Episode 260: Blooming in Colorado with Robyn Rissman of BareRoot Flora and Alicia Schwede of Bella Fiori Floral Design and Flirty Fleurs
August 31st, 2016
Earlier this month I returned to Longmont, Colorado, just outside Boulder, to a beautiful destination called The Fresh Herb Co.
Flower farmers Chet and Kristy Anderson, past guest of this podcast, again hosted an al fresco Field to Vase Dinner for the Certified American Grown campaign.
Slow Flowers and yours truly continues to be involved in the Field to Vase Dinner series — as a sponsor and co-host.
I have loved spending time in Colorado over the past several years, getting to know flower farming leaders like Chet and Kristy, and meeting others in the floral world, including designers, florists and retailers who value local flowers.
I flew into Denver three days before the August 13th event at The Fresh Herb Co. and picked up a rental car for what turned out to be a 5-hour drive west — across the state to the Western Slope of Colorado.
My destination was Zephyros Flower Farm, where Slow Flowers members Daphne Yannakakis and Don Lareau hosted me for a few days.
You’ll hear my interview with them in September. Another upcoming Colorado episode will introduce you to Megan McGuire of Red Daisy Farm in Brighton, where I spent a few nights after returning to the Front Range/Denver area.
Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to the design team responsible for creating the floral presentation at Boulder’s Field to Vase Dinner. Typically featured Field to Vase Dinner florists are selected from those who are active Slowflowers.com members, and this is considered a valuable opportunity and perk. At the beginning of 2016 when Kathleen Williford, the dinner tour’s former event planner, and I put our heads together, we were in immediate agreement that Robyn Rissman of Bare Root Flora in Denver was our top choice.
When I reached out to Robyn to chat about the opportunity, our conversation turned to the Flirty Fleurs Magazine, a collaboration between Robyn and her good friend Alicia Schwede, of the Flirty Fleurs blog.
The publication has been produced each of the past two years and I’ve contributed articles to both the 2014 and 2015 editions, so while Robyn and I didn’t really know one another, she was familiar with my work and I was certainly familiar with her work.
During our phone conversation I was hit with a brainstorm and said: What if we asked Alicia to work with you on the flowers for the Field to Vase Dinner? And that was the cincher for the deal! Alicia’s deep ties to Colorado, where she lived and worked as a florist for more than a decade, made their partnership a natural option.
In the conversation I recorded with the two women, you’ll pick up on the ease with which they collaborate as friends and professionals who respect and admire one another.
Here’s a little more about Robyn, from her web site:
She writes: I once envied people who’d found passion in their work—who lived for and loved their craft. And then I was lucky enough to find mine. In some ways, I’m only surprised it took me as long as it did. I’ve been in love with weddings for as long as I can remember.
There’s just something incredibly special about a day where two people are surrounded by the people they love most in the world. And getting to share in that day is such a privilege.
This is not just my job; it’s my passion. That I’ve been able to make being creative my profession is a gift I’m grateful for every day. This is exactly where I’m meant to be.
Bare Root Flora is a boutique botanical design house specializing in craft flowers for weddings and social events. Our style is lush, textural, wild and alive! We handle events of all sizes, from small, intimate gatherings to large and lavish galas.
Our clients are in love with flowers and they sense a kindred spirit in us. They know flowers are one of the best ways to set an unforgettable scene at their wedding. They can’t imagine their day without something lush, beautiful and memorable when it comes to flowers and it’s why they choose us to be a part of their event! We’re in love with gorgeous, wild blooms and foliages, and in using them to create something stunning and special — because design isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are.
Here’s a little more about Alicia, from her web site:
It all started a long time ago while growing up in Northern California. My childhood was filled with days of playing in my grandmother’s rose garden and clipping sweetpeas & lilacs from the neighbors’ gardens. Flowers remained with me even when I got a ‘grown up’ post college job working at a computer software company in San Francisco – a vase full of my grandmother’s roses sat next to that computer!
Alas, that ‘grown up’ job just wasn’t right for me and in the evenings I took floral design classes at San Mateo College just to be creative .. never thinking it was leading me to my next career!
2002 brought a move to Denver, Colorado and in 2003 I launched my business, Bella Fiori. For 10 years I designed, designed and then designed some more!
It was a wild ride, it was a good time, I’m thankful for all I learned and for the amazing friends who came into my life! 2013 brought a move to Washington state for my husband to pursue a career opportunity. Yes, I do still design flowers for weddings & events — I love it too much to quit! Along with writing the Flirty Fleurs blog, teaching floral design workshops, coaching new business owners, gardening on our one acre (can’t call myself a flower farmer by any means, I’m just happy to be gardening!), traveling to Holland and any place else I can get my flower fix, hanging out in Santa Barbara every January for Florabundance Inspirational Design Days, visiting flower farms in Washington State, and the list goes on!
As for Flirty Fleurs, it started as an idea in May 2010 when I was talking with a few of my flower friends – I said to them, I want a blog where we can just talk about flowers, where we can support other florists, where we can tell the world how great floral designers are!!
Listen to my December 2013 Podcast interview with Alicia here.
Connect with and follow Alicia Schwede here:
Bella Fiore on Facebook
Bella Fiore on Twitter
Bella Fiore on Instagram
Flirty Fleurs on Facebook
Flirty Fleurs on Twitter
Flirty Fleurs on Instagram
Connect with and follow Robyn Rissman here:
Bare Root Flora on Facebook
Bare Root Flora on Twitter
Bare Root Flora on Instagram
The next Field to Vase Dinner is coming up on Wednesday, September 14th at David Beahm’s Thistle Dew Farm in Quakertown, Pennsylvania (Buck’s County).
A year ago, when I featured an interview with David on this podcast, he made a statement about wanting to host a Field to Vase Dinner on his new cut flower farm. Little did we know that it would happen so quickly! If you have any desire to get in on the local-flowers event of the year, tickets are still available.
I have a very special discount code for $40 off the ticket price available only to members of the Slow Flowers community, so please get in touch if you are interested in using it. You can grab it by emailing me at debra (at) slowflowers (d0t) com.
I can’t close without sharing a shout-out to all the amazing students I spent time with last weekend at the first Slow Flowers Creative Workshop.
Held in Santa Cruz with talented floral designer Teresa Sabankaya, a past guest of this podcast, our 2-day workshop focused on brand building through floral storytelling and garden-inspired design.
We worked with exclusively local flowers, from California farms such as California Pajarosa and Joseph & Sons, and we clipped generously from Teresa’s private garden in Bonny Doon, the namesake of her business: Bonny Doon Garden Co. Check out the post I recently shared, where you can learn more about this curriculum and how to take part in a future Creative Workshop.
Today, August 31st, is the final day you can take advantage of a special SLOWFLOWERS promotional code to enjoy a 15% discount when you order a Day Pass for Detroit Flower Week in October. Follow links to the ticket-order page here and use the promocode SLOWFLOWERS — all one word.
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 115,000 times by listeners like you. THANK YOU to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.
If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found in the right margin of our home page.
Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2016: Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers. To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.
More sponsor thanks goes to Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.
A big bouquet of thanks goes to Longfield Gardens… providing home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at lfgardens.com.
And finally, thank you Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com
Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew and Hannah Brenlan. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com.