Episode 241: Sonoma Flower Mart Brings Slow Flowers to California’s Wine Country
April 13th, 2016
I’ve mentioned a few times recently that the members of North Bay Flower Collective invited me to spend two days in Sonoma County last month to tour flower farms, visit design studios and learn more about the stories of their community.
The origins of this visit date back a year when I met and interviewed two members of this new organization — Betany Coffland of Chloris Floral Design and Lennie Larkin of B-Side Farm — and featured our conversation here on the podcast.
Over the course of the next month or so, I have several new interviews to share. The guests and topics were selected and suggested by the North Bay Flower Collective’s core leadership group — and you’ll soon hear how they engage in collective decision-making and collaboration.
I have to give props to Daniele Strawn of Chica Bloom Farm and Nichole Skalski of California Sister Floral Design for acting as my travel planners and key contacts for the visit.
You’ll hear from Daniele at the top of this interview as we revisit how we connected and how this series came to fruition. Then we will transition to two back-to-back interviews with Nichole and her business partner Kathrin Green.
Nichole and Kathy recently joined forces as partners in California Sister Floral Design & Supply to develop and open their new venture: Sonoma Flower Mart. The companion businesses are co-located in a very cool retail-wholesale space in The Barlow, a development in Sebastopol, California, in the heart of Sonoma County.
Called “the new artisan amusement park” by Sunset magazine, The Barlow occupies former fruit packing houses and industrial buildings and now brings together the very best wine makers, food producers and artisans, creating a venue that offers a direct connection between the consumer and the makers of the local products they love. It’s a perfect fit for California Sister’s consumer-facing retail site and the Sonoma Flower Mart’s wholesale operation and you’ll see photos of the adjoining spaces in today’s show notes at debraprinzing.com.
California Sister is a floral design company located in Sebastopol, that uses local Sonoma County and California grown flowers. The studio’s designs are crafted to reflect the wild beauty of the area that owners Nichole and Kathy call home. As they put it: “We have a passion for seasonality and work closely with our local farmers to insure our flowers are harvested at their peak.”
Offering full service wedding and event florals as well as any occasion floral delivery throughout Sonoma County, California Sister opens its new retail location at The Barlow in April of 2016 featuring plant & floral based offerings that celebrate the distinct Northern California lifestyle.
Here is more about Nichole Skalski: Nichole first noticed the effects of time by observing her mother’s lilacs cycling through stages of bud, bloom, and dormancy. She worships at the altar of flowers, and reveres their color, form, scent, and effect to bring joy and connection. A Sonoma County native, supporting and maintaining its agricultural diversity is a mission close to her heart. Also a core member of the North Bay Flower Collective, Nichole is passionate about all things flower related. She can’t get enough of Chocolate Cosmos, is truly moved by roses, and in awe of delicate native orchids.
Here is more about Kathrin Green: Kathy began floral studies with floral designer Sarah Hayes in Worcester, England, and at the Judith Blacklock School of Floral Arts in London. A native Midwesterner, Kathy attended Luther College in Iowa and Nottingham University in England where she met her husband Richard. After raising their family in England they recently moved to California, where their three grown children also reside. Since arrival in Sebastopol Kathy has enjoyed working with local floral designers and flower growers of the North Bay Flower Collective. Offering locally grown flowers, Kathy is pleased to be a partner in the expansion of the Sonoma Flower Mart. Her favorite flower is Paeonia californica, the wild peony.
I recorded my conversations with Kathy and Nichole in two parts, beginning with a harrowing car ride between Arcata, California, and Sonoma, California, a 4-hour-plus trip that was thoroughly enjoyable for Kathy and me, and probably very stressful for Nichole, who was driving through torrential rain.
You will definitely hear the ambient noise of her car and the storm outside, but this conversation was priceless and is definitely worth hearing.
After Part One, we’ll transition to Part Two, which took place on the following day when I met the women at their new retail-wholesale place in Sebastopol.
You’ll get a sense of their ambitious project and I encourage you to check them out when you visit wine country.
Their goal is to connect the flower farmers of their region, state and the West with floral designers and their customers, serving as an important flower hub for Sonoma’s weddings, events and day-to-day floral community.
Here are links to the social places for each of these guests:
Daniele Strawn & Chica Bloom Farm
Follow Chica Bloom on Facebook
Follow Chica Bloom on Instagram
California Sister Floral Design on Facebook
California Sister Floral Design on Instagram
Sonoma Flower Mart on Facebook
Sonoma Flower Mart on Instagram
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