Debra Prinzing

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Episode 342: Transitioning from Studio to Retail Flower Shop with Carlee Donnelly of Seattle’s Rusted Vase Co.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Take the Pledge!!!

This week’s episode marks the 300,000th downloaded episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast and I couldn’t be more excited!

THANK YOU, everyone, for continuing to download, listen, comment and share these episodes. For more than four years, you’ve listened to my interviews with leading and emerging voices in the progressive floral community. It is humbling and encouraging to have your attention each week and to see how important and impactful the power of personal stories — and the sharing of them — is for you, the listener.

If you want to help me celebrate, you can show your support by joining the Slow Flowers Movement — join, sign up for the upcoming Slow Flowers Summit, and start planning your activities for American Flowers Week 2018. It all matters and every gesture of support, at any level, gives me the encouragement to continue this passion project that has grown far beyond anything I dreamed.

Carlee Donnelly of Rusted Vase Floral Co.

As we’re FINALLY into the spring season, it’s fitting to welcome today’s guest, Carlee Donnelly of Rusted Vase Floral Co.

I’m breathless about this amazing Rusted Vase Floral Co. bouquet palette! (c) Sasha Reiko Photography

Inspired by season and place, by Carlee Donnelly (c) Jason Lucas Photography

I met Carlee through several other Seattle area studio florists in 2017 when she joined Slow Flowers and participated in a beautiful co-op ad to promote locally-grown flowers to wedding audiences.

Adorable pre-opening photo in front of Carlee’s new studio-retail space in Seattle.

Centerpiece (left) (c) Matthew Land Photography

As with all of you, I try to follow along on your social media channels to keep in touch — that’s often how I come up with new Podcast episode ideas. And Carlee’s recent posts about her decision to open a retail floral space was one of those items that caught my attention.

A preview of the new, light-filled Rusted Vase Floral Co.

I recently visited Carlee in her new space on University Way, adjacent to the University of Washington campus. I know you’ll enjoy our conversation about her path to launch the Rusted Vase Floral Co., her sourcing practices and design philosophy and her decision to “go retail.”

A lush, cream and yellow floral centerpiece (c) Jason Lucas Photography

Here’s a little more about Carlee:

She writes: I am inspired by nature, texture, and color. I often use the natural beauty of the PNW and the places I travel to as inspiration for my designs. I believe flowers are most beautiful in their natural state, wild, unique, and wandering.

Sourcing local and sustainable flowers is a foundation of the Rusted Vase business model. Over 90% of the product used in my designs is sourced from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market a member owned, co-op made up of PNW farmers. 

No matter what I do, my goal is always the same- to provide flowers that make your heart fill with joy. My aim is to be there for you, to see our collaboration come to life, down to the very last bloom.  

Reds, corals and greens in abundance (c) Kamra Fuller Photography

A touch of exotic with farm-fresh flowers (c) Wyn Wiley Photography

Follow Carlee and the Rusted Vase Floral Co. at these social places:

Rusted Vase Floral Co. on Facebook

Rusted Vase Floral Co. on Instagram

Botanical artist Ellen Hoverkamp created our American Flowers Week 2018 image and branding!

Thanks so much for joining me today. Don’t forget to take advantage of the Slow Flowers Luxury Package — a promotion announced last week that continues through Earth Day, April 20th.

To participate, I urge you to register for the Slow Flowers Summit, scheduled for Friday, June 29th in Washington, D.C. Everyone who registers for the Slow Flowers Summit will be included in a drawing for a Slow Flowers Luxury Package, which includes a one-year Premium membership and one night’s complimentary lodging at the Marriott Wardman Park during the Summit.

The value of this prize package is $400 — more than double the $195 registration cost to Slow Flowers members. I’ll announce the winner of the Slow Flowers Luxury Package on Wednesday, April 25th.

Plus, as a thank you to everyone who makes an early commitment to attend the Summit, you’ll receive a special Slow Flowers gift that includes 100 American Flowers Week bouquet labels to adorn your flowers during the campaign AND a beautiful American Flowers Week poster featuring the red-white-and-blue botanical art of Ellen Hoverkamp — perfect for your shop or studio walls.

As I mentioned at the top of the show, The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 300,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing — it means so much.

As the Slow Flowers 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 at right.

Thank you to our sponsors who have supported Slow Flowers and all of our programs including this podcast, American Flowers Week, the online directory to American grown flowers, as well as our new channels, Slow Flowers Journal and the 2018 Slow Flowers Summit.

Thank you to our lead sponsor for 2018, Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for the new Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market. Take advantage of the special subscription offer for members of the Slow Flowers Community.

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of passionate family farms in the heart of Alaska providing bigger, better peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at

Longfield Gardens provides 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

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

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. Check them out at

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more 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

(c) Missy Palacol Photography

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:
These Times
by Blue Dot Sessions
Upbeat Whistle
by Dave Depper
Music from: