All About Flora & Forage - continued

Like a novice florist, Flora & Forage was developed by trial and error and learning through experience. At a young age, freshly blossoming as a high school graduate, I propelled forward searching for life experiences. It was through a variety of jobs and locations, the importance of assessing conducive conditions to improve was a valuable lesson. Between an administration assistant job in  Ottawa to a fast paced, industry life in Calgary,  I knew deep down there was no heart or passion in it for me. As it often happens in life, circumstances and opportunity had other plans in the works. A co-worker of mine knew a woman that owned a unique flower shop and thought that we should meet after I expressed my love for flowers to him. Wanda at Wildflowers became my first mentor. As difficult as it was to adjust to the career and income change, having my soul and my heart nourished was something I needed, and was so much more fulfilling. Wanda saw the potential perennial in me. She watered my confidence, pruned away doubt and gave space for me to grow into my own, that kept coming back healthier and stronger year after year. For three  years, I apprenticed alongside Wanda and her passion, vision and lust for discovery is embedded in the core of who I am as a professional.

I loved my time with Wanda but due to struggles with addiction and because of health concerns,  I moved back home to Sarnia, Ontario in 2013. After a lengthy recovery and with help from friends and family, I got back to work, took better care of myself, and got motivated!! To nurture myself with the same delicate care I would for my flowers, I built a fence around my garden to prioritize, protect and tend to my vision. My vision was clear; I knew exactly what I was meant to do, I needed to be in the flower business! I followed my heart, explored my passions, and that led me to Toronto. I knew if I were going to excel at my craft and become the best florist I could be, it would be the ample conditions for success and growth. Along the way I found that after each new experience and lesson, I was able to flourish as a designer, my creativity began to flow more, and Flora & Forage’s style took shape. I gained the confidence and trust in myself to be able to share my passion and my visions with the likes of you.  

Toronto has done many things to change my life, but Toronto really changed my life when I met Adrian! Adrian is my future husband, best friend, biggest supporter / support system and the second part to FF. Adrian shows me that the passion in my heart and soul not only leads to happiness in life, but also business. We challenge and excite each other to grow [pun intended] on a daily basis. His commitment to Flora & Forage is singular [other than for me of course!]. In our early days we used our bedroom as a floral cooler now we are in the process of renovating our second studio space in Camlachie. His support, strength, patience and love help to make the business as successful as it is. He is calm to my storm. The organization to my chaos and, the brawn to my beauty.

When reflecting on the seasons of Flora & Forage, it can be compared to the lotus flower; known for resilience and perseverance through cycles of life. This symbolic flower is a powerful metaphor for us. At times, there is no visible fruition but we can remind ourselves of the strong roots of purpose that maintains the foundation of the quality of our work and experiences we share with our customers, aka friends. Making the choice to chase a creative career can be very daunting at times. You can have moments where you feel like you are not doing or creating enough, your social media presence is lacking and that finding your niche is getting you stuck in a rut. As Frederickson states, “the day we plant the seed is not the day we will eat the fruit”. This sentiment reminds me of the relationship between nature and humans and human nature to find beauty in the foraging of life regardless of environment.

Flora & Forage has been in operation since 2017 as a Sole Proprietorship. After ten years in the floral industry, managing multiple flower shops, and becoming lead wedding designer for a notable florist shop in Toronto, with gained knowledge and experience it was time to branch out on our own. In the first year, while in Toronto, our budding business had a total of twelve couples. Our design space for flowers was in a west facing building with floor to ceiling windows and only central air. In this 500 sq ft condo, we turned their bedroom into a cooler with fans operating at each end. Buckets of ice underneath the fans helped keep the temperature appropriate for flowers. The living room was the bedroom and the kitchen doubled as the design space. 

The second year was spent designing in the basement of Candice’s sister’s house. It is a charming old home in Sarnia that has a great cold storage room attached to it, which was converted into the  flower cooler. In this year thirty one weddings were completed and thanks to word of mouth, social media and the need for some airy, elegant and eclectic florals, we set our roots and flourished. In the third year, we moved to Camlachie, Ontario and successfully completed thirty six weddings and we also introduced workshops that allowed the community to create and learn about flowers/foraging. The fourth year, a new direction was determined for us. We had planned on keeping things smaller, only taking on twenty weddings and focusing on private workshops. Due to the pandemic of 2020, weddings were postponed and workshops had to be replanted into different creative spaces to not only survive but thrive. We offered a porch drop Mothers Day event, ten micro weddings that reminded society about the importance of an intimate wedding with the ones who mean the most. Thanksgiving turned out to be successful with several pumpkin centrepieces and Winter months kept us busy with wreaths, planters and our infamous Grinch trees. 

Like a plant bending towards the brightest light, we have innovated and adapted our movements to support life and beauty for ourselves and others. The most rewarding feeling occurs when the natural artistic flow is found, friendships organically grow which stemmed from client meetings and the bouquet of memories and moments that are a collective experience, shared through the beauty of a flower.  We strive to provide  every Bride and Groom the chance to have the wedding of their dreams.  If we can leave you with anything, we leave you with this…

Discover your connection. Live a life of passion. And make your dreams come true. 

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