We recently connected with floral designer and owner of Carbon and Co., Rachel Fletcher to ask her a few questions about sourcing and working with local flowers. She graciously shared her insights and expertise on meeting client expectations without losing her design aesthetic and personal brand. You can learn more about Rachel and her stunning floral design work on her site.
Any advice for buyers getting started with local flowers?
Designers getting started with local blooms can often fear the uncertainty that comes with learning a new way to do things. It feels like there’s less stability than the usual practice of ordering through a traditional wholesaler where you can often “reserve” orders weeks or months in advance. In my experience, however, if a designer pushes through that initial discomfort, they will experience the delight that comes with access to such nuanced color palettes, delicate yet hardy blooms, and availability that follows nature’s cues and creates creative opportunities.
How do you set clear expectations with your buyers?
For the past few years, buying locally has been one of the hallmarks of my business. I even talk about it explicitly on my website. Because local blooms have such an impact on my design, I want future clients to know right away that if they want ranunculus in August or fields of orchids, I’m probably not the best fit for them.
My goal in the proposal process is to earn my client’s trust, and when people feel seen, known, and understood on what they feel is the most important day of their lives, they don’t seem to feel the need to know the variety of every flower stem. Because they trust you are the expert, so they don’t have to be. None of my clients have gotten married over one hundred times, but I’ve certainly done over one hundred weddings. When I focus on getting to the root of the feeling and vibe they’re going for, highlight the wonderful perks of using local flowers, and remind them that I will use the very best of what their season has to offer, it feels like a win instead of a concession.
How do you meet client expectations without losing your design aesthetic?
Buying locally means leaning into the tension a little bit. It means being honest, earlier on in the process, that I may not know what exact variety will be available by which exact date. I actually can’t guarantee a specific flower for a specific date-- and it’s important to remember that realistically, no one can, even those using traditional wholesalers. We’ve seen this time and again with freak weather occurrences or last year’s white rose apocalypse.
So instead of staking my aesthetic or reputation on a specific flower variety, I communicate the color palette that works best for their style for this time of year, which varieties I plan on using, whether the arrangements will be whimsical, romantic, tailored, or wild, etc. Focusing on communicating feelings and story through flowers has always been a win for me. When people feel seen and heard, the details fade away.