If you have been following my blog, you are probably noticing that I am getting a ton of support from other Mayesh team members. Again, interviews is something that I have wanted to do a while, but just never found the time. Sabrina, your correspondent, is helping on this front and I really love the first interview that she brought to the table. We all have different designers that we follow and Sabrina really loves a company called Honey of a Thousand Flowers. And that is where our interviewing journey begins.
A note from Sabrina:
Sarah Winward from Salt Lake City, UT is another great example of the power of social media and blogging. She recently also collaborated with a blog called Ruffled check out her post, http://ruffledblog.com/pieris-japonica-wedding-flower/. She is a fun young florist who knows the power of networking. I recently put her in contact with Liz from The Nouveau Romantics in Austin, TX – they now exchange ideas. My favorite blog post thus far is http://sarahjwinward.blogspot.com/2011/03/ballet.html – be sure to check it out (after your done with this post of course). And don’t forget to check out her great website too: http://www.sarahwinward.com/.
Read on for the interview with Sarah Winward, owner of Honey of a Thousand Flowers:
There was one particular week this spring where I had appointments back to back for several days in a row. I realized that I had a pretty good “consultation outfit” down and that I was getting the hang of meeting with people. That is when it hit me, and I was really happy. I never really planned on working in the floral industry. When I realized that I had made my way there I felt that this was where I was meant to be all along. I am still excited about how right it feels.
(photo credit: Diana Palmer of Yan photography)
We all want to know how you came to name your business “Honey of a Thousand Flowers”?
I keep a hive of bees in my back yard. I have the big white suit, a smoker, the whole shebang. On a visit to Morocco I had the opportunity to meet a friend of a friend there who is also a bee keeper. He packs his bees all around the Atlas mountains so that their honey is flavored like what is blooming around them at that particular time. He makes orange blossom honey, thyme honey, cactus honey, and many more. He asked what kind of honey my bees make. I told him “wild honey”. That is what we call it when the bees gather nectars from whatever is around them. We live in the city so the bees get a whole mix of flowers, so their honey doesn’t have one strong note (except for this year, it tastes of roses!). He thought for a minute, not sure he understood what I was saying, and then said “we call that honey of a thousand flowers”. I fell in love with it instantly. I have studied Arabic and love the language. It elaborates on words and phrases when English shortens them. It felt so fitting to name my business Honey of a Thousand Flowers. My flowers are a product of everything that is around me. Sometimes, quite literally.
How did you start your business?
One wedding at a time. I did my best friends, a friend’s friends, then a complete stranger’s wedding. My business was built very organically, one step at a time.
How would you describe your design style?
This is a tricky thing to put into words…I think my style is natural and eclectic. I like a large mix of flowers and styles, when you put them all together, you get my work.
What or who inspires you?
Nature is my biggest inspiration. I am inspired by my environment, and view my work is an extension of my surroundings. I love the colors and textures that are in nature and that is usually where the inspiration for a design begins.
What floral tool can you not live without?
This is tricky. I can tear pretty much any stem or branch with my bare hands-a skill acquired from much road side flower picking. If I cant tear it I can find something sharp to slide it along to cut it. I can tie flowers together with strong strands of grass or nylons found in a rental car (done it)…but I can’t arrange in a vase the way I like to without chicken wire (or foam).
Indian paint brush. They grow wild in the mountains here. Maybe I love them the most because you can’t really buy them freshly cut (or can you, Mayesh?). I love their shapes and the way they vary slightly in color. Seeing the change in color from cluster to cluster in a field is what I really love.
(Photo Credit: Sarah Winward)
Tell us a short floral story. Have you ever had a strange floral request? Created something wonderful out of a sticky situation? Have you ever felt like MacGyver and used your mad floral skills in a non-floral situation?
My favorite arrangements have been made out of leftovers or from flowers I’ve picked on my own. I think that half of being a florist is being a confident MacGyver. So many people stop dead in their tracks when there is a logistical problem…a florist just whips out the glue gun, table saw, or floral foam and gets to work.
I can’t resist picking pretty flowers when I see them, especially if they are growing wild. One particular time I went on a hike in the afternoon to get some wild flowers for a shoot the next day. I brought my clippers and started heading back down the trail after I had gotten the goods. I was a bit self conscious about the glances from passersby, I was worried I was going to get caught and fined for picking wild flowers. I passed several policeman on my way down the canyon. One pulled over and spoke into his walkie while making direct eye contact with me. I was counting the stems I had clipped and trying to calculate what the fine would be if I were caught when I got to bottom of the canyon where I was flagged down by a another officer. Oh great, this was it, I thought. I shoved the flowers under the seat and could feel my cheeks getting red.
Officer: “Hi, did you just come from the trail?”
Me: “I did.”
Officer: “Alright, well we are looking for a flasher”.
My mind is racing, I’m not thinking straight. A flasher? Like a light? Someone stole a light from the canyon?
Me: “Um, I don’t know what that is?”
Officer: (smiles) “you know” (makes the motion of a woman lifting up her shirt) “A flasher?”
Me: “oooohhh, um no. It wasn’t me.”
Officer: “Um alright, have a nice day”
What is your favorite color combination right now?
Burgundy and/or rusty red with different pinks. It is still something I am trying to get good at, but I would like to work on because it really intrigues me.
What is your best piece of advice for new comers into the floral industry?
To keep putting content out, even if it something you are making just for yourself. I got started by making flower arrangements from flowers in my yard and then posting them on my blog. It made me confident enough to do friends weddings, and then eventually accept clients. Just keep working with flowers. The more comfortable you are with them, the better your work will be. Also, take inspiration from what inspires you, and not only from looking at other florist’s work. That is what will make your designs yours, and not a repeat of everything else that is on the internet.
Let us know if you’ve enjoyed our first interview and if you have any ideas on who you would like to see in future interviews!