You’ll probably agree when we say that 2020 has taught us many lessons. Although it has been hard to be positive at times while we navigate our new reality, we've learned so much from our local and floral communities.
This year has brought us closer to one another. We've built more meaningful connections with our customers, our colleagues, and other members of the floral industry.
We've learned that collaborating within our industry will not only bring new opportunities but it will also create new friendships. We look up to our new flower friends and we're in awe at how they've transformed their vision and business through it all.
We were first introduced to oli FLOR right at the beginning of the pandemic. We were immediately drawn to the brand's unique designs, the incorporation of sustainable practices, and the overall personality of the brand.
As the months passed, we got to know Danielle, the superpower behind oli FLOR. She is an active single mom that incorporates tidbits of her life and incredible behind the scenes footage of her breath-taking photoshoots and brand collaborations into her Instagram stories. Even more importantly, she is honest with herself and with her followers. Her feed is not just about beautiful flower magic. She poses important questions, the ones that make you think, the ones that allow you to be true to yourself and your convictions.
Danielle's work speaks to who she is- a loving, compassionate, unique, generous, assertive woman AND designer. We are incredibly grateful to her for supporting our Flower Children partnership. We want you to get to know her better, fall in love with her work, and most importantly, fall in love with the amazing person she is.
How did you get started in the flower industry?
I remember being in Atlanta in 2000, just having graduated college with an MBA. (Yes, I know, my studies were far from the creative world.) I was working as an executive assistant in an interior design firm and always went to visit a florist shop around the corner on my lunch break. See, growing up in Northern NY, spring didn’t come until the middle of May and summer would often pass if you blinked. Whenever the dandelions would sprout, I knew my favorite time of the year was upon us. It always gave me a feeling of happiness.
I always look and move towards things that remind me of spring that bring me the most joy. And flowers have always been one of them. It wasn’t until 2008 that I finally decided to use my savings and take a floral design course that would truly change my direction. I was hooked. After the course, I sent my resume to many flower shops in the city, and landed my first job, sweeping the floors and doing a lot of prep work for events. (Read: washing and cleaning vases.) I would work for this shop after my full time day job usually on Thursday and Friday evenings and almost every weekend! Luckily, the florist I was working for really encouraged me to start learning the proper fundamentals of floral design and guided me so much when I was just starting out. I watched and tried to learn as much as possible. I have always had a strong attention to detail and a disciplined work ethic; I have an unwavering commitment to mastering this craft. There is so much to learn about the fundamentals and principles of floral designs. Trends are always changing but still keep in mind the basic principles in order to flourish.
What is your favorite part about being in the floral industry?
My absolute favorite part of being in the floral industry is watching and seeing trends, different styles and COLOR. I am just blown away sometimes about a color combination or a design that I would have never thought about myself, yet I am so intrigued with how other designers perceive flowers and how they tell their story through flowers and designs. I love working alongside other designers to brainstorm ideas. This always stirs my creativity.
When you create floral art, what inspires you? What gets your “creative juices” flowing?
I have always been inspired by nature. The dandelion was my first favorite flower and little did I know until much later, that it’s actually a weed! Ironically, I love to use weeds and other end of life, foraged pieces in my arrangements. There is something beautiful about how something dies. Sometimes you can read the story of the flower just by looking at its after life; still life. If I really want to get my creative juices flowing, all I need to do is go outside for a walk and really take in my surroundings. I find inspiration in colors. I am amazed how the colors of a leaf can change depending on the season of their life. A leaf can go from flat and bright green to curled and all shades of tan and brown. I find beauty in both seasons. This is the same with flowers too. Most flowers fade as they die but I find as much beauty in a supple pink rose that fades to a crisp mocha bloom.
We noticed you’re an advocate of sustainability within the industry. Can you share some of your sustainable practices?
I believe if you have a passion for floral design, you need to understand that flowers and this earth are a gift from God and we need to take care of those things just like we need to take care of ourselves. We see what happens when we feed our body with toxic things, whether it be thoughts, words, food or even people. We don’t flourish. That is why I am so interested in sustainability. oli FLOR has incorporated sustainable practices but we have only really just begun. But as we are pursuing sustainability, we are doing our best to incorporate small practices that can make a big impact.
First and foremost we never use floral foam. It is a single-use plastic and full of chemicals and toxins that can seep into our lungs, skin, water and earth. It takes years to biodegrade and even when it does, it biodegrades harsh chemicals and harms mother earth. Flowers grow and flourish from the ground and they need fresh water and love to grow.
All sleeves or flower wrappings are washed and dried and are taken to our local grocery store (Publix) to be recycled with their plastic bags. They also accept:
- Plastic overwrap from toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels
- Overwrap from shipping cases
- Zip-top and other re-sealable bags (without the zipper)
- Pharmacy, bread, and produce bags
- Cereal bags (not the ones that come in a box)
- Dry cleaning bags/protective plastic
- Newspaper sleeves
- Ice bags, salt bags, and wood pellet bags
- Air pillows
- Clean and dry cling wrap and #2 and #4 soft plastics
We decline plastic bags from wholesalers and bring our own reusable bags.
We would love to eliminate as much waste as possible, recyclable or not. Which means that we avoid consuming things that require the purchase of disposable and single-use containers. We try not to have all of our flowers wrapped with paper or put into boxes when those options are available. When we buy flowers from the market we often decline any kind of wrap and just stack the individual flower bunches on a cart to be placed directly into our vehicle. It creates more physical work when transporting flowers from one place to another, but eliminates the wasteful aftermath of boxes, plastic and paper wrap.
We recycle all of our cardboard.
We do not use harsh chemicals like floral food, quick dip, and leaf shine. We sometimes use spray paint but we know we need to move away from this trend.
Whenever possible, we compost cuttings, leaves, flowers that have lost their life. We do try and dry any of the flowers that will dry well so we can repurpose them for our FLORever line.
We donate flowers whenever possible. We are working on a program that would use perfectly loveable flowers (that have passed their peak) to send to people or organizations that need a little extra happy in their life. Flowers brighten a room and bring a sparkle to the eyes of many and we want to share this love. We are totally open to suggestions if you know someone whose day would be brightened by a room of flowers or an organization that would benefit from a beautiful arrangement, please reach out to us!
And more recently, I have incorporated this into my personal life. I have become more aware of the way to sustain my life on this earth. I must take care of myself like I care for the flowers and use the practices in all aspects of my life. It’s fairly easy to do when you aren’t interested in consuming packaged foods and products, in general. It seems that if you value living a sustainable life, you are most likely leading a fairly waste-free existence. I have long made use of avoiding single-serving packaged products. I am more aware of the chemicals and ingredients in food. I will continue to learn and spread the message so the future generations to come will have a standard to follow. This, most importantly, starts in my family with my daughter, Olivia Flor, who is always watching and learning from me.
I am not pretending to have all of the answers. The only legitimate way to start making a difference is to be the change that we wish to see. This requires action. Oli FLOR aims to take action aligned with the best possible practices and replicate what it means to be living in harmony with the surrounding environment. Please feel free to ask questions, challenge the ideas presented here, or share any other tips that you think would make the floral industry more sustainable!
What floral trends have you seen emerge due to the pandemic? How are your customers adjusting to the “new normal”?
I’ve seen many more online workshops being offered to people who want to use their creativity at home. Curated boxes of flowers are sent directly to a person and a designer can teach you how to arrange the flowers through a live workshop or a pre-recorded video. I love this trend. It’s allowing consumers to express their creativity in their own unique way. Another trend I am seeing is a shift to dried flowers. Typically, a one-time purchase of a dried arrangement will last you, well forever. We are creating a FLORever line of curated dried product that can be rented for styling or purchased by other florists or for consumers.
Luckily my customers have always supported my message of creative freedom and sustainability so I will continue to work with clients that appreciate my message. Like I said before, it’s all about educating your client. I work a lot with corporate and restaurants that put sustainability at the forefront of their brand.
Have you seen any changes to the flower industry this year?
I have seen a lot of budding florists pop up this year. I think because of the pandemic, people are really questioning what they want to do in their lives and careers. They are asking themselves “what makes me happy?”
So with this, I have seen a lot of designers offer free online videos and tutorials to help people advance their curiosity. And these are not only for amateur florists, but also for those of us who have been in the industry longer. With anything we want to know about at the end of our fingertips, there are so many resources being put out on YouTube and IGTV where you can really hone in on your craft. Alongside this, people of the industry are using this opportunity to give back to their community, whether it be financially, using a percentage of their sales, or with their time helping those in need. I see a lot of peers in the industry donating to causes and using their voices to stand against injustices.
Although 2020 has been a challenging year, what lessons have you learned along the way?
I have really learned this year that in order to be the best brand oli FLOR can be and to share our message, I need to be the best version of myself. I need to be true to what I believe in. I had to stop focusing on what others were doing and focus on my mental and physical health. I have put God and my faith at the center of it all. I have complete faith in God that we will be brought out of this and I will still flourish and be a better version of myself after this season passes.
As we continue to navigate this “new normal”, do you have any advice for your fellow industry members?
Just be true to yourself. Follow your instincts, pray a lot, say positive affirmations to yourself and your business. Do what works for you. Focus on being the best version of yourself everyday. Work hard, be honest and love one another.
Lastly, do you believe in the power of flowers? If so, can you talk to us about how flowers have impacted your life and/or those around you?
I absolutely believe in the power of flowers. Flowers have healing powers. Uplift our spirits, and bring nourishment to our souls. Multiple studies prove that flowers have a healing effect on those who receive them as a gift or who have them in their homes. People surrounded by flowers appear to be less agitated, anxious and depressed, and also they seem to have an increased life satisfaction overall. Flowers have significant meaning and symbolism in different cultures (which I have been so intrigued by lately) and we can tell a story through flowers. For me personally, I have a lot of wonderful memories around flowers. When I smell a peony, it reminds me of my pop’s peony bed. When I see an Iris, it reminds me of my grandmother, when I see geranium, I am instantly brought straight back to summertime on my grandmother’s front porch, which my father now calls home. Do you believe in the power of flowers? I would love for you to share some of your fondest memories with me. Always feel free to reach out with any questions about flowers. I love when someone has the same passion as myself.
Thanks for the love, Golden Flowers!