Debra Prinzing

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Episode 467: Local Flowers for California’s Wine Country, with Santa Rosa floral designer Olivia Rivas of Papillon

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Olivia Rivas of Papillon. We first met when I was invited to spend a few days touring the Sonoma County local flower scene as a guest of North Bay Flower Collective in the spring of 2016.

That trip yielded a series of Slow Flowers Podcast episodes, but I wasn’t able to record an interview with Olivia. On the other hand, I do recall our memorable car ride and great conversation as she shuttled me from one venue to another on that visit. Later, when Olivia was in Seattle to attend a workshop with Ariella Chezar, we enjoyed another melding of the floral minds over a meal.

I am very much inspired by Olivia’s personal journey, recently featured in my Q&A with her that you can read in the August issue of Florists’ Review. You can read that story here:

Like many of us, pursuing a life of and vocation immersed in flowers became Olivia’s second career. I know you’ll find her story inspiring, as she was determined to educate herself as a designer and to find her own place in the profession.

We’ve been corresponding and chatting quite a bit recently, and I was also interested in Olivia’s decision-making process around running a business during the COVID-19 pandemic — so I’ve asked her to share about those choices. You’ll find lots to which you can relate, as these are topics we are all living out in real time.

Here’s how you can find and follow Olivia Rivas of Papillon:

Olivia Rivas on Facebook

Papillon on Instagram

Thanks so much for joining me today for my conversation with Olivia Rivas of Papillon. I want you to read a few comments she shared in our Florists’ Review article because they are so relatable and timely:

Q: How have you adapted to stay-in-place orders?
A: This has been the most insane, extreme and confounding year I’ve ever encountered – in life and in business. The quarantine and shelter-in-place orders have been important and necessary, but it’s also been heartbreaking. I’ve had to lay off all of my employees and we closed the store for half of March and all of April. We had a very strong Mother’s Day and now I’ve started to come back to life, although with only one employee – me. With the new challenges of social distancing, wearing masks and trying to maintain no contact, I decided to move everything online. The process of getting everything I sell — soap, jewelry, plants, vases, stationary, and now masks — loaded onto my website has been time consuming and tedious, but I truly believe that this is the world now. A florist can still be unique, based on what you offer and how you present it, and I decided that if I’m going to survive this, I have to have a specific curated shopping experience ready.

Q: Advice for others who want to adopt the Slow Flowers mission?
A: I can’t say enough about the importance of using local flowers in our shop. We live in a world where you can buy tulips anytime, but I believe using flowers out of season takes away that “specialness.” I also encourage people to use less harmful materials when conducting their flower business. It may take a little more time at first, but the results will make you personally healthier and help you do a small part for our future. I urge people to visit the @nofloralfoam page on Instagram for more information and for how-to instruction on no foam mechanics.

Coming up this weekend, beginning on Sunday, August 23 and continuing through Wednesday, August 26th, I’m participating as an instructor in an online conference called the Fleurvana Virtual Summit. Founded by Shawn Michael Foley and Gina Thresher, Fleurvana offers great content for anyone who wants to enhance their floral career!

Now through Saturday August 22nd, you can get a free ticket to attend the LIVE sessions.

You can watch 30 presentations tailored to you — Elevate your floral career and business! I’ll be presenting on “Creative Vocabulary to Enhance Your Brand,” and three other Slow Flowers Members are also presenting, including Gina Thresher of From the Ground Up Floral, Tonneli Gruetter of Salty Acres Farm and Jim Martin of Compost in My Tea.

If you miss out on grabbing a ticket to the LIVE sessions, you can register after the fact for an affordable VIP pass to watch the presentations at your own pace.

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 634,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much.

As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.

Thank you to our Sponsors

This podcast is brought to you by, the free, nationwide online directory to florists, shops, and studios who design with American-grown flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms.  It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

And thank you to Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. Read our stories at

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at

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

Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. 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 Brenlan. Learn more about his work at

Music Credits:

Heliotrope; Heartland Flyer; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

Lovely by Tryad

In The Field