How did you start your business?
I ended up in floristry the long round about way! I studied art in college, hated the school I chose, quit. Waited tables. Went back to school and got a degree in horticulture after a co-worker observed I liked plants. Waited tables. Went to floral design school. Waited tables. Did grad work in landscape design. Got fired from my waitressing job and finally settled on floral design! It took 7 months of job hunting to get that first job as I had no “experience” LOL!
After 10 years of working for other flower shops, I opened my own store in 2000. I tried to take jobs that would give me the skills necessary to run my own shop, but I quickly learned how much I didn’t know!
What I did know was that I wanted my store to be different from the typical retail flower shop in my area – I wanted a shop that focused strictly on fresh flowers and plants, with the most interesting selection of fresh flowers out where people could touch them being a top priority. No teddy bears, no balloons, no giftware. (I hate dusting knickknacks!) I was pretty nervous about whether my more European style shop would go over in the aging industrial city of Worcester MA. There was nothing like it, maybe no one was going to “get” what I was trying to do. Eeek!
But I was happily rewarded as more and more people came and remarked how fresh and different my shop was. It’s also very important that Sprout flowers be fun and not intimidating! We have the flowers out of the cooler where everyone can smell them and touch them and put their own bouquets together if they want. Every flower is labeled and priced. I know how much I hate asking the price of something!
I am incredibly fortunate to be only one hour away from the Boston Flower Exchange, a wholesale florist co-op, where I go twice a week and get the most interesting selection of flowers. Any given day we might have six or seven kinds of orchids, king protea, Hawaiian ginger, birds of paradise, Australian tree ferns, South African berzelia berries, Dutch amaryllis…the world of flowers is at my fingertips and I joyfully bring a piece of that back to Worcester.
What is your design aesthetic?
Sprout is known for bright color combinations, interesting textures, and a twist. That said, if you want a single rose, you can certainly get one – though it probably won’t be red or have babies’ breath!
My personal taste in flowers runs towards the simplicity of one or two kinds of flowers at a time. I just think flowers are so beautiful in their own right that they really don’t need much embellishment to be appreciated. Right now I have a bunch of 3 week old carnations on my dining room table, no greens, just plain, but they are one of those vintage looking shades – beetjuice with a greenish taupe edge to them. I only wish they had that great old fashioned carnation smell!
What inspires you?
Where can’t you find inspiration?! Inspiration could be a necklace – http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2009/04/inspiration.html , an outfit – http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2008/07/inspiration.html , or a piece of art – http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2011/01/flora-in-winter-2011-worcester-art.html . It’s all a matter of keeping your eyes and mind open, isn’t it?
What are the trends, flowers & colors that are unique to your region?
I don’t know that this area has any unique trends, but if price and scarcity are any indication “Combo” roses and “Cafe au Lait” dahlias are hot this late summer/ fall of 2011, and for weddings everyone is all about garden roses.
Are you a retail shop, studio/warehouse or home based?
We are a retail storefront, but we do a large portion of our designing out in the front of the shop which gives it a studio feel. It’s not the most productive way to operate, but floral design is highly entertaining for people to watch!
Do you offer any services in addition to floral designs?
I like to think of Sprout as fresh flower experts. We try to do only one thing and do it as best we can.
What does your toolbox look like?
It’s a mess! My travel tool kit usually has stem and ribbon trimmings from whatever event was last set up, half empty water bottles, maps to venues, random blobs of cling. One of my favorite items in the travel kit are neon orange Big Foot door stoppers. They make schlepping lots of flowers a wee bit easier!
What tool in your toolbox can’t you live without?
My best tool is with me all the time…yup, talking about my brain. Floral design is always about problem solving – whether it’s an aesthetic design problem, a structural engineering issue, or the solution to a client’s needs. Nerd talk aside, if you want to see my most used tools, go here – http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2008/12/floral-design-101-tools.html .
What’s your favorite flower?
Whatever is in season this week that won’t be around the next! I’m easily bored, so I tend to buy in abundance any flower that has a short season so I can enjoy it to the max, like bearded iris, dahlias, and boronia – http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2009/04/fresh-from-flower-market.html . I’m also very partial to raspberry peonies and amaryllis, if anyone’s thinking of getting me a gift. And if you could lay your hands on some good quality tuberoses – then I could be in smelly heaven!
Anything else you’d like to share with Flirty Fleurs followers?
I think one of the things that Sprout tries to do is participate in our community. From having a dialogue with fans and friends on Facebook and Twitter, to collecting mittens for our S’Mitten campaign for kids – http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2011/01/are-you-smitten.html , from guerrilla gardening http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2010/06/greening-mean-streets-of-worcester_28.html , to giving away Christmas wreaths to local businesses – http://www.sprout-flowers.com/2010/12/free-christmas-wreaths.html , we try to connect and engage with our community and make our city a better and brighter place for there having been a Sprout.
But it means so much to be part of a community and we don’t ever want to forget that there is no Sprout without the people of Worcester MA.
118 A June Street
Worcester MA 01602
t 508 757 5300