Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Administrative Assistant - FULL TIME

This position works closely with the Creative Director (Sarah Ryhanen) and the Sales Manager (Bryony Mattes-Harris) helping them manage client relations, works on client proposals, generates and track invoices, oversee the calendar of events at Saipua Headquarters, provide general administrative office support, complete light bookkeeping and perform a smattering of personal assistant type tasks.


Impeccably organized 
- Able to maintain an organized diary of details on a varying list of projects and clients.
- Excellent note taking skills
- The mind of an elephant; does not forget anything.
- Impeccable attention to detail. Does not misspell; excellent with numbers.

Superior communication skills 
- Concise, clear, concientious communication. We appreciate candor and directness. 
- High level of editorial abilities for drafting correspondence and communicating directly with clients.

This person is enthusiastic, shows initiative, is more responsible than most and able to admit their mistakes and own their position within a high functioning team. 

Proficient in: 
Photoshop (particularly rendering skills)
Google docs and Google calendar
General computer troubleshooting skills

Compensation commensurate with experience, full health benefits.

Interested applicants will send their CV and a brief letter of intent to with the subject line ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Friday, June 10, 2016

summer starts early

Besides the 88 degree days we had in NY last week (it occurs to me I often start by talking about the weather) there have been a few indicators that summer is starting. Just now, making coffee in the studio I put the half and half right back in the refrigerator instead of leaving it out for my second coffee. This happened instinctually; an animal in my natural studio habitat responding to increases in light and temperature. The kiln was also on this morning and this could have thrown my sensitivity askew. (I re-read that sentence and think we have a kiln!)

At the farm I ask Eric if he wants to spend some time in the city, or leave for a while. He is tan and handsome. Having spent a lot of time apart I notice this in new, different ways. He eats more at dinner, sleeps sooner, is up earlier. He responds as if I've asked him an inconsiderate question. This is my season he says, already walking away. He still lets me borrow his clothes, and does my laundry when I come back which I take as a good sign. Eric is very good at laundry.

Indeed, the farm had switched from being a cold, wet, lamb-birthing blood bath to a place where interns and friends are eager to visit. In the two weeks I was away it exploded with green. I arrive back after two weeks in the city and traveling for work and get upset. So much has happened here without me. Lambs are practically weened, in full fleece, asking for iPhones. 

Despite my chaotic schedule I've made rhubarb compote what feels like a hundred times already. I'm not sure if it qualifies as something to write down, but I will. In the spirit of sharing what we eat  what's worth mentioning is the seasonal fruit cycle that starts with rhubarb and ends with apples in October. It's a wild ride folks! One love affair smashes into the next, juice running down your chin, leaning suddenly over the kitchen sink. Cooked rhubarb bubbling over on the grill outside, turns to the small local strawberries pressed together in their green cardboard quart containers complete with the steamy hint of mold that blooms in between them at the bottom almost immediately. (Consider then, the box of driscolls.)

I could sit here and write to you about how I am learning constantly about the shortness of life. How the farm teaches that in every chore, every evening walk, every humming bird you try and save. A farmer, maybe 45 years old, once told me that she only had 15-20 more tries to get her potato crop right. You only get one try a year.

My mother, says she's always thought of herself as 27. 
My favorite rose bush blooms in the city, I bring everyone to it. 

Rhubarb Compote

This is a loose recipe of how we make it at Saipua, which is really without any measurement. Weird, that surprises you? Suffice it to say, rhubarb is sour and usually recipes call for a lot of sugar. Personally I have a rather complex relationship with sugar, having been denied it as a child (major themes: deprivation, froot loop envy) I now am very weary of it as an adult. Also, I prefer to consolidate my sugar consumption to afternoon coffee/cookie breaks and wine. I walk this tense line of indulgence and restraint like nobody's business. If you want, replace the honey with a scant cup of sugar, you nut.

1 pound of rhubarb, chopped up in 1 inch pieces, rinsed, water still clinging to it
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of honey


It will bubble up and cook down fast. Turning into an unattractive brown slop. Cool it.
Put it on yogurt. Excellent source of vitamin K and C.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

spring stuff and entering the spiritual realm?

A few weeks ago I was walking a lot in the evenings between 6pm when Saipua closes up and 8pm when the sun sets. The gloaming and I; down the block, out of Red Hook across the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. To the corner of Clinton and Carroll Street.

This particular week was damp and heavy, shrouded with clouds and cold. New Yorkers were cursing spring, can you believe this weather? and yet the lilac, dogwood, and last apple blossoms continued their parties with their own inside jokes and amusement at our limited understanding of larger weather patterns. As if everything was either/or. Sun or Rain.

On one of these nights, finishing work a bit late, I looked out and saw a diminishing opportunity to visit a particular tree which I had recently claimed to be 'my tree' although it is not mine. My tree is an old magnificent pink dogwood in the small yard of a handsome funeral home in Carroll Gardens. The surrounding yard is unfortunately landscaped with garish orange begonias in the window boxes and several pepto bismal-colored azaelea dotted about. On one walk there later that week I developed a plan to offer our new Saipua landscaping services to this funeral home in order to better suit my tree. (This plan has since been abandoned.)

I ended up claiming 'a tree' after a friend of mine told me about 'his tree' - an old apple arguably too large for its city block, practically foaming at the mouth with flowers. After visiting this friends tree a couple of times I realized that I really should have my own -- considering the nature of my work -- it was practically embarrassing that I didn't have 'a tree' already.

Shortly thereafter I encountered a tree which qualified. I was driving through Carroll Gardens, a neighborhood which, due to specific economic conditions over the course of the last century, is replete with handsome older decorative trees of a certain caliber. It was a pink dogwood in full bloom - its flowers already drawn out and flabby. Alone in the car, I sucked a breath in sharply, tipping my sunglasses down my nose and craning my neck to watch it as I drove by. Regaining focus on the road and I claimed it silently, vowing to visit it regularly.

On one of these visits to my tree on this particular cold week, I encountered a lilac heavy with blue flowers volunteering itself over a wrought iron fence. It was practically throwing itself at me as I walked by. Stepping into it, I thought briefly of the number of noses likely pressed into these flowers, in the specific vicinity of four to five feet off the ground, and the likelihood of sharing a strangers breath, even traces of their saliva inadvertently on the surface of these seemingly innocent florets.

When I inhaled into this lilac I knew I would not ever be able to get enough. I suddenly wanted privacy on the street; no dog walkers... no children on scooters, their mothers with phones pressed between their shoulders and their ears, bullishly hurtling down the sidewalk sideways glancing at me standing there in the bushes.

I pushed onward past the ombre arc of a waining dicentra, past lines of tulips standing at attention. I got to my tree and wondered if maybe I didn't jump the gun in choosing it; might there be a better tree for me?

There's another plant I visit, a wisteria. It canopies over the sidewalk, on a street connecting our studio to the rest of Red Hook. I learn about it from Genevieve shortly before her last day at Saipua. In Genevieve's world many things are magical; though our standards for this word are calculated with different sets of weights and measures. Recalling the wisteria now, since reduced to its plain clothes of average green foliage, I find myself stumbling for words. It was a mysterious moment; one which created some sort of supernatural pull; altering my flight patterns, my daily routines and thoughts. Practically the definition of magic. And I realize I should give Genevieve's magic more credit.

You can eat the petals of wisteria, they taste like peas. I take some to eat one afternoon and it feels like some sort of florist communion. We all want that secretly, don't we? Entrance to the spiritual realm.

We dance around it, intellectually pull it apart in conversations about the nature of organized religion or meditation or hallucinogenics. We gently prod at it, handling the slippery thing carefully. Not knowing how to proceed.

Friday, April 29, 2016

WEDDINGS PART III: the evolution of the saipua wedding

The best thing we do at Saipua is make gorgeous flowers. We do other things -- my mom makes really good soap and we are pretty good at designing events. Some of our team is great at building large installations; hanging heavy things from the ceiling of large spaces with airplane cables, and sometimes setting those things on fire. Strategically. On purpose. We are slowly getting better at farming. And for the record we are decent cooks, all of us. 

But at the core of all of our efforts seems to be the ability to put together beautiful things; and to share those things. We do this with flowers, obviously most of all. And specifically in the last 10 years, have built quite a business by doing this for weddings.

The first wedding we ever did was at Ici restaurant in Brooklyn. It was maybe 80 people. The couple came to us through Renato who owns Baked a coffee/bake shop across the street from our first little studio. He was making their cake and they needed a florist. She wanted purple flowers.

The total budget was $700. I probably spent $800 on the flowers; so it goes in the beginning. You just want it to be SO GOOD. And you do whatever it takes. For us (and for most starting florists) I think that means subsidizing a lot of weddings as you get your bearings. 

From there it was a lot more small weddings in Brooklyn. It was a lot of antique ball jars. I found a 'supplier' of old mason jars and bought hundreds every season. I was learning constantly how to get better flowers, make better flowers. 10 years later we had scaled up to working with budgets of $25,000 to $150,000. My parents still get a kick out of the fact that people spend that kind of money on weddings. But I love it because it makes beautiful things happen. Great art happens this way, and a lot of people are supported in that process -- from our growers, our farm, our employees, our freelancers, etc. 

But I miss the ball jars in the back of my pickup truck days...

When you expand a business it can feel like a supernova sometimes. Layers rapidly expanding out around you at the speed of light; ephemerally linked to what was once a neatly organized core which went about it's business converting hydrogen into helium at easily measurable rates with predictable outcomes. There are a lot of stars out there, doing this. As I write this -- a post that is supposed to be about weddings -- the core of our business -- I realize that drawing a metaphor between Saipua and a dying star is not a brilliant sales tactic but fuck if we've ever been slick with marketing.
(And if you like outer space metaphors, I have an arsenal of them...)

All is to say that I've been reeling a little this year as Saipua grows up and also as I reach my limit as to how much wedding industry stuff I can/want to handle. You got a taste of that in my last post about weddings. I just want to make flowers. A lot of them. And make people happy with those flowers. And connect with people who have the same sort of values that we have here. 

So we're changing our rules about what we can offer brides and grooms...

We'll continue to design and realize the grand weddings and events that allows us to really flex all the muscles we've refined in this industry for the last 10 years. The soup to nuts of weddings; offering clients access to our vault of wisdom on everything needed to throw the most memorable feast for the senses. These events are our crown jewels; and for these we can provide everything from paper suites to furniture rentals and customized animal masks. And for these we plan and create insane flowers and invite our clients deep into the saipua world. 

And then we're going back to the other side of the coin -- our beloved Frankies backyard mason jar weddings. (Do they even host weddings anymore, I hope so.)

Making flowers you need for a simple brooklyn backyard wedding or a quick trip to city hall. One where a couple might only need the bouquet, a boutonniere and perhaps a dozen small arrangements. The sort of flowers that my parents would have had at their wedding. Which I'd never see anyway, because there are no photos. 

These weddings are really a treat for me as they are flowers that I can do by myself. Alone in the studio really early in the morning or really late. Listening to Kate Bush on the loudest setting. Knitting myself back into the core of our business. The most thoughtfully sourced and arranged seasonally oriented flowers. On a small scale.

Our hydrogen to helium. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

perpetual winter

It's been unseasonably cold. We're in the middle of lambing at Worlds End. Coming up to my office to write this, I check the calendar because I have no idea what day it is. April 10.
The stream is frozen slightly, a crust breaks on the stones when I cross it to check lambs at 3:30 and 6:30am. The dogs don't come with me because they are lazy; one eye on me as I prep in the dark; a memo received: not in my job description.

At dinner last night we all discussed naming genres for this year's lambs; suggestions welcome. One of my sheep mentors named all of her lambs after Russian authors one season which I thought was so smart. I like the idea of Russian literature because it seems so serious, laced with pain and vodka.

I'm reading about the big bang again. And the idea of the Ekpyrotic Universe.
Which I like because it rhymes with 'erotic.'  Minus a syllable.
In the Ekpyrotic model you might imagine the universe as a rubber mat with lots of people sitting on it, stretching out infinitely - everyone becomes the center of their own universe on this rubber matt; there is no middle. When you reverse it, you are traveling in time back to the singularity, everyone gets closer together. It gets hotter. Then everyone is right up against each other. Then everyone's atoms are inside everyone else's atoms. At that moment the universe has nearly infinite density and temperature. I read this line and it makes me feel a rush; my chest feels physically full for a minute. I realize I am very exhausted and feeling all the things more than usual.

Next day.

3:30 I find a baby white ram lamb standing next to Dotty in the light of my headlamp. After a lot of commotion I've got them inside the barn in a lambing jug, Eric is on the way up and a second lamb is presenting really perfectly thank god; last year Dotty had a lamb stuck in her and both of us were elbow deep inside this ewe before we could get it out.

The second is born, black with white spots.
Dotty cleans her second baby off and then oddly rejects it - headbutting it around the stall like a football. Watching this is horrific. All this cold, confused newborn lamb wants is to be next to its mother. In her inexplicable hormonally charged rage against her second lamb, Dotty pinns my wrist at one point between her horns and the sidewall. Eric asks me if it's broken because I'm crying and being dramatic. Part of why I'm crying is because I'm tired and feeling sorry for myself and wanting to be tougher but just not being very tough right now.

When you are in the middle of learning a lesson, you don't realize it until after it's over...

During the daytime, I take walks in the woods in between lamb pen checks.
I'm reading about the ancient greeks and stoicism.

Stoicism: nature as divine consciousness. The order (and 'disorder') of the universe is behind the mystery of fate. Stoics taught that people could be free of suffering and achieve peace of mind through true objectivism. By bearing witness to nature we can see the equanimity in it's highs and lows.
That in passion lies the root of suffering.

I am reading this stuff and I'm not sure I like it.

Spring will be here soon enough. All lambs will be born and either live or die, everywhere. Mud and snow will dissipate; perennial weeds appearing first, almost impossibly through water logged beds where nothing should be able to grow. City girls will toss their tights and start ordering rose wine in restaurants with greater frequency. Ramps and rhubarb clouding every epicures brain. People will think to start biking again. Dopamine and melatonin levels rise and statistically more people will be falling in love.

I find some semblance of rest in the cycle of it all. Or in my ability to calm down, watch this baby lamb, help it the best I can and then walk away without the emotional anthropomorphized baggage of the story of what's happening to it.

Zooming out slightly, to see the whole scene. Springtime. All the millions of times it's happened here.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ceramics Part II; launching the new SAIPUA DELIVERY PROGRAM

People call our studio all the time to have flowers delivered. As if we were a normal flower shop with normal people, normal hours and predictable rhythms. On some days we may look like a flower palace; other days it feels like a scene from Little Shop of Horrors. The last few weeks have looked like a dust covered bombed-out set from an episode of Homeland, as we prepare to open our ceramics studio  and storefront officially May 7th (hail mary, full of grace).

So when people call we send them elsewhere... To Emily Thompson, to Brrch, Fox Fodder Farm, or Putnam & Putnam. But suddenly with more space, more staff, more ceramics and more farm flowers we saw an opportunity to reinvent the delivery program … and fund the new educational initiative which aims to bring people to the farm to learn about nature and work creatively in it. A big piece of this is another giant barn renovation to create places for people to stay and make art and make sheep's milk cheese... 

I feel the most important thing we can do at Saipua is to inspire and promote a creative relationship to nature through really beautiful things.  I like that someone can have a beautiful piece of what we do even if they are not planning a wedding or throwing a big party. I like that we can share our flowers from the farm with people all over New York City - and I like that we might, for the first time, be able to figure out how to run a delivery program efficiently and profitably…

The first challenge to deliveries is finding an inspiring and suitable vase. For us it was so important to avoid another throw-away import. We wanted a beautiful object that could become just as important as the flowers. The ceramic studio and partnership with Object and Totem solves this challenge; and opens up a new world of potential collaborations with ceramic artists. The vases will change seasonally with the flowers; encouraging a collect-all-four mindset. I love collections.

The second challenge was to design and actualize packaging that serves to both protect the vessel and flowers in transit and also be exquisitely beautiful (and reusable!). For months we've been designing and figuring out the fabrication of a perfect box. I love it and I love that it's beautiful enough to use on your desk or in your closet after you take the flowers out of it.

I also wanted a card that felt and acted like a small piece of art; something you may want to keep on your bulletin board above your desk for a while. Something with a SNAKE ON IT.

The third, arguably most important challenge was to restrict ourselves to flowers durable enough to withstand the conditions of delivery -- imagine the jostling on the delivery truck, the doormen with little regard for your fragile masterpiece, the hot air blown directly onto a precious sweet pea-laden masterpiece while it sits in a large apartment building vestibule waiting for someone to come home in the evening to receive it. Avoiding certain flowers, knowing the behavior of others -- our 10 years of experience gives us thorough knowledge of this. We know not to use hellebores (unless I cut them myself from the farm in late April once they've hardened off) we know not to use sweet peas - just too sensitive to heat in clients homesunless we invest in the Japanese grown ones, which are bred to have a 14 day vase life. But without the sweet fragrance of the locally grown varieties or the Italian ones. There's a whole other post in that sentence right there...

I know better to use flowers that show themselves off over time and continue change and delight people in the vase over the course of a week -- tulips for example. But regular tulips don't provide much thrill which is why we've got 1500 La Belle Epochs just poking up in the field here at the farm

All the work and effort that goes into launching something like this is extraordinary. Jennell, Eric and I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon covering up all our bulb crops here at the farm in preparation for some highly unusual low temperatures predicted for the next few nights. The synergy of what is happening between the farm and the city can be evidenced in all these new programs we're starting -- deliveries, ceramics, educational programs…I'm laughing as I write this because I try to make everything look easy (Leo) but it has been SO MUCH WORK. But it's also so incredibly rewarding. And I'm taking my first few buckets of daffodils down to the city today, which will tuck into our new beautiful vases tomorrow morning along with a smattering of other spring blooms and could find their way to you Tuesday morning.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our Ceramics Program: Part I

I've been whining about the vase selection in NYC for nearly a decade. Not that I don't cherish my relationships with Cecelia, Pasam and Maria at Jamail Garden Vase Supply on 28th Street - but not enough to keep me from cursing the shelves in that place every time I have an event. We've dabbled with having things custom made but it's never caught on….until I met Julianne from Object & Totem at a holiday sale this past christmas. A glass of wine in hand, I found myself entranced by her work, and while fondling a female-form-inspired vase, began chatting Julianne up. She was looking for a new studio. And I had just rented the new saipua cave -- a giant space that quadruples our working space…

That was the moment I began to dream about a ceramic studio inside SAIPUA... where there could be an ongoing conversation between seasonal flowers and the sort of vessels best suited to arrange them in…I couldn't get Julianne's work off my mind and wrote to her a few days later…

The relationship between the vase and the flowers is paramount to designing a composition -- I can't stress this enough. The way flowers fall and intermingle has everything to do with the depth of the vessel the size of its opening. When we teach floral design we always remind students that the flowers need to mimic the shape of the vase -- a low wide compote receives flowers that move low; sprawling horizontally across the top of the vessel. A tall thin cylinder is suitable for a pair of anthurium or a single branch of flowering quince…

A vase for winter anemones should be quite different from one intended for an armload of our farm's dahlias and apple branches this September. The idea of this cross pollination of mediums is the core of what SAIPUA aims to be in the future…an epicenter for artists and craftspeople to make work inspired by nature and each other. I get chills thinking about this vision … and the more time I spend with Julianne or with her work, the more excited I am to have this opportunity to collaborate. 

Julianne is the first of what is intended to be a rotating ceramic artist residency program. A new ceramists every year, making four seasons of custom vases. The idea is to catch a young ceramic artist right at the moment when they are not quite able to afford their own studio space…offering them a residency at Saipua for one year ... free use of the studio in exchange for creating our new Floral Delivery Program vases. Vases which could also be collectors items; encouraging our clients to order seasonally.

So pending any other major structural building issues ... (I won't bore you here///but I will write a chapter in my book about building owners and the NYC contractor racket) … Object and Totem will be completely moved in by May… she's already started -- pictured here is the first batch of spring vases.

That I met Julianne - a seasoned ceramicist with the experience to help us build out the best possible working ceramic studio - when I did is serendipitous timing. We are very lucky. We will aim to keep her inspired and happy here.  And further,  I am open to the idea that we may not want her to leave when her year is up. In which case, similar to so many other aspects of our business, we will rewrite the rules.


UP NEXT in Part II: I will tell you all about our new delivery program; how it aims to solve all the problems with seasonal floral deliveries, fund some major SAIPUA educational projects and bring more of the best local flowers and ceramics to people who are needing a little beauty in their lives.