Debra Prinzing

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Episode 297: The Flower Power Network: Florists Coming Together to Learn and Lend Support

May 17th, 2017

Above, I’m seated on the sofa with fellow Flower Power speaker, Aimee Newlander of the Slow Weddings Network. Flower Power’s members often meet in one another’s homes, gardens and studios. These photos were taken by Sarah Gonia, an Olympia-based photographer (c) Sarah Gonia.

Sarah captured this hellebore (from Maura’s garden) in a centerpiece that welcomed us to Maura’s home. (c) Sarah Gonia

Another lovely moment from Maura’s floral arrangement (c) Sarah Gonia

We’ve been talking about networking, collaboration and community quite a bit lately and this week’s topic continues that thread with Seattle’s Flower Power.

This intentional cohort of floral designers and farmer-florists formed in early 2016 with a core group of new friends, many of whom met while taking a large-scale installation workshop with Lisa Waud of Pot & Box when she came to town.

Flower Powers’ monthly gatherings rotate among different member’s homes or studios and focus on business topics and face-to-face social networking . . . today, only 18 months after forming, the list of Flower Power members has grown organically to more than 35 participants.

Maura Whalen of Seattle’s Casablanca Floral shared this portait from her collection. She’s seen in front of her beautiful design studio.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom, based on Seattle’s Eastside, at work in her home-based design studio (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Many Flower Power members are also involved in Slow Flowers and so somehow I was added to the mailing list . . . every time their monthly meeting notice lands in my in-box, I open it curious to discover the topic and host. I have felt very included but never had a chance to attend until May 1st. Maura Whalen invited me to speak about Slow Flowers when she hosted the group in her beautiful home and garden in Seattle.

Before our evening’s program began, I sat down with Maura and another early Flower Power member Tammy Myers to talk about the reasons why they started the group and how it has served their evolving floral careers.

Maura Whalen of Flower Power

Maura Whalen owns Casablanca Floral and Tammy Myers owns First & Bloom. Let me introduce a little more about them:

Maura’s Casablanca Floral began in 2014 when she hauled a wreath-making machine into her children’s tree fort and filed for a license to pursue her lifelong dream of a floral business.

 In truth, a passion for flowers and the natural world has been with Maura her entire life, beginning with time spent with her Italian grandmother Flora who had a glorious garden in which Maura loved to play.  At home as a child, her mother made her a deal:  if she weeded the garden, she could create an arrangement for the family table.   Later, Maura worked in a floral shop to pay her way through grad school. Casablanca Floral is the culmination of one woman’s lifelong love for expressing creativity through flowers.

The word Casablanca denotes Maura’s favorite flower and her favorite classic film and to her, Casablanca has always signified ultimate elegance.

Casablanca Floral has bloomed into a thriving business serving the Seattle metropolitan area. Operating out of a beautiful backyard studio rather than a storefront allows Maura to keep her work personal, close to home, and close to the heart.  It’s no surprise that being a mother to two fabulous teenagers entwines and overlaps with Maura’s life as a florist.

Tammy Myers of First & Bloom

And here’s more about Tammy Myers. She writes this on First & Bloom’s web site:

If you had asked me 10+ years ago about owning a florist business, I might have laughed!  Who knew I would be here today.  Like most young twenty-something’s, I was headed to the big city and wasn’t ever going back to the country!  Growing up in a small town outside the Tri-Cities in Eastern Washington, I was drawn to the city like most-  the fast pace, the glitz, the glam, and the opportunity.  And it’s all true.  Those years were fun and still are when I get a chance to sneak away.  But there’s nothing better than the sheer glimmer in my son’s eyes when he discovers something new out in the country.  As parents, we’ve all been there.  We start to live again- better, through our children.  

What I’ve learned over the years is to love what you do.  Surround yourself with passion, integrity, perseverance, and ignore anyone who says otherwise.   

​What I’ve learned in the past couple years is that I’m not really selling flowers.  I’m selling feelings.  The emotion of one person passed to the other as a feeling through the tangible package of flowers.  That’s why it’s so important I get it right.  Getting it right means everything to me and most importantly it means everything to my customers.  It means I played a tiny little part in someone feeling comfort about the life jolting news they received from the doctor or the feeling of celebration for the ass-kicking mountain they conquered called cancer.  It also means I get to see a glimpse into some of the most important days a couple experiences like walking down the aisle or welcoming another amazing person into this world.  And the best part is, someone chose me to help convey those priceless thoughts and feelings.  What a gift that touches me right to the core!

Flower Power member Katie Clary Githens of Clary Sage Studio (c) Sarah Gonia

Guest book (c) Sarah Gonia

Slow honey, shared by some guests (c) Sarah Gonia

Maura Whalen’s “of the moment” bouquet featuring elements clipped from her garden and foraged in her Seattle neighborhood. (c) Sarah Gonia

As we mentioned during the episode, I have two past episodes to share with you that relate to today’s guests:
I hosted Tammy as my guest on Episode 201 as she discussed her all-American/all-local sourcing philosophy; and I featured Tammy, Maura and several other designers who are now involved in Flower Power on Episode 230 during the workshop with Lisa Waud when the seed of an idea seemed to be forming for this group.

Flower Power doesn’t officially have a web site or Facebook group but you can get to know Maura and Tammy at their social places:

Casablanca Floral on Facebook

Casablanca Floral on Instagram

Casablanca Floral on Pinterest

First & Bloom on Facebook

First & Bloom on Instagram

First & Bloom on Pinterest

As special thank you to Sarah Gonia of Olympia-based Sarah Gonia Photography. She attended Flower Power as a guest and generously shared these photos with permission.

Thanks for joining us today. The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 189,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors:

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.

Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org.

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.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at KineticTreeFitness.com.

Music credits:

Around Plastic Card Tables
by Blue Dot Sessions
http://www.sessions.blue
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Additional music from:

audionautix.com

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