This week, as I’m getting ready to teach some floral design classes, I want to share a little bit of the story of my love affair with flowers, how it began and why it drives me to share my passion with you ~ because, in a very real sense, flowers have the power to lift our hearts, to make us happy!
How I got started…
Several decades ago (1970s), we had just moved from the island of Maui to northern CA. I had 3 small children, including baby Hillary (see end of post), and because of some financial setbacks revolving around the sale of our former home, I was looking for a way to make a little extra cash. A friend and I came up with the idea of holding a little “boutique” in my home, where we would sell our homemade & handmade wares and see if anyone would buy them.
We worked very hard, inventing all the details as we went. We had never heard of an in-home boutique before; in those days, no such thing existed, to our knowledge, at least. Amidst many nerves and fears and sleepless nights spent working on craft items, the show day came. Lots of curious, dear people came, and they bought and everyone was happy!
That show was in October, and I remember someone asking me: “Do you do any Christmas decorations to sell?” It was something I had never even considered (since all this was so new to us), but that little idea blossomed into an annual Christmas season boutique filled with holiday designs created by me, a show that went on for over 40 years! Who could possibly have predicted that?!?
I filled my big home with hundreds of unique holiday designs ~ from wreaths, ornaments and small Christmas trees to elegant or fanciful arrangements and centerpieces ~ and my show grew into the most wonderful event, where people lined up down the block and waited for hours till we opened the doors.
There was such a spirit of fun and excitement, and over time the young mothers who originally came began bringing their young daughters and then their grandbabies to the festivities. What a joyful experience!!
How I started teaching classes…
I became known as a “flower lady” in my local area, and I began to get requests to teach classes and show women how to create floral designs for themselves. Soon, I was presenting classes to women’s clubs and church groups ~ and I found that to be even more fun and fulfilling, as I was able to interact more personally with these wonderful people who came to learn and improve their skills.
How my wedding work began…
So, there I was, hosting shows, teaching floral design classes and raising my sweet little family, which, over the years, had grown from 3 to 7 lively children.
I was busy! But in the midst of being a mom (the job I had always wanted more than ANY other in the world), and all the challenges that came with it, I had my flower work! And even though it was very part-time, I always managed to make the time for any opportunity that came along to share my flower-love with others.
Then, one fine day, a friend approached me and declared boldly that I would be arranging the fresh flowers for her daughter’s wedding! I was stunned. I didn’t DO fresh flowers! There is a whole enormous added dimension to working with living, delicate, perishable flowers ~ and I had NO experience in that area. But she was adamant, and even though I was very afraid to take on something so formidable as fresh flowers for a beautiful wedding… something inside me just forced me to say YES!
And so began the glorious adventure of becoming a wedding florist, and now well over 400 wedding jobs later ~ I look back and can scarcely believe how much joy has come to me because I said that first YES.
My angel assistant:
As the years have passed, my ability to “do it all myself,’ especially the extremely demanding work of fresh-flower weddings, has decreased ~ and I have been blessed beyond words to have had occasional help from dear friends, my daughters, and especially my oldest, Hillary.
Along the way, as we have had so many fun adventures in this work, Hillary has become my main assistant, and we have discovered she has the same gift; in fact, our work has become almost identical. Although flower work is not HER passion, she is a willing and cheerful partner in this wonderful venture, and she literally makes it possible for me to continue spreading flower-joy.
Stay tuned for Part 2. XOXO