Celebrate the joys of your life with Joie de Vivre.

Joie de Vivre brings freelance floral design to your Northshore or New Orleans event. We meet, discuss your vision and collaborate to make your floral idea a reality. Having just moved home to Louisiana, Covington is now the place we call home. Prior to our move, we've celebrated many weddings and events at the Salish Lodge, Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Course and other wonderful venues in the Seattle area.

No storefront means no overhead for me and better prices for you. It also means that flowers are purchased for you and only you, allowing you to benefit from the freshest possible product. Attention and creativity is poured into making your event a memorable one, not just some pretty flowers in a vase.

While Joie de Vivre is my business and design is my passion, it all starts with the flower. Hope you enjoy my many ramblings.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Evolution of a Design

I recently had a request to create a floral piece to complement an artist’s work for her opening. What an honor!  Of course I was thrilled at the opportunity to stretch my creative wings, but of course it had to be just right.  In viewing her work, I saw that she loves color and whimsy.  Lots of color. 

Typically when I design, I prefer to use one to three colors.  Given the rainbow of colors in her work, this presented a new challenge for me.  I knew I wanted to use some tropical flowers to give structure and color, but not so many tropicals that it screamed “aloha y’all”!  I also know that for a last minute project that if I really wanted something, chances are, that it will not be available.  I visited my supplier with my wish list in hand and an open mind.  Good thing I had the later, because I needed it!

When it was all said and done, I had an interesting collection of blossoms (antherium, allium, kangaroo paw and sea holly, to name a few).  Color, texture and wow—it was all there.  Now it was the challenge of what to do with it all to complement this amazing artist’s work.   

After visiting the gallery and seeing the table it would adorn, my plan was to go horizontal.  I ripped a burlap liner out of a chicken wire type container and then turned it upside down.  That would work.  I could weave flowers in all sides to create an interesting horizontal piece.

After many, many insertions, the creation started to take shape.  Given the variety of colors, I had to be careful not to create a “salt and pepper” effect with the petite blossoms.  Doing this would lose the visual impact of the colors.  That said, I opted to create textural canvases of color by grouping individual blossoms.  Vivid in color, with bold mix of flowers, crowned with a touch of whimsy—this piece was ready to take flight.
 After studying Jacquie’s work, you can’t help but notice her playful use of dolls and other unique objects.  Feeling inspired, I decided to take a gamble (with my 4 year old daughter’s blessing) and top it with a small blue Pegasus.  That small detail made a huge statement.  I’m so glad my daughter was willing to donate her toy for the cause of art.
To see Jacquie’s work, follow the link below:


Monday, August 19, 2013

A Flower's Journey

Ever wonder why flowers can be so expensive?  I think it takes being a part of the industry to have a true appreciation of all that a flower experiences prior to be enjoyed by the end user.

Many of the flowers we see travel further to reach us than we travel in our lives.  This certainly gives us perspective, doesn’t it?  Most of the roses we buy here in the U.S. are grown in South American countries and orchids travel from Hawaii, Canada and as far as Thailand to grace our presence for a few days or possibly weeks. Many flowers will travel the world, going from their country of origin to the world’s largest floral auction in Aalsmeer (Netherlands), to then be sold and transported again to its final destination.

Flowers these days are bred for performance, and they must be cut, graded and packaged, not to mention transported, inspected and transported some more before arriving to area suppliers. When you think about how fragile they can be, it’s amazing that they reach us looking as lovely as they do.

When I receive flowers for your event, they are boxed, out of water.  I must remove them from their protective packaging, remove foliage and thorns, recut the stems and allow them to hydrate before I can think about creating your floral extravaganza.  So if your event entails hundreds and hundreds of stems, think about all the time to prepare those individual stems, not to mention all the design time it took to produce your masterpieces!  I will not even mention the time it takes to plan the design and redesign as a client modifies their plans.  Whew! I’m exhausted just writing about it.

So next time you gaze at some gorgeous blossoms, if your first instinct is to gasp at the price, think again about all it took for those flowers to reach you. Then you may think they didn’t charge enough!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Permanent Botanicals (AKA silk flowers) for Bridal Bouquets

You will quickly see that I have strong feelings about this subject. My intention is not to critique brides that go that route; it is simply to reflect on some of the reasons that brides give for wanting silks.

1.      Cost. You get what you pay for.  If you hope to have somewhat realistic silk flowers, you will pay for them and there’s a good chance you will pay more for them than what you would for the real thing.

If budget is a concern for you, that’s totally understandable.  The key for anyone on a budget is flexibility.  Speak to your floral designer about your budget and be open to suggestions.  Their business is creativity and if you are flexible with their ideas, you will probably end up with a fabulous creation, all within your budget. (But remember, you have to compromise!)

2.      The keepsake idea.  I’ve heard a few brides mention the idea of silk flowers as it relates to having a memento of their wedding to look back on.  As a gal that dried my bouquet, I can say that it’s in a plastic box in my closet.  I promise you, it would be no different with a silk arrangement.  I look at my wedding photos or gaze at my ring and reminisce about my magical day. I don’t need my dusty flowers to take me back to the day. 

If you need a memento of your special day, look no further than the ring on your finger.  Most of us probably hold on to our wedding dresses, freeze a piece of wedding cake, keep our something new and blue, in addition to keeping our wedding invitations, announcements and the list goes on and on.  Do we really need to have more mementos?  This question is coming from a sentimental fool that holds on to everything.
If you really want to preserve your bouquet, consider having a professional dry it or freeze dry it.

3.      Romance. We can agree that your wedding day is supposed to be the most romantic day of your life, right?

Question: how would you feel if your honey presented you with a bunch of silk flowers on Valentine’s Day, another romantic day?  It wouldn’t feel very romantic, would it?

Think back to the last time you received flowers, what’s the first thing you did when you received them (after reading the card)?  You plunged your nose into the bouquet to catch a whiff of the intoxicating scent, right?  You can’t really do that with silks, can you?

Conclusion: if it’s unromantic to receive silk flowers on Valentine’s Day, a romantic holiday, isn’t it even more unromantic to give them to yourself and others on the most romantic day of your life?

If you must have permanent botanicals, go for it!  This blog was simply based on my reflections after recently hearing a couple brides’ reasons for wanting silk.  I hope I’ve given you some food for thought!
By the way, I realize there are times when permanents seem to be a viable solution.  This is when a bride must have a particular flower and it’s either not available or able to withstand weather conditions.  I’ve read of instances where permanents have been used in magazine photo shoots simply because they couldn’t get the desired flower in flawless enough condition.  The flower in question—the white anemone!  This amazing little flower has so few petals; imagine how hard it is to find 50 or so flawless white stems for that perfect bouquet!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sometimes Less is More

While bridal magazines inspire us with lush floral extravaganzas, sometimes that lush full look isn’t consistent with a bride’s personal style or budget.  When you see a lush, full floral display, remember, each stem is an investment, so it all adds up quickly.  Perhaps that lush garden look isn’t your style.  There are many of us out there that appreciate the simplicity of a single stem, whether it be the texture of ginger blossom or linear beauty of a few calla lilies swirled in a vase.  Why not enhance that one amazing stem and really make it a statement flower by submerging it in water?

One single large vase or grouping of vases with a few immaculate stems can really make an impact.  Couple the water’s magnification of the blossoms with the light reflected by surrounding candles and you have one memorable table.  
Now let’s go a step further.  How often do you see that submerged stem suspended in water without the use of rocks or floating candles to hold it in place?  It’s a very clean look and in this context is completed with a swirling grass accent.  (This photo was a trial run for a future project with dendrobium orchids; so remember, never wait to the last minute to test your concept).
Clean.  Simple.  Beautiful.  Just remember the glass cleaner as unsightly fingerprints will destroy this pristine look.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fairy Berries

If you are a bride that’s researched wedding d├ęcor options, Fairy Berries may have caught your eye.  As a floral professional, I’m always interested in trying different products.  This one has been around for a while and a client provided them for use in her ceremony pieces.

Fairy Berries provide ambiance.  They are tiny spheres, about the size of a marble, that gently flicker.  They come in a variety of colors, so depending on your theme, the desired effect is up to you.  For this application, I suspended them from branches with clear thread and in the dim light, they provided an amber glow.
Okay, so that’s basically what you read on the box.  What you may not read is this: In order to turn them on, you must unscrew the two pieces of the sphere and pull the tab covering the battery (there is no on/off switch).  Fortunately, the battery life is good, so one can go through this hassle before the journey to the venue.  I never have the time to unscrew dozens of these pearls at the venue when there are so many other things to setup.  What makes it more difficult is that once you unscrew these tiny “berries,” some of them do not reassemble easily.  They are so poorly constructed, I actually had to use clear tape to hold many of them together.
So the moral of the story is this: Fairy Berries provide nice ambiance but are not user friendly.  There are many options for lighting and I encourage you to explore your options and read product reviews (if available).  If you opt to DIY, always plan on things being more time consuming than planned.  If you hire a professional, listen to their feedback—remember, you hire them for their expertise.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Freelance Floral Designer or Flower Shop?

Having worked and managed a floral boutique and now running my own freelance design business, today I share my unique perspective regarding this subject.

Being a perfectionist, I confess that I am constantly fixating over projects with the ultimate goal of surpassing a client’s expectations.  This can certainly be a challenge in a traditional flower shop environment.  So many things come up over the course of a day: processing incoming flowers and scrutinizing for accuracy and quality, producing the day’s orders for delivery and pickup, meeting with clients, handling staffing issues, developing  marketing ideas, and the list goes on and on.  During my time in a flower boutique, it was common on a Friday afternoon to be working on several funerals, several weddings and daily orders, all for Saturday delivery.  Of course, there were a few hands on deck for support, but that’s a lot of chaos.  This is the beauty and the challenge of a traditional shop.

As a client, you should never know about all that we juggle.  But you cannot appreciate the job your designer does, without understanding all that goes on behind the scenes.

Having participated in that side of the business, I decided to focus on what I enjoy most: working with individual clients on their special events.  The level of service I can provide doesn’t compare to what I was able to provide in my former life. I strive to reply to inquiries and provide estimates promptly.  I know you don’t want to wait, so I research and brainstorm and get back with you—in this lifetime.  By allowing myself dedicated time to focus solely on your project, the design is ultimately better and more creative than simply “taking your order” and providing an estimate.  The overall attention to detail is by far greater.  If you know exactly what you want, great; I am happy to help.  I might ask some questions and make some additional suggestions; given that you are hiring a professional to do the job, I owe that to you.
Secondly—I am honest with you.  I’m not saying that others fib, I’m simply saying that in their efforts to please you and earn your business, sometimes designers agree to things that aren’t the most realistic. I prefer to be as open and honest as possible; yes it’s a risk and I may not earn your business, but my goal is to EARN your business, and to do that, I must be honest.

Finally, as much as I enjoyed the “flower shop” environment, one major challenge I experienced working in a shop that produced a lot of wire service (or internet orders) was being put in a box to reproduce things that people select online.  For a creative designer, this can be extremely restrictive, given that so much of what is seen online is generic round arrangements.  Doing this type of work day after day can condition a person to default to this style and unfortunately, you, the client, lose.  We can do so much better for you if given the chance.

I want to reiterate that this is my experience; not all traditional flower shops and designers are like this and what I described is not a bad thing.  I am so very grateful for the opportunities given to me in the flower shop environment.  I learned so much and met so many wonderful people.  I started Joie de Vivre so that I could focus specifically on events and provide my clients the level of service and creativity I know that I am capable of providing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Importance of Planning and a Good Setup Crew

When many of us think about event flowers, we simply think about what we want the finished product to look like.  Of course we do, that is the bottom line.  We never really think about how that finished product will get to the venue in pristine condition, keeping in mind that we live in the land of the pothole.  That is the responsibility of the professional, yes, but credit should be passed on to that wonderful team that helps to make it happen.
I swear, loading a delivery van should never be underestimated when planning an event.  Often times, delivery and setup can be the most stressful part.  Always allow enough time to get it done (and keep the AC running).  Loading a van with numerous arrangements varying in size from huge to tiny is like building a puzzle; sometimes you have to shift and rearrange and try again.  They must be stable so when you hit that pothole you were trying to avoid, your flowers don't tumble down. When you have numerous table pieces, how will you unload them at the venue when you have only an hour to set up?  Yes a cart is a lifesaver, but it takes up precious cargo room.

Being a person that likes to do everything herself, this is a time when you must entrust a team of reliable workers.  Without a cohesive team that is quick on their feet, I’d be lost.  I am so lucky to have a few key people that I completely trust in getting a job done professionally and efficiently.  You know who you are, so thank you!
Finally having your own “bag of tricks” can be a lifesaver as well.  This weekend, Home Depot played a large role in my bag of tricks.  From plastic piping, to duct puddy, to self-amalgamating pipe tape to bug spray, oh let’s not forget river rocks and a garden spade, you never know what you will need when you get to a venue (yes, this was a wedding). That said, when planning, you try your best to think of everything.  So now I not only have my handy dandy hot pink tool bag, but I also have my trusty Homer bucket for all those extrasJ