Thursday, November 22, 2012







[Pictures from Megan's wedding a few weeks ago at the Metropolitan Building. We work on this with Melissa, our former intern - whose new business styled and organized the beautiful event.]

Eric has been working to get the studio back. He seems to like to do it alone, and I've left him to it. Honestly I've really enjoyed a break from physical work.

Really what I've had is a lot of nice time to work away at a very special soap project with my mother (remember we make soap?) that will hopefully help us raise some money to finish our big barn-studio project upstate.

We had our last event of the year, and we're past the planting date at the farm so I am happy to have a little breathing room. So do you want some reflection? Here are ten lessons I've thankfully learned that I would like to share with you:

1. When a client tells you there "will be really important people" at their event and that it will be "a great opportunity for you" I beg you to consider what sort of person actually says this. And then raise your fee to account for the greif you are sure to experience in dealing with such a client.

2. If a client tells you there are going to be important people at their event like Mayor Mike Bloomberg, insist that you be added to the guest list and high tail it to bergdorfs for a dress.

[am I making it sound like these things happen to me? I hope so. But full disclosure, I've never actually been inside Bergdorfs. Although Kat Flower has promised to take me one day]

3. More seriously, one thing that has always helped me is to consider the worst case scenario. For each event I try to think of the worst things that could happen (not including death, which is too final and no fun in this exercise). For example, one tough scenario is truck trouble. Imagine a 100 degree day in an un-refrigerated truck with a sudden flat tire in stop-and-go BQE traffic (enter your own favorite expressway here). Hit the chess timer, go!
What would you do?

4. Always insist on knowing every design detail in advance. The most obvious of these for us is linens, which most of you florists already know to ask about, or else you do them yourself. But what about the other things the wedding planner or bride might bring to the event? If there is a display of naturals at the escort card table being constructed out of moss, or pumpkins, or peacock feathers I certainly want to know about it. First, because likely I can help make it better - after all, naturals are what we do, and secondly because of the value of the photographs. We work to create a cohesive, seamlessly designed event and we want the images to reflect that. If someone thinks it would be a good idea to bring in an ice sculpture as the main event in cocktail hour, I'd like to know about it in advance so I can veto the shit out of that idea. Its taken me a while to realize that it's not us being arrogant, it's us DOING OUR JOBS to make every event look incredible. I hope our clients value that. And the ice sculpture is a bad example because I actually love ice sculpture and plan to bring it back - so watch out!

5. Follow up. I used to be shy about following up. I have no idea why...afraid to look desperate I guess. Now I realize how dumb this is. Personally when someone follows up with me I appreciate it. The only follow up I dislike is when it is someone is emailing cold. But any client you've met with - knows you, hopefully likes you and probably needs the reminder. So just do it and get on with it.

6. Don't lie. EVER. Lies find you, and they fuck you. I know that it would be so easy to lie sometimes, or embellish...You have to cancel a meeting? Just apologize and cancel, but don't make up a story because saying you are sick or stuck in traffic if you are not. It's risky business. Ever watch someone tell a little lie? It's incredibly unattractive. (Except when Agent Brody from Homeland does it.) Also I feel like dishonesty spreads in a business. The more clearly transparent and honest you work to make the client interface, the better.

7. Always hire more help, more freelancers than you think you'll need. This is one of the simplest lessons I've ever learned. You always will need it. I feel so strongly about this I don't even want to explain it. Just trust me on this one.

8. Ribbon bouquets on site. I love doing this because it means we can make big fluffy drippy bows without them getting wrinkled in a vase, and we can use really delicate silks without them getting ruined by sloshing bouquet-vase water. Just plan to have an hour at the wedding venue or hotel or wherever to calmly sit down with all necessary trimmings.

9. Don't do your own breakdown. I know that hiring a breakdown crew is expensive - but this is really important. You have to respect yourself, your talent and your body in this business. I have a really easy solution for covering the cost: pass it to the client. If it costs $250 for a freelancer to drive over and take it all away, explain that. No one has ever argued about a breakdown charge.

10. Be a YES person the day of the event. Things always go awry, someone is going to need an extra boutonniere, a remake of a destroyed flower crown, you might be asked to trim a large branch arrangement even though you like how wild it looks. In my experience it's always easier to yes people to death. And it feels good to say Yes! to people in stressful scenarios, when things are spiraling out of control right before an event goes off. You have your shit together and you just keep saying yes. (See where it would be helpful to have extra hands here?)

I asked Eric to help me think of some of my rules. He laughed at me and told me I should learn to follow my own rules. Like we always say in Flower School, rules are made to be broken. And so yes, sometimes I forget my own lessons.  I don't know about you, but personally, I am very rarely completely happy with an event. I'm a perfectionist and always focus on what could have been better. This seems rather sad as I write it, but it's probably what keeps me in the business. If we got everything right all the time what fun would we have?

Nicolette and I are planning our Australia tour for January; if you live down under and are game for some lessons in person. There's an intensive Weddings 101 weekend long class geared toward florists in the business, and then a fun Arranging 101 class planned. And for those of you state side, more classes are coming for Spring 2013, I promise.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We're at the farm making dinner on the grill.

Saturday, November 10, 2012



things are so crazy here. red hook looks like a war zone as I walk the dog tonight.

we still don't have power at the studio and Eric continues to clean it, everyday suiting up with a respirator and hazmat gear, scrubbing everything salvageable down with bleach, degreaser and soap. we got about 3.5 feet of water and it was contaminated with fuel oil and ... sewage.


we are having to throw out a lot of things, but the damage is not a severe as some of our neighboring businesses and homes - those who had basements where the water reached to the ceiling. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment - ruined. So we feel lucky.

so many people have kindly offered to help, but the process of cleaning feels better alone - better done in our own time at our own thoughtful pace. it feels strangely personal. As the girls and I have been busy with some event prep (and throwing 'pancake parties' as Eric says - I mean we had to eat) the man is left to his own quiet routine. One strictly confined to daylight hours. The cathartic act of pulling every last low-lying vase, urn, box of files, tools (oh! the power tools eric had to chuck...) out from the depths of the studio, considering it for a few moments, and then kicking it to the curb or scrubbing the shit out of it. No pun intended.


it's not nearly as bad as it sounds - we are eating well besides missing Fairway, comfortable and warm in our apt around the corner where the electric is on, and working at Nicolettes studio on flower things. yesterday as I worked on an arrangement there she brought over all her fancy things to show me. like a little kid showing me around her room. "...and this is a piece of akebia vine i cut from my garden 3 weeks ago! and look at how good it still looks! this is my mossy branch, my favorite tillandsia...can i watch you? can I make a centerpiece?"

in the strangest way it's been nice to be in crisis mode, as you know I have a penchant for drama. a few other drama's loom on the horizon tonight...more about them in time. also - we budget now! look at these girls go:


Thursday, November 1, 2012


[let me start by saying it took me about half an hour to try to find an appropriate photo for this, there is none, my apologies for the disconnect.]

I thought I'd emerge from storm drama to engage in another pressing issue - the election. I was really moved today by Mike Bloomberg's bold endorsement of President Obama, not because I have an unexplainable attraction to the Mayor, but because his endorsement centers on precisely the issues I find most important; climate change, rights for gays, health care, gun control and abortion....

Barbara Comstock, an advisor to the Romney campaign, was on the radio last week answering questions for NPR. When asked about Mitt Romney's stand on abortion and women's rights the advisor (she!) said that that was not an important issue to voters...that voters wanted to hear about jobs. About the economy.


Listening to this bobblehead of a woman talking on the radio I nearly wrecked on the west side highway. I came home and started reading the Romney website:

Mitt Romney is pro-life. He believes it speaks well of the country that almost all Americans recognize that abortion is a problem. And in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America. [My blackened heart just started to race]
Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view. But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. [WOW] With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
Mitt supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is an absolutely vital organization devoted to women's health. How has it come to be demonized?

I have depended on Planned Parenthood. It is nothing but a safe, convenient and reliable haven for information and affordable contraception. Nothing but a good place for women. The type of organization that civilized nations like ours should fund.

The religiously zealous pro-life jargon put forth by the political right is so typically male to me. It feels like another century, another country - one in which women are kept from making their own decisions. It's insulting - and it's also a ruse. The 'sanctity of life' is a guise for a very male problem -- not being able to control women.

Further, to gloss over the issue as less important than jobs and the economy is a cop-out. Women without access to family planning and health care become disadvantaged in our economy and ultimately weigh it down. But this argument - regardless of its strength - is unsettling to me. I don't want my reproductive rights lumped in with economic issues. They are intrinsic and should be out of the political realm all together...but we are still so far from that day.

A Romney administration would squander the work of generations of women; putting us back in the kitchen making meatloaf for our husbands like poor Anne Romney. Good grief!