How did you start your business?
I was a buyer for Nordstrom and other department stores for many years before I started
in flowers. I wanted a more creative outlet and more control of my own destiny. My
parents were self-employed and set a good example. When I was looking to make a
change, I worked with a career counselor to find a new career path and one of the things
that kept coming up was combining creativity with entrepreneurship. Owning a flower
shop fit that bill very well. I knew that starting a flower shop wouldn’t be easy so I
looked for an existing shop to purchase. One of the things that I knew from working for
Nordstrom was that you buy the best and you can’t go wrong. Fiori Floral Design was
just that. Since then we’ve been voted the best florist in Seattle by several websites and
received many awards.
While it wasn’t a passion for flowers alone that got me into the flower business, that
passion has grown with time as I have seen the effect that flowers have on people. What
other business is there for people for all major milestones: birth, marriage, death,
birthdays, illness, declarations of love? I think about that with every arrangement that I
create. I truly believe that what we think about when we are making art comes out and is
infused into what we create. So when creating a “get well” floral, I think healing
thoughts. I think thoughts of comfort when creating a sympathy arrangement. I think
thoughts of love and passion when working on a wedding. That can be difficult during
busy holidays and is one of the reasons why I don’t design at Valentine’s Day. I’m
juggling too many hats making sure things run smoothly so that my designers are free to
put that energy into what they are creating.
How many years have you been in business?
Fiori Floral Design was started in 1994 but I purchased the business in 2003.
How do you create your style and where do you draw your inspiration?
Fiori has always had a particular look: refined pavé style arrangements with interesting
elements and only premium flowers. I’ve perhaps defined the style for Fiori capitalizing
on an existing template more than creating it. My formula for a typical Fiori floral is
this: hydrangea, feature flowers, accent flowers, accent greens such as scented geranium
or mint, cymbidium orchids and fruit. Every week we select a color palette which is
generally monochromatic. All of the flowers that I buy fit into that palette so I know
everything is going to work together to create a cohesive arrangement. The palettes are
usually inspired by one element or two elements and how they look together, although
sometimes I will see color combinations in an ad or garment and match the flowers to
that. I then build from that selecting hydrangea, feature flowers, accent flowers and
orchids to allow us to create florals in every price point.
Doing this has given me exposure to flowers in all price points which helps when
designing arrangements to fit a client’s budget. Give me just about any palette and I can
find the flowers to make just about any reasonable budget work.
What are the trends, flowers & colors that are unique to your region?
We are so fortunate here in the Northwest to have access to a lot of locally grown flowers
during the growing season. We are close to the growers in California and the auction in
Vancouver, BC as well. That affects what we use in a big way because locally grown
flowers are going to be more reasonable in price. So when local peonies, lilacs and
dahlias are in season, we tend to go after them in a big way.
Are you a retail shop, studio/warehouse or home based?
We are a hybrid of studio with a retail setting. Everything we do is custom so you can’t
walk in and just pick up an arrangement or cards or gifts but we do have a front of the
shop for meeting with clients and display. We use this area as overflow during big
events and holidays and for students to take breaks during classes.
Do you offer any services in addition to floral designs?
My favorite thing to do is to teach classes in pavé floral design. I offer six or seven
public classes a year and many private classes for groups of six or more. The private
classes are a lot of fun because everyone knows each other and guests are able to bring
wine to share. It creates a relaxed and festive atmosphere. I love the look on my
student’s faces at the end of the night when they are taking home the arrangement that
they have created.
We also do a lot of holiday decor for private residences and businesses. It keeps us really
busy from the end of November through the middle of December.
We are also very well known for our orchid plants.
What tool in your toolbox can’t you live without?
I always pack it with a little of everything that is specific to each event but I couldn’t live
without a really good pair of ribbon scissors. I have them sharpened every two months
and treat them like they are my baby.
What’s your favorite flower?
Hands down my favorite flower is the peony. The have a short local season and are
available in a variety colors so I never have a chance to get tired of them. They become
even more precious to me when they are out of season. I’m always a bit sad when the
local season ends and they become priced like they are made from 18 karat gold again.
I’d never grown peonies until I bought my house 12 years ago. There were peonies
already in the yard that bloomed about a month after I moved in. I cut some and brought
them in. The scent filled the entire house. I’ve been smitten ever since.
Anything else you’d like to share with Flirty Fleurs followers?
Be different and know your style. We have a particular look at Fiori Floral Design
that we rarely vary from for our daily orders. While we do custom work for weddings
and events that may not match our daily style, we built our reputation with consistent,
quality pavé design. I don’t do long-stemmed roses and I don’t offer English garden style
through Fiori. I can’t be everything to everybody but our customer’s know they are what
they are going to get when they order.
For those customers who are looking for something different than what we offer or lower
price points, I created a second brand: Lavender & Vine Florists that I can refer them to.
It is all created in the same space with the same team of talented designers and allows me
to say yes to customers I might have otherwise told no and avoids diluting the Fiori Floral
Design brand. I will be folding Lavender & Vine into a third shop that I bought last year
when the owner was looking to get out from under the stress of owning a shop.