Debra Prinzing

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Studio Choo’s Jill Rizzo and Alethea Harampolis on The Wreath Recipe Book (Episode 166)

November 5th, 2014

Jill Rizzo (left) and Alethea Harampolis (right).

Jill Rizzo (left) and Alethea Harampolis (right).

I’m so pleased to welcome Slow Flowers Members Jill Rizzo and Alethea Harampolis. Floral designers and founders of SF-based Studio Choo, they have a carefree, nature-inspired design philosophy that touches everything they create.

As a floral design shop, studio and boutique, Studio Choo focuses as much as possible on locally-sourced flowers and plants, styled with a nod to the wild and untamed.

You have a chance to win a free copy of their newest project, The Wreath Recipe Book, courtesy of publisher Artisan. To enter, please post a comment below about YOUR FAVORITE wreath ingredient from nature, the woodland, the garden or flower fields.

You must post a comment in order to enter a drawing to win a free copy of this lovely new book. The drawing will take place at 5 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday, November 8th and I’ll announce the winner on the Nov. 12th episode of The Slow Flowers Podcast.

COVER.The_Wreath_Recipe_Book._HIGH_RES

Alethea and Jill originally met and worked together at an esteemed flower shop in San Francisco. Their shared passion led them to found Studio Choo in 2009.

After many weddings, deliveries and penning their first book, The Flower Recipe Book, Studio Choo expanded into a new studio space in South San Francisco last year. The Flower Recipe Book took them across the nation, teaching design classes in massive markets, quaint shops and beautiful farms. When they returned home, they worked tirelessly to turn their studio into a unique expanse devoted to design classes, an apothecary, a workspace for weddings and events, a well-curated shop and a place to honor the love of flowers that started it all.

Late winter-early spring: A camellia branch with a swag made of 65 little hyacinth blooms.

Late winter-early spring: A camellia branch with a swag made of 65 little hyacinth blooms.

I’ve gotten to know Jill and Alethea over the past few years, reviewing The Flower Recipe Book for Sunset magazine, hosting their book-signing presentation for florists at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, and inviting them to the stage when I produced the floral design workshops at the SF Flower & Garden Show last March. But due to the fact that we live and work in different cities, I simply had not been able to record a Studio Choo interview.

Welcome to the Studio Choo shop.

Welcome to the Studio Choo shop.

Last month, I took a last minute trip to SF and while there, I invited myself to visit the new Studio Choo space. *Thanks Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers for the lift – I’m so glad you got to stop by, too.

Even though it was a Friday and flowers for a few weddings were in production, Jill and Alethea were so sweet to take a half an hour and talk about their latest project — JUST OUT — “The Wreath Recipe Book: Year-Round Wreaths, Swags, and Other Decorations to Make with Seasonal Branches”

A wistful spring wreath uses flowering dogwood branches, sheet moss and earthy mushrooms.

A wistful spring wreath uses flowering dogwood branches, sheet moss and earthy mushrooms.

Using the same recipe-like approach to seasonal branches that they presented with cut flower arrangements in the Flower Recipe Book, this time Jill and Alethea employ the same clear format in explaining how to make wreaths, table settings, napkin rings, package toppers, wall hangings, and other branch-based decorations.

A gorgeous garland with cotoneaster branches, pomegranates, purple sage and strawflowers.

A gorgeous garland with cotoneaster branches, pomegranates, purple sage and strawflowers.

Divided into Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and based on when the main plant “ingredients” are available. Ingredient lists and step-by-step photographs give readers a starting point for trying these recipes and adapting each to one’s own aesthetic and style.

Here's that amazing Tahoe wreath Alethea just made, using foraged material from her recent vacation.

Here’s that amazing Tahoe wreath Alethea just made, using foraged material from her recent vacation.

I know you’ll enjoy our conversation about Studio Choo, and how Jill and Alethea blend their unique point of view as designers with a dynamic business model that takes them in some very unexpected places. Alethea has just launched her own scent collection called Snake Face and together the two are cooking up workshops and other creative endeavors for the year to come.

Bittersweet wreath with fall chrysanthemums, marigolds and safflowers.

Bittersweet wreath with fall chrysanthemums, marigolds and safflowers.

And here’s some background on this dynamic duo:

Studio Choo BFFs.

Studio Choo BFFs.

Alethea spent her time before Studio Choo as an estate gardener in Seattle where she managed the wet and wild rolling hills of the city’s rich and famous. After working in other boutique flower shops perfecting her art, she returned to her native Bay Area to settle back in.

Jill grew up with her mother, aunt, and uncle all running their own flower shops, so it now seems only natural that she would do the same. After spending her childhood in Rhode Island learning the difference between roses and ranunculus, she graduated with a degree in illustration from Parsons School of Design and moved to San Francisco to try life out west.

Studio Choo started with a sneeze. Jill’s tiny sneeze, to be exact. It was so small Alethea remarked upon this tiny sneeze and thus “Choo” became a shared nickname between the two. They remained friends when Alethea left the Bay Area, and they dreamed of starting a business together one day. Upon Alethea’s return a few years later (early 2009), they finally took the plunge to open their floral studio and the eponymous Studio Choo was born.

Studio Choo's Friday deliveries, ready to go.

Studio Choo’s Friday deliveries, ready to go.

Jill and Alethea encourage their readers and customers alike to bring the outdoors into our homes and celebrate the special qualities of each season.To find inspiration in plants that are in season wherever you to live — I wholeheartedly endorse this philosophy because it’s at the heart of what the Slow Flowers Movement is all about.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast nearly 25,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

20 Responses to “SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Studio Choo’s Jill Rizzo and Alethea Harampolis on The Wreath Recipe Book (Episode 166)”

  1. Andrea Clemens Says:

    Great podcast and article! My favorite wreath ingredients has got to be the sweet little mushrooms.

  2. Mary Beth Says:

    Swoon!! Studio Choo gals are so talented. I love to use anything edible (of course!) but right now I’m coveting the hundreds of eucalyptus plants on our nursery. I want to create lots for the holidays!

  3. Susie Johnson Says:

    I’m always fascinated by what inspires someone’s choice of a name for their children, pets, or in this case, their business. Got a kick out of the origin of Studio Choo’s name being a tiny sneeze! I’m a FB fan of theirs!

  4. Kim Says:

    Thanks for doing this interview! I like tucking rosehips into wreaths.

  5. Kailla Platt Says:

    Love Studio Choo’s work! I love using hops vines green especially, but also dried.

  6. Katherine Glazier Says:

    My favorite ingredient for a wreath is anything with berries in the fall (bush ivy, pittosporum) and especially if I find them along the path when walking in my neighborhood. When wonderful material is found hanging over the sidewalks I believe I’m doing the city a service by taking a snip here or there and clearing the right of way!!

    The natural style of Studio Choo is so refreshing! Love their Flower Recipe book.

  7. Whitney Says:

    My all time favorites are bittersweet, wheat, and corn husks! Wreaths are my favorite thing to make, always have been! Xoxox

  8. Kate sparks Says:

    I received the flower recipe book as a Christmas gift and refer to it often. My favorite wreath elements are feathers and wild vines, especially pheasant and Chubb feathers.

  9. Jen Beck Says:

    Eucalyptus! And, I just bought some today. 🙂

  10. Janet Says:

    Love berries, but vines are so fine. Can’t wait to make some wreaths!

  11. Lauren Says:

    Excellent interview. I love using air plants, eucalyptus, banksia and feathers, gum nuts too! Heck I love using whatever I takes my fancy at the time

  12. Viv Says:

    Pine and other evergreen “cones” like from southern magnolia are a favorite of mine.

  13. Caitlin | Our Natural Heritage Says:

    Hello! Thank you for featuring these two, I have been following them since they started Studio Choo and am so excited for their new adventure! I love their wild and natural style.

    I made my first wreath last Christmas and fell in love with the process. I love using a variety of colors of greens to make the wreath look WILD! Debra I am SO excited to meet you at Blithewold tomorrow!!!

  14. April Lemly Says:

    I love these two and the flower recipe book has always served as a source of inspiration for me. I am really looking forward to the book on wreaths and to watching these two soar to new heights! Thank you Debra, great interview!

  15. Amber Says:

    Love any kind of vines, hops, jasmine, etc!

    Love their work!

  16. Maria O. Says:

    Studio Choo is a true inspiration! I am sucker for beautiful moss on long branches. Can’t get enough of them, nor can I help myself from picking them all up when I’m walking through the park nearby my home.

  17. Cristina Says:

    Farmer florists! I love this. I also love the conceptual aspects of wreath making and I appreciate that you mentioned the hospitality of making and giving. Thanks to the three of you for reminding me what is important wholstically as an artist.
    Also, perfume seems like a natural transition and progression! Me wanty! Cheers! xoCristina

  18. debra Says:

    VOTING IS CLOSED. WE WILL DRAW A WINNER TODAY AND ANNOUNCE THE LUCKY RECIPIENT OF THE WREATH RECIPE BOOK ON THE NOV. 12TH EPISODE OF “SLOW FLOWERS PODCAST WITH DEBRA PRINZING.”
    debra´s last blog post ..SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Studio Choo’s Jill Rizzo and Alethea Harampolis on The Wreath Recipe Book (Episode 166)

  19. Debra Prinzing » Post » ASCFG #2 Design Basics and Beyond with Jennie Love and Sullivan Owen (Episode 167) Says:

    […] off, the winner of our drawing for a free copy of Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo’s beautiful new project, The Wreath Recipe Book, is Jen Beck, a professor, nonprofit consultant, and […]

  20. Debra Prinzing » Post » Episode 289: Redefining “Harvest” with designers and authors Stefani Bittner and Alethea Harampolis of Homestead Design Collective Says:

    […] Stefani is the coauthor with Leslie Bennett of The Beautiful Edible Garden and Alethea is cofounder of Studio Choo, with Jill Rizzo, her coauthor for The Flower Recipe Book and The Wreath Recipe Book. Alethea and Jill are past guests of this podcast, and you can find that episode here. […]

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