Written by Christopher Grigas
I LOVE THE BLEAKNESS OF WINTER…and using it for design inspiration. Winter puts a lot of designers into a color frenzy. I am first to admit, I love a lush & bountiful design of magenta Peonies, plum Dahlias and gold Ranunculus,…who wouldn’t? But, wait…don’t do it! Hold back your lust for these colorful blooms. Winter has a minimalist look, naturally. As you drive to the shop in the morning, look into the woods along the roadside…you see bare trees, snow, moss, fungi, dried leaves, twigs, etc… What am I getting at? Buy the flowers that you usually buy when you go to the wholesaler, especially interesting flowers with color…but in winter, but other things…red osier dogwood, sheet moss, cones, pods…and go into the woods, find some white birch bark, oak twigs, tree fungi, whatever textures that grab your interest. Forage from your natural woodlands and let your surrounding inspire you.
A Fresh Start
Yesterday I was at the wholesaler buying flowers to start off my new year fresh. I had sold ever single bloom in the shop as of December 31st, so I needed to replenish my fresh flower inventory. I picked up the usual suspects of purple Alstroemeria, Snowy Jewel Rose, Jade Trachellium, double-white Freesia, Cherry Love Rose, Chorus Magenta Limonium…and then…Fresh Manzanita Branches?! It was like a song in a dream. I’ve had difficulty ordering preserved Manzanita over the years…but this was bizarre and wonderful. Perfectly shaped, about 3 .5 feet tall, plumed with silvery-sage foliage and that incredible brick red branching. It was just what I wanted…”that other thing” I was hoping to find along with my flowers. I was like a wolf with a fresh kill.
I placed the branches individually in oversized glass vases and placed them along my front window. I thought it was stunning….but what would the public think? No Joke, within 15 minutes, I had people lined up, mesmerized…“manzanitarized” perhaps. It was empowering to see potential customers gazing into the window at the simple branches. I realized that the onlookers were not interested in flowers…they were interested in design & style. Winter is not a colorful or bountiful time, but it has so much style, texture, design and pattern that it speaks to us. I was inspired by the notion that I can sell bleakness.
Bleakness can easily be massaged into simplicity. Every moment we spend designing and adding to our arrangements, we are spending money, seldom getting the profit margins for our time. In winter, the floral business seems to come to a standstill. I always try to economize in January by keeping a low inventory of fresh product & fewer retail hours. Another thing I do…sending out only the most inspired designs. From the walk-in customer who needs a bud vase to cheer her friend, to the weekly corporate office client, this is the time to impress with style and design. Simplicity is a formidable weapon when you’re trying to impress without overdesigning. Simplifying your designs not only boosts profits, it can help morph your shop design-look into something more upscale. I spoke with Meredith Waga Perez from Belle Fleur New York today about how inspired I am by her shop’s perfect and clean designs. The key to her design philosophy is monochromatic designs of luxury flowers. Simplicity is not only appealing, it is profitable. Understandably, a glass vase of 30 short callas can be considered “Hollywood” in price, but if you were to take that same concept and used 20 shortened Dutch Tulips, you have simplified and stylized your design. Simply put…your design will impress and make profit.
Be Artful and Inspired
In my early days of floral design, I remember making arrangements that were so over-designed, it was like the family that has a dozen giant blow-up holiday ornaments on their front yard in December. Forced beauty is never artful. True art is borne organically, like that lush patch of velvety green moss in the desolate winter woodland. Be inspired by the winter landscape and share it with your clients.