wearable floral art.

Enjoy the rest of the pics!

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Color & Carnivale

It was our first meeting that sparked the inspiration for a truly genuine and unique wedding experience for everyone invited and involved.  The Bride and I met at the very coffee house where she first saw my card hanging on the community board. This was truly the first occurrence of the random ‘cold call’ from that message board.  In a strange way it is similar to a blind date where you honestly have no idea what you are getting yourself into.  Usually, I would send a series of emails that narrows down the look, style, and range of the project.  Then assess it’s value and my level of interest to ensure that it is a strong match for the studio.  For whatever reason I didn’t bother this time and I just fell into the rhythm of it all and set a time to meet.  To my surprise it ended up being every bit of the opportunity I was dreaming of. A very colorful and creative celebration that incorporated not only our floral design but also our full ensemble of circus artists.

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As we met to discuss this project the inspirations continued to evolve into a full scale elaborate production. One that seemed so perfectly matched to the studios potential.   Learning that it was a Fall wedding to be hosted at Stone Tower WInery made it all the better.  The Location is simply stunning and one of the best new Venues in Loudoun County.  It being the winery’s first season allowed us a bit more opportunity to push the envelope just a touch further into a whole new concept of celebration. They truly became engaged and interested in everything we had envisioned and were so supportive the entire way.  It is truly asking a lot of a venue when you start talking about suspended floral designs not to mention suspending people.

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Building a complete floral chandelier that could still manage to safely rig all the apparatus was the greatest and most exciting challenge of the event.     Pictured above (on the left) is me climbing to hang all the little candle votives and final touches as we installed the last of the fresh content.   Being a professional aerialist is one thing but trying to be an aerial florist is an entirely new and exhausting feat to accomplish.   Naturally we built the majority of the design on the initial rise of just 8 feet.  As we continue to build the rig the chandelier is then 18.5 feet overheard and some of the content is just too delicate to risk.  So all the final touches were placed into the mechanics overhead while standing in a single foot knot on the rope.  The image on the right shows the finished design and gracefully enough we disguised all the rigging for both the hoop and the trapeze.

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Another new and inspiring element of the event was designing a living loom.  We had never heard of this tradition at the studio and it was recommended by one of the officiants of the ceremony.  This allowed for all of the children to select a remnant of fabric that they felt expressed their ideas of family,love, self, and togetherness.  Then, during the ceremony they each wove their chosen fabric into a loom we built at the studio.  The loom was built entirely of living materials and designed into the chuppah. The piece in the end represents the integration of families and truly speaks to the individuality of this celebration.

The ceremony was a truly a  carnivale as the entire entourage of family and friends paraded down the aisle dressed in elaborate costumes.  It truly evoked a sense of flare and fantasy that resembles the genuine union of these two individuals and their families. The personal flowers were truly exciting to design as none of them were traditional and we got to try some new styles with hair pieces and hats.

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After the ceremony came all the fun and excitement of the circus.  As the sun set over the beautiful landscape my favorite clowns started the show!  Not only did the show have guests laughing out loud we successfully left them in awe after two incredibly amazing aerial acts and some of the finest fire dancing you can find.

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This Event was truly an exciting and inspiring celebration that allowed us at the studio to put all out potential to the test in one single event.  We had the chance to start seeing all our artistic visions mend into one.  You can imagine it might be strange at times to market yourself as both a circus artist and a florist.  Most people tilt their head and think twice for a second before moving on.  However, when one happy couple dares to let you dream it all up you stop at nothing. You meet every obstacle and challenge with a sense of pride and journey in doing every thing you love all at once.

all images provided by Photos by Kintz please follow their work at http://www.photosbykintz.com/