This may spoil the surprise for our parents, but QC Exclusive made our Christmas shopping easy for them this year– by giving us a great big feature in their holiday issue! I’ll be ploppin’ a bow on the front and sending them out as gifts for sure! 😉
When the guys at QC asked us to design a few Christmas looks for an upcoming feature we were all in! I LOVE the holidays! We partnered with the amazingly talented Taken By Sarah Photography (I sound like a broken record- but seriously check her out! Gorgeousness abounds!) and even crashed her newly designed home studio for the shoot!
Everything turned out great and JP gave us a great feature- be sure to grab a copy this month before they’re all gone! Enjoy some holiday eye candy and read on below for the full interview! ♥
What were you doing before you started your events and floral business?
I worked for a company providing the florals and decor for the NASCAR and IRL race series nationwide. Brandon worked for Charlotte Motor Speedway doing sales and events.
What inspired you to start your events and floral business?
We wanted to be with our kids more and live our lives on our own terms. We gave away 95% of everything we owned here in Charlotte and headed to Key West with the idea of our new business, Lily Bee’s.
What aspects of owning your own business were appealing to you?
Not waking up to an alarm every morning! 😉 We wanted to escape that 9-5 rat race and no longer work to live, but to provide something special that we were proud to put our names on and that we honestly believe makes a difference– there is nothing more amazing than a great marriage and we love getting to work with couples as they begin that journey.
How long have you been arranging flowers and coordinating events?
I started working in a flower shop after graduating high school in Southern California and before the world of Pinterest I was always really into creating fun and memorable parties!
Where did you learn or who taught you how to arrange flowers?
I started learning from two ladies actually, in Southern California, that have been florists for YEARS! They’re so talented with such amazing stories and are still great friends today. But I love all the designers I’ve learned from over the years and love to watch other florists work today and to see what they do. Everyone has their own style though, so its great to see the artistic differences.
What has been the biggest challenge you have encountered since you opened Lily Bees?
Small business definitely has plenty of those! We started in Key West with our two kids, and third on the way, and traveled every week between Savannah, GA and the Florida Keys. Quickly adding in Charlotte travel too. I could give a million stories from those days! But if I’m being completely honest, I would say that keeping the balance of work and life is the hardest. I’m a workaholic and would do absolutely nothing else but this if I could. Thankfully I have an amazing husband that helps in keeping my unhealthy habits in check. We started this business to not only support our family while doing something we’re passionate about, but to give back and be the good we wish to see in the world. Sometimes it’s just to easy to get wrapped up in the vanity of it all.
What is the coolest thing about owning Lily Bees?
Besides no longer waking to an alarm clock ;), the couples are the absolute best! We’ve had so many couples that just touch our hearts and we enjoy staying in touch and seeing their relationships grow- it never feels like “work” when it’s this enjoyable!
What is the process from start to finish with a client for event coordination and selection of flower arrangement?
We start off the process chatting with the client to learn as much as we can about their vision, likes and dislikes, and what their dream event looks like. Once we know how they imagine and feel about that end result, we go to work drawing up the pieces that put that puzzle together for them. When it comes to flowers we browse through images (online, books, magazines) and see the things that grab their attention and fit the style of the event. Then we can go back to our home office and work on writing up a custom proposal to provide the solutions to all the things we discuss. We honestly try to make the process as simple and stress fee as possible, we take a little time up front and then work hard to keep everything handled for the client/bride and groom.
How do you select what flowers, textures, and colors to put in a flower arrangement?
I take elements out of the images we collect on our inspiration boards and then select from what will be in season and of high quality. Then when the time comes, I’ll browse through whats available from the growers and add to the order as needed.
How much knowledge of flowers and plants in general is required to make a really beautiful arrangement and where did you learn about all of these plants and flowers?
Knowledge is never a bad thing, I feel like I know more than I did last year or even last month. I’ve learned from other florists, from my own research, from the wholesalers we work with. We work with very fragile and time sensitive material, and keeping the quality up is always of importance to us.
What flowers and plants are staples in many of your most popular arrangements?
Hydrangeas are always great- they’re cost effective, large and available year round. Other staples are roses, calla lilies, peonies, orchids- I love to mix it up with different greens and various textures too.
Where do you source your flowers and dependent upon the theme of your client’s event how hard can it be to obtain particular flowers?
It all depends on how much time we have to get it in, we can source in pretty much anything with enough time. Obviously there are some things that due to weather or other various issues makes it a bit more difficult, but the world of flowers is great in the way that there are other options and flowers we can change too that will give us better availability and quality.
What is the turn around time for flowers for an event? How long do you need to prepare and fulfill your clients requests to achieve their desired aesthetic?
Most weddings start planning about a year in advance, which is great to give us ample time and we book up quickly- so that secures the date. But other social and corporate events don’t always need nearly as long. We want people to be happy, and we want to be able to help everyone that comes to us, so we’ve definitely taken events in nearly impossible time frames and made it work!
What is your favorite flower and why?
I love big full flowers- peonies, garden roses, ranunculus. I love a clean, but romantic feel, and am a sucker for all white designs.
What flower do you use the most in your arrangements and what about that flower makes it such a popular option?
For weddings it would be hydrangea and roses as the base to most every bouquet and centerpiece. But there are so many additional things we can put in with them to completely change the look– that’s the fun part!
What are some beautiful and unique flowers that rarely are used but can really make an event space pop?
I think a lot of tropicals are overlooked a lot. Doing the NASCAR and IRL circuits we worked with mainly tropicals and then moving into mainly weddings and personal events, they weren’t requested as often. Seeing the king and pin cushion protea’s coming into “style” is exciting. I love adding in things like kale, cabbage and not-so-ordinary greens.
How can readers get in touch with you for event planning or flower arrangement needs?
Visit www.LilyBeesFloral.com and fill out our questionnaire- that will be sent directly to me and I can review and contact you to begin. 🙂 I stay available via phone, text and email- and we are active on all the major social networks.
Anything else you want our readers to know about you or Lily Bees?
It’s a family business, but it’s receiving great reviews and growing by leaps and bounds! The mission for 2015 is to continue our growth but to really expand what our original mission was- to give back! We pass out leftover flowers to brighten people’s days, we believe in real, organic food and are working to expand getting better quality food into the homes of people that can’t afford that healthier quality, we believe that most all of us have more than enough “stuff” to go around– giving back our excess to a neighbor in need is a very important act of kindness that we can all do today. So, while not all is floral or event related– that is why we do what we do and why we’re teaching our children a life like this- all supported by our family business.
I start with a theme- classic, silver & gold, candy-land, traditional, modern, etc… walk into any retail store during the holiday’s and you’ll see that every thing is based around the theme. I start there to make specific arrangements that emphasize my theme.
What features of the home can really come to life with added flower arrangements?
The mantle, dining table and front porch/entry are always the firsts- but I think the unexpected areas are equally important- a little vase in the bathroom, an arrangement in the guest bedroom (and your bedroom too!) is always welcoming, and any accent tables just scream for vignettes during the holidays!
What are your top three tips for our readers when they want to create their own holiday flower arrangements?
Make sure you find fresh, healthy blooms and greens, change the water often to keep the longevity of the arrangement (and snip their ends each time you switch the water!) and have fun! Don’t feel stressed to make it look “just like the picture”- put your own style to it!
What types of flowers are perfect for the holiday season?
Roses and carnations are great for some festive color, hydrangeas (again) are great, evergreens and berries, and the seasonal blooms like paper whites, amaryllis, and poinsettias.
What kinds of decor aspects do you incorporate into the flower arrangements?
I love mixing in non-floral touches! Iced branches, twigs, berries, pinecones, ornaments, vintage decor…
Is there such a thing as overkill when it comes to your holiday floral arrangement and how do you stay away from that?
There’s a time and a place- you may have a large mantle to go all out on- or maybe a two story foyer- those places are great to go big or go home! Dining tables with mass flowers and decor is a huge pet peeve of mine– keep your guests in mind. No one wants to try and eat that amazing meal you’ve crafted with flowers, twigs and sappy greens in their face and on their plate. Simplistic elegance wins every time, I think we’ll start selling shirts that say that! 😉
What can a beautiful flower arrangement add to your overall holiday theme?
Look in all the magazines and shows- the ones with that gorgeous space all decorated to perfection and just cozy enough, they all have flowers. We all want that fresh element and it can completely transform any space! Especially on a cold, dreary day- a burst of colorful, fresh flowers are sure to brighten anyone’s day!
What kinds of natural wreaths and other features do you use to accompany your flower arrangements?
Whatever I can find! We order in items, collect from our own property and buy from various sources along the way. I love the natural touches that aren’t the same “expected” things to be mixed in with fresh flowers. I think they make such a statement!
What do you think is the most important thing for our readers to focus on when creating or selecting their flower arrangements for the holidays?
Have fun with it! Is it for a party, a dinner, just to enjoy each day? Get into it and be creative, it’ll make such a difference!
What do you think is the biggest challenge for our readers when creating or selecting their flower arrangements for the holidays and how can they overcome this challenge?
I think sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. We’re all so busy during the holidays- parties to attend, so much shopping to do, travel, guests, the lists are always a mile long! Especially when floral design is not in your “normal” activities it can be very intimidating, that’s where sharing with our team what you’re looking for and letting us take that stress off can be very helpful. Your guests will never need to know! 😉
Merry Christmas all! ♥