Five Sustainable Floral Products to Green Your Designs
Let’s face it, weddings and corporate events can be massively wasteful. But your floral shop doesn’t have to be. In fact, in the upper left corner of this country, it’s a selling point to operate a greener floral studio with sustainable products and techniques. Our clients seek out ways to live more responsibly and love knowing that their decor isn’t unnecessarily wasteful.
We gauge wastefulness by weighing the material’s life cycle. Start of life, during life, and after life. So with this in mind, something like bioboard is less wasteful than styrofoam or foamcore. Floral Soil is less wasteful (if at all) than floral foam.
At the start of life, how was the material created and what pollutants and general yuckies were created by its production? Was it grown? Super. Was it grown locally without chemicals and practices that might pollute waterways and harm insects? Super Duper!!! Was it made from previously recycled content? Love that. How was it shipped?
During it’s life in our studio, how many times can we reuse it? Can we make it into a quality, long-lived piece that our clients will want to keep? Does it give me a mysterious rash? Can my dog eat it?
When we are done with it, where does it go? Can it be recycled? Can it be composted? Can we rent it out again?
Now I’ll admit there is a stockpile of adhesives and paints in our studio that are nowhere near Super Duper, Gold Star Life Cycle Rating, but we do what we can where we can and are always on the lookout for materials that better fit our goals.
Here are a few materials you can be confident in and start using immediately that won’t raise eyebrows.
1. Bioboard: Made originally for printing, this stuff comes in 1/4 inch to 1″ thicknesses and 4X8 foot sheets. It’s extremely light and strong. We use this in place of foam-core, styro sheets, masonite, and even sometimes wood. Don’t get water on it though, because it will dissolve fast. We use this to build scenes, 3D shapes, and support for flower walls. Photo is provided by Laird Plastics, our Seattle source for BioBoard.
2. Floral Soil: currently ramping up production is floral soil solutions, a water- holding, bio=based compound that will replace toxic floral foam. Get on the list to get your own stash and experiment with how it works, including tall arrangements that were once so improbable in a studio without foam. It can be reused for a time, and then tossed into your compost nary a concern. Photo sourced from the Floral Soil Website .
3. Sticks: So versatile, seriously. ‘Le Stick’ is practically used everyday in our studio to create volume and a transport- proof armature in which to stick our stems. Even in low, wide arrangements, a tape grid and a stick armature is all you need to create a secure centerpiece with volume. Haven’t mastered ‘Le Stick’? Try it out in our centerpiece workshop Coming up May 7th! Click Here.
4. Moss: Nature’s natural sponge that holds moisture for days. Use as a matrix for holding stems in place over an opaque container or mass into a ball for a natural sculpture. Both uses eliminate the need for floral foam.
5. Local Flowers: They’re not just prettier but they haven’t traveled long distances. Local allows you to have greater knowledge of how your flowers were raised and supports local business. With the right growers, you can work together to ensure you are getting all those great, strange flowers that are extra special. Nothing conveys specialness than pointing out a flower and telling them about the person who grew it for them. That’s just love and specialness all over the place.
Again, if you’d like to learn more about sustainable floral design practices and all sorts of behind the scenes fun, join our community by subscribing to our email list. Also, if you know of someone else who may think this is helpful, please send it to them!
The Pursuit of Ease… (and pruning)
Ease. Just the word alone lengthens in your mouth and softens posture. It’s the word 97% of my clients use to describe their perfect social party. It’s also the word I use to lure my business and personal life along toward success.
Ease is not lazy. It describes calmness and stillness but also connection and alertness. Ease accepts what is happening now and observes, taking on new obstacles as they come up. This is especially important to me in a business that has a lot of ambiguity. Sanity and resourcefulness comes from being able to ease the mind, observe, stay connected, and adjust as necessary.
As I write, I’m wearing a flowey tunic from Free People (clothing to promote ease), and thinking about other ways ease is working (or trying to work) in my life and biz.
Maybe it’s because late winter/ early spring is the perfect time for tree pruning, but I can’t help but think about pruning and its metaphoric application in other areas of life. When you prune a tree, you keep the big picture in mind. What is the natural shape of this tree, where does it want to go? Then you select a few branches as the structural elements that will get your tree to its balanced shape. Remove branches surrounding these branches that are not structurally sound, unhealthy, or even healthy branches that rub (or will rub) against your selected branches. This way, your selected branches will have space, more light, more air circulation, and all the tree’s resources can be redirected to the strong parts. New branches will form on these strong parts and fill out your tree. Finally, don’t remove too much at once or your tree may not be able to adjust in time.
Ease in event design first has a lot to do with movement and space, clarity, and editing. Before guests can be wowed, they must be at ease. Guests can move their bodies and ease easily throughout the space. It’s not cluttered, there is a hierarchy of attention grabbers, and physical and sensory obstacles are minimized. The message is clear and your guests are comfortable.
Ease in flowers comes naturally in the garden. Ease in floral design comes from observing nature and mimicking shape. Floral designs with ease have an air of natural form. There’s also a curvature and sort of supported heaviness that comes from a thin stem working against gravity to hold up a big, fat bloom. It’s appropriately scaled and like event design, ease in floral design limits visual obstacles to a few attention seeking contrasts.
This bouquet for Adrianne and Michael was one of my favorite bouquets. It’s whole air of the day was full of ease. Oh, and it was definitely NOT easy to make. It’s a good reminder that the pursuit of ease takes a lot of refocus.
New Perspectives and Long Car Rides/ Grateful
A new place, a change in routine, will inevitably wiggle your brain enough to gain some new perspective. Or rather, some old wisdom that you already know and need to be reminded.
This is happening today as I drive home from Thanksgiving in South East Washington with a too-big dog in my lap, and my sweetie pie driving, also lost in thought. Outside my window the scene is always changing: canyon, hills, shack tucked into a hillside, forest, river, pond dotted field. The east side of the state is a landscape that always seems thirsty, even in winter. The state is dissected by a mountain range. On the west is our home, squishy with rain and always alive, even in winter. This Thanksgiving had been one of smallness and simplicity. It was nice. Now, facing the mountains, I am thinking about the projects that need finishing; life and business always under construction. Up until this point, all that crazy thought had been still, just like this landscape of long, sweeping, shapes. And now trying to think of life on the other side of the mountains, the edges are blurry and pulled out.
It’s easy to get caught up in creating a certain kind of life and wonderful to find yourself in a new place, away from things that are familiar, dreaming of endless possibilities. It reminds me that lives can be made over in a hundred different ways. In a place where there are less edges, it’s comforting to know that the edges of the path I think I’m on are not so distinct.
taxes, payroll, grassland
The edges of this landscape are connected, and fuzzy. They’re not really edges at all. Not like the hard edges of a thousand things in a cluttered workshop. The sky doesn’t really break and suddenly become trees, the east doesn’t break and become west. It’s a great reminder, on a day for gratefulness, to let it all seep in and blur the edges; and when we lift our head up, to reach back out.
The Problem with Creativity/ 7 ways to tackle your block
The problem with creativity is… it’s messy. Not in the tripping over boxes, duct tape stuck to my sneaker, branch in the eye type of messy (that’s the type I can tolerate), but messy in terms of delivering something tangible from a bunch of buzzing farts of ideas. You have a deadline, a bunch of half-baked thoughts, some doodles, and dang it, you are hungry. Maybe you just need a little snack and then you’ll be ready to go. Uh- oh. Below is a mish mash of problems I face, and things my inner #girlboss tells my whiney, playful, and sleepy parts to get my act together.
1. I have too many ideas. If you are like me, your thought process is not a straight line. It’s not even a circle. It’s like a suckering shrub with tangents sprouting off to produce their own family of ideas. Sometimes it’s difficult even to figure out where it all began. At some point, I have to tell myself to stop. From the suckering idea shrub, I connect the lichen growing on one branch over here to the sprig over here to the root over here and, BAM, a thing/ idea. It’s an overwhelming thing to begin but it is my process.
My best lesson was taught to me by the creative director at the first firm I ever worked at. I was designing a courtyard for a condo. He told me I had four hours to have an initial concept over to my new client, my eyeballs nearly fell out. After four hours I was still drawing like mad and grumbling that I needed more time. My director ripped the drawing from my hand, scanned it, and emailed it directly to my client, incomplete. I needed that lesson in order to learn how to give myself limits. At some point, it’s time to stop and move forward with the material in front of us.
2. I need better tools. I find myself using this excuse a lot. The fact is, I can probably use what I’ve got and the restriction may even produce something even better than I had imagined. Needing more or better tools won’t solve my procrastination problem, but if may create a money problem.
3. It’s so big, I can’t begin (enter procrastination). This is halfway correct. It is big. So, I must begin. My favorite quote is this: “It’s such a big dream, I can’t see it all.” by Edward S. Curtis- Seattle pioneer and photography adventurer. I know from experience that I always come up with something. And I can count on one hand the number of times I knew how it would end when looked at from the starting line. So… GO! If you are having trouble figuring out how, maybe this video will help you. I mean, if George the Poet can do it, you can too.
4. I have so many things to do. Multitasking is an illusion. Great multitaskers are just those people who can break focus, focus on something else, and then swap over to a new task. It’s not that they are doing many things at the same time, they are just doing many different singular things in a small amount of time. But at any one time, they are doing only one thing. When I am doing too many things at once, I am most likely doing them poorly and more slowly. Practice juggling.
5. My client/ boss’ control problem is stifling my creativity. Oy. Well first, the real problem to first apply your creativity to is the client’s project problem, so try shutting out any of the human drama. Apply your creativity within their constraints without the ‘don’t tread on me’ feelings. Then have a conversation or find a new boss or client to explain how you best work. Employers want their people to do their best and need to know when they are holding things back. For clients, at some point you’ll be able to build clients that trust you. For me, my best work comes when I can follow a thread of an idea and just see where it leads. Instead of madly trying to come up with interesting combinations of ideas under duress, the process is more exploratory. This is when it becomes really fun for me and my best clients know they will get way more than they paid for.
6. I’m stuck. Ya, it happens. Probably your brain needs to work on something else. I know I make the best connections while driving or after a nap. Maybe your brain needs a bit of time and a change of activity in order to organize your thoughts into genius. If I haven’t even started, a trip to the art museum or a coffee and copy of bomb or elle decor will usually give my brain a new direction and unanticipated focus.
7. No really, I’m stuck. My desk collapsed on me and I can’t get up.
Oh dang! Sorry buddy, that’s all you. Do you have any of those tools we discussed handy?
Vulnerability: Teachings from Pharell and Brene Brown
When I’m procrastinating and need a kick in the a**, I like to throw on a quick TED talk. This one on Vulnerability by Brene Brown was particularly eye-opening.
It’s message of courage, openness, and wholeheartedness is one that I personally strive for. These qualities are also necessary to achieve the kind of boldness, creative thought, and success for my business, Lola Creative to thrive. I am also amazed whenever I see a speaker who can address a crowd as if they are her best girlfriend. This lady can speak two words and I am already drawn in. In a nutshell, it teaches that our belief in our vulnerability as the source of what makes us special, is the key to joy. Also that connection requires vulnerability because it reveals our authentic selves.
This is particularly useful in business, where vulnerability can be viewed as something less than professional. It’s scary because it admits some degree of uncertainty. In my industry, uncertainty is necessary, nobody knows exactly what will happen at an event because all the pieces have never come together in the same time and place. All we can do is prepare. Even still, confidence, even if unfounded, can be a bigger sell to a hesitant client than a bold idea. Everyone has someone to impress but our clients have one shot to nail it. To fail at a lofty goal is so scary, many would rather choose the safer option to make the potential fall less scary. Several times we’ve been in the situation where we’ve proposed a bold idea or experimental approach only to find that later, it needs tweaking. It will have to be modified. This has sometimes been stressful for our clients who are reluctant to relay an alternate to their higher-ups for fear of looking incompetent. We’ve even been tempted to simplify our offerings to what is easily accomplished. We also have been tempted to express over confidence in the beginning when really, “Yes, absolutely this can be done!” actually means, “Yes, absolutely we are capable of doing this, until we can’t. And at that point we will move to another awesome idea that will work better.” Brene’s message is a wonderful reminder that new paths are uncertain, but also yield exciting results. Experimentation and creative acts are vulnerable endeavors and if vulnerability leads to joy. Than the path to the “hell yeah” business that we want rife with uncertain moments.
With all this on my mind, later in the week I went to my number 2 time waster, reality TV. The Voice is on and this past week I was surprised to see Brene’s findings echoed in the coaching of Pharrell Williams. To a rejected Bianca Espina, he said, It’s not about the chairs,”It’s about your great time.”
The idea that as a creative professional, if you are to draw people in, your ‘performance’ must be authentic, bold, and vulnerable. You must be so into your thing, that it’s play, and the audience reaction becomes more of an observation and learning process than a judgement call.
Next we’ll talk about building trusting clients who value a bold approach.
And speaking of vulnerability, stay tuned for a very uncertain situation, our first big event using tall floral arrangements without floral foam… In a glass house… midsummer. Yowza.