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. 


LPC said...

I can testify that having Saipua flowers helps transform a simple trip to city hall and a Chinese restaurant after into, well, something transcendent. Make sure your bouquet reflects your life philosophy, that's my tip to future Saipua brides of this ilk. <3

Bianca said...

Perhaps a personal wish of mine can come true after all. And more space metaphors please.

yks said...

I was one of those early brides, city hall wedding, bouquet and boutonnière only. You delivered it in person. My direction was simple, orange and dahlias and your magic made it perfect. It was exactly what I wanted and still makes me smile. Trust me, 8 years later I can still picture it and feel the beauty of both the flowers and the day.

Fleurie Flower Studio said...

I love working by myself as well, doing things however the fuck I want to and not thinking up tasks for others to do. I feel I am so much more creative with only myself to blame if something goes sideways.

Heather said...

Thank you for your honesty, it's so reassuring to know that I'm not alone in changing the direction of my business at different points. Sometimes I can't make up my mind exactly what I want it to be, but that's okay because it can be many things, and change along with me. I love to ready our journal, it's always inspiring!

aub said...

you do you, girl-- here's to watching you shoot for the dying stars and hoping we can all share in your stardust in the meantime.

Natalie Ross said...

I FREAKING LOVE your space metaphor! I was like, whoa, this lady knows what's up. And thank you for sharing a peek at what it was like for you in the beginning days. I am not a florist, but I am a newbie business owner, soooo! Thanks for that.

Have you successfully shifted into doing more of the smaller weddings?