A lot of people ask me how I got started on this flower journey. I would love to tell you about how I grew up on a farm and danced around in fields full of flowers, or how I used to watch my grandmother create floral masterpieces from her garden flowers, or some other beautiful story of loving flowers all of my life, but…I would be lying. My mom DID have an amazing garden, but…
I have never cared about flowers. Truly. Until about 3 years ago. So here is the backstory:
I have always been interested in creating art. I have tried just about every creative outlet there is, but I could never find something that stuck. Painting, watercolor, sketching, music, calligraphy, photography. Tried it all, but never felt drawn to any of them. I had such a yearning to CREATE, though. So much so, that I would find myself in a craft store picking up a $2 paint-by-number on a Saturday night. I wanted to create something, anything, but I couldn’t find my medium.
Fast forward to college. Lost and confused and feeling the mounting pressure to pick a life path, I decided to major in the first class I took that interested me – Psychology. It was interesting enough. I reassured myself it was slightly creative, yet still practical. I spent the next 3 years doing internships, trying different areas of Psychology, and sitting in research labs. Psychology turned out to be a lot of crunching numbers, reading research studies, and exercising every square inch of my left brain. I quickly got burnt out, but continued to convince myself it would be worth it, and graduated in 2013 with a bachelors in Psychology (which has turned out to be very useful in a customer service based industry, if I’m being honest!). (Also, props to anyone in a Psychology-related field…it takes so much patience and intelligence and I have so much respect for you!)
After graduation, I married my long time sweetie Luke, and we packed our bags and our two kitties and headed to Atlanta where he picked up his first English teaching gig. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going at this point. I accepted a spot in my dream grad school program in California, but knew in my heart of hearts it wasn’t what I was meant to do, and I turned it down last minute. I spent the next few months reeling from the loss of working so hard for something and then giving it all up. I knew deep down it was the best decision, but it was tough. I had no idea what to do or where to go from that point. I laid in bed a lot, cried a lot, and watched a LOT of Gilmore Girls.
Back in my hometown of Huntsville, AL, my super talented and artistic sister was nurturing her new calligraphy and paper suite business, Linen & Leaf. Naturally, she found herself in the wedding industry. I started thinking of careers in that industry as well, and threw the idea of flowers over to her. They checked the top 2 things off of my dream job list – 1. Requires using my right brain, 2. Would be working with my hands on a simple, tangible thing. I am so thankful for how supportive she was from the beginning. She encouraged me to explore it. I started researching floral design and getting inspired. I started reading flower arranging books, wildflower guides, and learning the names of flowers. I was dying to get my hands on some pretty blooms and create. I did some research on floral designers in the Atlanta area and, on a whim, emailed one to see if I could work for or shadow her. I ended up interning for a super talented floral designer for the next 7 months, and I learned so much about flowers and pulling off weddings. Mostly, I learned how exhausting this work is. Until you’ve done it, you have no idea the physicality of this job. I cleaned a lot of buckets, processed a lot of flowers, was constantly itchy from foraging, and I stood on my feet for 12 hours at a time. It was exhausting but exhilarating. I definitely thought it would always be easy and pretty and fun. It’s not, AT ALL. It’s sweaty, gross, blue-collar, back-breaking work 90% of the time. This time it felt like the right kind of exhausting, though. Getting my hands dirty was refreshing.
I moved on to freelancing for a couple of different florists and flower shops in the area, and continued to learn a lot of the mechanics of this craft. I remember my shock that I was making actual money from something I enjoyed so much. We lived in a tiny apartment on the outskirts of Atlanta and I spent most of my weekends assisting weddings and then taking home the leftovers to create and explore my own design style. I will always cherish those days I spent alone, in the zone, experimenting with new flower varieties and arrangement shapes (although our apartment was fully carpeted and tiny, which was a STRUGGLE). I would make arrangements on the floor of my living room on my coffee table and I was constantly vacuuming stems and leaves and tracking them everywhere. After a year and a half in Atlanta, we were yearning to be near friends and family, and decided to make the move to Huntsville with the idea that I could start my own business here.
I launched in January of this year, and I am so happy to be in business here and thankful for the outpouring of support I have already received. The vendor community has been incredibly welcoming, I have already more than doubled my wedding booking goal for the year (I said yes to anything and everything, which is GREAT but I'm gonna scale back next year...whew I'm tired!), and I am fulfilling my dream of opening a storefront. I am constantly learning how to adjust to this whole business-owner thing (work-life balance, anyone? howww? Any tips appreciated) and it’s not without its stress, but it’s absolutely worth it to have something that is mine and to have full creative and workload freedom. I am so, so happy doing what I do. I sometimes change my mind on that sentence when I’m up at 6am finishing bouts/corsages or when I’m washing 500 million buckets covered in rotted flower goop, but hey! This job means so much to me. I am lucky lucky lucky.
Until next time.