Branding A Slow Flowers Philosophy with Gloria Battista Collins of New York’s GBC Style (Episode 233)
February 17th, 2016
I’m so pleased to introduce you today to Gloria Battista-Collins, owner of gbc style, a design studio based in Montebello, New York.
I first met Gloria in 2014 when Holly Heider Chapple invited me to make a presentation about the Slow Flowers/American Grown Movement to the Chapel Designers Conference in New York.
At least 75 florists from around the country were gathered and I was grateful to have the platform for introducing them to American Grown values and the Slow Flowers approach.
To be truthful, I worried a little that my message would be received as something novel or just a “fringe” concept.
However, I was so pleased that Holly’s instincts were right – many wedding and event florists who make up the Chapel Designers’ membership were interested in learning how to rebrand themselves with a local and seasonal story.
Gloria was one of those in the room with whom I felt an instant connection. And in the two subsequent years, we’ve had some meaningful conversations about how she has successfully repositioned her studio, GBC Style, with a local sensibility.
Having trained with some of floristry’s top instructors, Gloria received all the technical and mechanical essentials as she developed her craft. But when it comes to sourcing botanicals, she has had to re-imagine the New York traditions of “just shopping in the 28th Street Flower District” especially when that does not align with her commitment to using only local flowers.
Certainly that’s easier said than done. And for a designer whose garden is located in USDA Zone 6b (with average minimum temperatures from zero to minus 5 degrees), winter months are challenges.
You can get a sense of how Gloria juggles those challenges in this floral newsletter piece I wrote last year about a local-only Valentine’s Day wedding designed by Gloria.
“How One Designer Sourced All-Local Flowers for a Valentine’s Day Wedding in New York”
Gloria Battista Collins, owner of GBC Style, based in New York’s Hudson Valley, has a distinct business philosophy of sourcing flowers grown as close to her as possible.
When a prospective bride contacted her to create the centerpieces and bouquets for a Valentine’s Day wedding in the New York area, Gloria explained that, “I would be happy to do her wedding, but she had to realize I’m one-hundred percent local.”
Admittedly, it was in the middle of winter, but Gloria assured her client that she would design “something beautiful and elegant for the setting, in keeping with the season.” The color palette: a classic white-and-black scheme.
Branches: The large reception room required twelve tall arrangements. “I realized the only way to achieve the drama needed was by using branches,” she says.
Gloria sourced striking pear branches and paired them with evergreen boxwood boughs and camellia foliage, all from New Jersey. Once she brought the flowering branches indoors where it was warm, the delicate white blooms opened up.
Topiary: Gloria created twelve boxwood spheres, which rested in urns that had a camellia foliage “collar.” The topiaries alternated with the tall branch-filled urns on round tables throughout the reception hall.
Bouquet: To create an all-white bridal bouquet, Gloria sourced three types of white tulips (parrot, fringed and standard), as well as white anemones – all greenhouse-grown in the New York area. “I added some of the pear branches and boxwood foliage to the bouquet, and finished it with a beautiful silk ribbon,” she says.
According to the designer, the event was a success. “The flowers made a connection for the couple,” Gloria says. “They wanted to feel like there was a story behind their flowers.”
Before you join our conversation, here’s a little more about Gloria and GBC Style:
Gloria Battista Collins describes herself as a slow flower designer and an artist.
On her web site she writes: As a little girl, my most vivid recollection is sitting at my Mom’s kitchen table, drawing pretty, colorful flowers around a house with my crayons, I would sit there for hours. Every few minutes, Mom would stop cooking, bend over my shoulder and tell me how pretty my flowers were, encouraging me to keep drawing.
Little by little, over many years, the seed she planted with her early encouragement blossomed within me into a full blown passion for all things flowers and a home grown business based on my love for them.
But not just any kind of flowers. My passion is for sustainably grown, locally grown slow flowers, grown either by myself in my organic flower garden or by the local flower farmers in the Lower Hudson Valley area of New York where I live with my family.
Today, after receiving extensive hands on training at the New York Flower School and with other internationally known flower designers, I design natural, whimsical, sustainably grown and locally grown flowers for weddings and farm to table events, corporate meetings, etc.
I love collaborating with brides to provide them with in season flowers that have special significance for them. I grow the flowers for their weddings myself and also use locally sourced flowers that I buy from local flower farmers.
I also love collaborating with New York City and Hudson Valley farm to table and corporate event planners, who appreciate and want to help support the growth of our local flower farms and flower gardeners.
And now, this year, I’ve come full circle from those early days as a child, as I’ve started drawing flowers again, but this time they’re not in crayon.
It has taken me many years of learning how to grow my business in a slow, sustainable manner while still being the Mom I want to be to my 3 wonderful boys.
If you’re a Mom, too, I invite you to visit my blog to read more about the process and how it’s all come together over these many years of trial and error.
Thank you for joining me today as we heard another fabulous story of one florist’s transformation into a passionate slow flowers advocate.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 83,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each and every one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
Until next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
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The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.