Over the past two days, the lovely Christy of Colonial House of Flowers has been on our Instagram sharing her love of flowers! You may feel like you already know her thanks to her amazing captions that really told the story of CHOF, but if you want to know even more, keep reading for a more in depth look at this talented designer and the inspiring business she’s grown. Be sure to check out the CHOF Instagram as well for more Southern florals & charm!
So tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got started in the flower industry?
I live outside Savannah, Georgia. CHOF team members all live in Georgia including Atlanta, Eatonton, Statesboro, and Nashville. I love my two children, Beatrice & Whitaker, more than anything (pictured below). And my handsome redheaded husband and black cat, Herschel. I was raised in the countryside of South Georgia, a place of uncompromising beauty. It’s always given me a sense of place. Its wilds have stayed with me even as I have grown. I know for certain that my love for making meaningful arrangements that are seasonal and intentional and real comes from my family—memories of gardening with my grandmother and crafting during the holidays with my mom and sister. I am fascinated with the rough hand of nature; positively convinced, that my roots continue to draw me to the uncultivated organic world, classic design, and unconventional materials.
In 2012, I assumed ownership of a little nearly 50-year-old landmark flower boutique that was in my family, called the Colonial House of Flowers. I believe the spirit of my grandmother’s creativity and ability to resourcefully create something sophisticated flutters through everything I do. In 2014, Amanda Currier, my sister, joined the Colonial House of Flowers team. And my husband Brian Hulsey, who is an electrician, hangs our lights. It really is an affair of friends and family. I love this part! I love being a Chapel Designer. I am honored to be in the list of UGA 40 Under 40 most outstanding alumni. There are international bankers, world famous fashion designers and very accomplished professionals on the list. I think I’m the only florist ever to be on that list! And, it makes me smile!
Seasonally relevant flowers, branches, and fruit, are the true medium of my art. I’m ever thankful for my grandmother who always sent me into the garden, who brought me a found plant as a gift, and taught me to dig bulbs, grow cuttings, and stop at random roadside stands on family travels. My mom, dad, and sister, have always believed in me, and my husband has been a constant source of praise and encouragement at all times! And though I studied journalism at the University of Georgia, I believe I am in my life’s true work, as I continue to help people bring simple beauty into their own lives—helping them create things that are sensual and evocative. See more about me here!
How about your team? It looks like you’ve got a close-knit group of people working together in your dreamy little studio!
Right on! We are so close. The team at Colonial House are seriously some of this industry’s most madly talented experts. The company includes artisans as young as 8 years old, teens, college students to 30 year olds to Carolyn who started the shop who is in her 70’s. Plus, Margie Tygart (my grandmother) who frequently forages, grows plants and sources vessels for us, yes I am for real, is 89!! The fact that this art is everlasting is the coolest thing. And that no matter what your age being authentic and original and honest is always appealing. Real is so rare these days. Our motto is it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. We keep a list of mantras like this to keep us true to our attempt to design without conforming, to live without fences and to inspire confidence, kindness and heart led intentions → Our Pinterest Believe Board
CHOF has been featured in publications including, Southern Weddings, Smitten, Paprika Southern, The Savannah Magazine, The Knot and blogs like 100 Layer Cake, Style Me Pretty, Ruffled, Botanical Brouhaha, and Flirty Fleurs among others. CHOF is regularly featured on Pottery Barn Inside & Out and Camp Makery blogs. Without a creative process that encourages grace and a cheerful team that is committed to extraordinary service and design to the last detail all this wouldn’t be possible. People who only care about themselves, the narcissists, don’t last long around here. If I had to describe our team, I’d say they are the most giving, bright people on the planet. Everybody is a cheerleader. The way everyone genuinely boosts each other up is so awesome!
I saw that you have a little garden by your studio from which you bring in fresh clippings everyday to design with. Can you tell me a little bit about that? When and why did you decide to begin growing some of your own flowers?
My grandma and I once foraged wild Queen Anne’s Lace alongside an interstate to bring home for planting, and I’ve loved unceremonious materials ever since. Though the stateliest woman you’ll ever meet she prefers lichen and hand-plucked pinecones with her silver service. I, too, tend to focus on a timeless, elegance that is ethereal, moody and of the garden.
A statue called The Butterfly Girl was erected by the city of Nashville to honor her lifelong service of bringing flowers from her garden to well, to everything! To me, and my sister is the same, it just doesn’t look right if there’s not something in it that’s truly seasonal and that I gathered myself. My sister, who is on the CHOF team, is the exact same. She has been spotted on top of car with a broom handle gathering fresh Spanish moss! It’s not uncommon to see our deliveryman clipping the hedges of someone’s yard (with permission of course). Or, getting a package of something special from someone’s yard. I just have to use it. Even it doesn’t “match”. It means more to me that someone thought of me and took the time to clip it… so, if you spy something unusual in my work it might just be clipped from our garden or given to us by a friend! True story.
Every single arrangement I make has something I have collected myself, or someone has given me. It’s important to me.
What is CHOF’s focus? More retail or do you also do weddings & events?
The doors to our flower shop opened in 1968…. And we’ve been making local flower deliveries ever since. Crazy, I know. But, we have an old-time full service flower shop. Brick & mortar. Our retail shop bustles daily with funeral, new baby, get well soon and just because orders. Plus, we have an in-house espresso bar. A corner shop located in the heart of the Market District of Statesboro, it’s busy! At a time when flower shops are going out of business every day. It’s hard to believe but ours is burgeoning. In fact, it’s been recognized by the University of Georgia as one of the 100 fastest-growing businesses operated by UGA Alumni. That’s out of all the businesses in the world. So, that’s fast growing!
Even though the foundation of our flower shop is in retail. We do weddings and events throughout the South almost daily. Elmer & Carolyn Phillips made the Colonial House of Flowers famous with their dramatic wedding work years ago — even back in the 70’s. You should see those pictures. Families have been using CHOF for years. Weddings & events continue to be a part of our brand and service list. The only difference is the addition of travel to our services, which allows us work in dreamy spots around the country. We hope to work in Paris this year!
How would you describe CHOF’s design style?
Classic with an unexpected twist. Raw. Real. Honest. Un-designed. Effortless. Brought together from the garden.
Which flower varieties are you really excited about for the upcoming season?
Me? All of them, girl! I love all flower varieties. It’s true; I haven’t found one I didn’t like, yet. I am really excited about the gaining momentum of American Grown Flowers. Slow flowers speak to me. I am excited the movement is finally coming to the Southeastern United States. Um well, if I have to pick a fave it’s a Ranunculus. Or, a Peony or Freesia. Or, Blushing Bride protea. Really, anything Charity sends me. I love her pulls!
Let’s talk tools. Favorite florist tool, and favorite social media app for marketing yourself? If you’re using anything besides Instagram & Facebook, we’d love to hear what else florists are starting to use!
My favorite florist tool is an old school frog, a really good one. But, I don’t get to use them as often as I’d like. The oasis foam and tape is better for transport.
Our fans are incredible. We connect with them daily through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Periscope. Instagram and Pinterest are the ones we adore the most. What we enjoy most is collaborating with others in our industry to show people just how easy it is to incorporate flowers into everyday life, how easy it is to use things you already have on hand.
Our social media includes collaborations with other brands that we really, truly love. Some examples are Cameron Hughes Wine, Rosaprima Roses, Syndicate Sales, Camp Makery, Wedding Chicks, Style Me Pretty and Pottery Barn. I am enjoying our relationship with Pottery Barn the most! Pottery Barn Inside & Out blog has featured our flower making tutorials every season for the past few years like How To Make A Flower Girl Halo or DIY: Cake Stand Centerpiece. Our tutorials are also featured onCamp Makery. Check them out, you’ll see some Mayesh flowers in there!
What’s the most memorable or favorite event/shoot you’ve worked on?
Well, it’s not the most famous shoot we’ve ever done. But, the time my family came together to share my Grandmother’s pound cake recipe for Camp Makery and Pottery Barn is the one I treasure most. We all happen to be together in Nashville at the same time so my sister and I pulled it together on a whim. Javon Longieliere Photography met us in the middle of nowhere; actually it was the place where my parents got married, the day after Thanksgiving. Seeing all the generations in my Mother’s family together making the flower arrangements and setting the table is really special to me.
One of my favorite weddings was a French Industrial wedding in Atlanta. It was styled by my dear friend Lauren Weems of Camp Makery. My aunt and I did all the flowers at her Lake Oconee home. My Uncle kept us fed and in good spirits. And, my cousin and husband did the lights. We had the best time!
What is one piece of advice you’d like to go back and tell yourself during your first year of designing?
Dear Christy, Your greatness is not what you have. It’s what you give. So hang in there. Keep giving all the love and good vibes you’ve got to those flowers, those people, and yourself. Keep trying. Kindness matters and actions speak louder than words. You know this is gonna be tough. But you’ve done harder things. Keep being honest. Authentic. And you. Listen to that inner voice when you’re collecting and arranging and building your tribe. Lift others up and let go of the things that don’t matter. And stop apologizing for saying no. Your arrangements are going to reflect what’s in your heart – the people and the energy in there. So, appreciate all the love and gracious people in your life. Be confident, believe in yourself and give yourself grace. Be happy. There’s beauty everywhere when you stop looking for flaws. Life and beauty are fleeting so keep living it up and making things that mean the most beautiful to you! You go girl! Don’t stop. Get it. Get it! 🙂 Xx! Christy