Sorry for the radio silence recently. There’s been a lot going on! I just started a new job, turned 29, and we celebrated our first wedding anniversary! For my birthday this year, my lovely friend Ariane hosted a bunch of us at her home for a floral crown workshop with our other great friend, Martha DeFlorio of MADE Floral. I took the opportunity to feature Martha as an “Area It Girl” here, too. See my interview with her and some more pics from my B-day party below.
How did you first become interested in floral design?
Actually, I was initially interested in becoming an event planner. In my early 20s, I took on lots of part-time jobs because, honestly, I was scared to settle and work in an unfulfilling field. Looking back, this was one of the most challenging times of my life because I was broke and unsure of the direction of my career/life.
So, there I was, 24 years old with my eye on becoming an event planner. I walked into four event planning companies in Boston and handed my resume to each receptionist. My original list had five event planners on it, but when I got to the last company on my list, I realized that the company had more of a focus on flowers for events rather than designing an event from start to finish. I didn’t visit the fifth company to deliver my resume because their office was by appointment only. Later on, I wrote to this company, called Orly Khon Floral, introducing myself and requesting an intern position for the season. The owner, Orly, brought me in and I began working with her at the beginning of her 2010 wedding season.
At the time, Orly’s only employee was in the process of making a big move to Brooklyn so I was lucky to be next in line to take on more responsibility and learn more about flowers, design, sales, marketing, and the event industry. I started out sweeping floors and processing flowers and within months advanced to making sales and designing the flowers for entire weddings. At the time, Orly Khon Floral was located in a small studio space in Allston, MA with a team of freelancers for busier events. Orly became a great friend of mine, teaching me everything about flowers and being a small business owner in addition to so much more. I grew with Orly Khon Floral, which is now a leading Boston floral design company with a retail space inside Restoration Hardware’s flagship store located in Boston.
What made you want to start your own business?
The floral design company I worked for in Boston was a small business and I supported the owner directly. The thing about working for a small business is that you never really stop doing the tasks from your starting position, but with growth, the tasks and responsibilities will keep adding on. So throughout my five years of work there, I was sweeping, billing, buying, processing, designing, managing, making deals, etc. I really felt like I was in training for starting my own business!
In addition to my previous experience, I started Made Floral with the support of my fiancé, Mike. He always encouraged me to strive for a career that I am passionate about before taking any other path. When Mike and I moved to Michigan in 2014, the idea of starting my own business became a reality. If I was still in Boston, I am not sure where I would be, if I’d still be working at the same company or someplace else. Boston is a great place with lots of opportunity, but at the same time, it’s intimidating with high standards and competition – plus having to compete against my close friends. After the move, I began to experience the different kinds of opportunities in Michigan, especially in Detroit. My debut as a company was with a floral workshop at a retail store called Willys Detroit, a sister company to Shinola. Then, a couple months later, I was asked to do the florals for an event Martha Stewart was hosting in Detroit. I’m amazed that in under a year of business, I have booked a dozen weddings while I continue booking for 2015. I am grateful for every opportunity that comes my way.
Where do you get the flowers for your designs?
I try to use American grown flowers as much I can. Locally, I purchase seasonal flowers from local farms like Michigan Flower Farm in Northville and Graye’s Greenhouse in Plymouth. Just recently held a floral workshop where all of the flowers we used were grown from Fresh Cut Flower Farm in Detroit. When I need specialty product, I purchase from wholesalers in Michigan and from close contacts from the Boston Flower Exchange.
What’s your favorite flower/plant?
My all time favorite flower is ranunculus. It is a flower that always amazes me in color, texture, and variety and I love that the vase life can be up to 1-3 weeks. Those from California are beautiful, but I really love those from Holland and Japan! I also love hellebore, asclepia, peony, French tulips. Oh, and dahlias. I love so many but ranunculus is definitely my favorite.
We’re both East Coast transplants. What’s your favorite thing about Michigan?
I’m discovering new parts to Michigan all of the time. I love everything that is going on in Detroit and it’s extremely inspiring to experience the transformation that the city is currently going through. My favorite thing about Michigan would have to be Belle Isle, specifically the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. I’ve never seen a more beautiful greenhouse and the architecture is so beautiful!
All Photos by Heather Nash