Since I branched out on my own, one of my favorite things to do is visit the studios of fellow creatives. They are a constant source of inspiration to my own work and keep me inspired to continue to reach and stretch my own potential.
Without a doubt, one person who has been a beacon of influence for me has been Natalie of Natalie Bowen Designs. In all truth, she has been much more than that – she is a dear friend who I know will always help me to become a better person as I continue down this road of creativity. I met Natalie when she did the flowers for our wedding nearly six years ago. Since then, we have created a multitude of memories together. Whenever I visit her workspace, I am both inspired and in awe. Natalie has a way of making even the simplest detail important. Wallpaper in the smallest of bathrooms, a plate of goodies no matter when you visit, and a garden you want to endlessly linger in. Having the privilege to feature Natalie’s workspace has been something I am thrilled to share with you!
Floral design is something that runs in your family. Did you always know it was what you wanted to pursue?
When I was a child I imagined that I would work in a high-rise building with an elevator and wear power suits to work. It was the 80’s after all. However, sometime in college I started to day-dream about working in a flower shop and how much fun I thought it would be. As soon as I graduated I got a job in a flower shop and soon realized that my dream of working with flowers was totally inaccurate but also where my heart was going to lead me.
How is your floral design approach influenced by your educational background in industrial design? What do these two fields have in common?
My education in industrial design was brief and limited to an undergraduate degree and when I was in school I had the expectation that I would go to graduate school. I often feel as if starting a business has been my version of continuing my educational process. I feel as if I love seeing the way one design relates to the space around it which I think is influenced from my background. My husband is an architect, and we spend a lot of time talking about the way things are built in relationship to their surroundings. After being together for eight years I often joke that I could have a degree in architecture by now.
How has your floral styled evolved over the years?
When I started my work was much more tight and I used fewer varieties of flowers. I have developed my style to be much more naturally designed playing with the instinctual movement of a particular stem or branch. When I look at my work from the past, I do see that I have consistently designed with purpose and a little structure. Like my personal style, I’m always developing the details while staying dedicated to my true nature.
I’m constantly in awe of your work and how you have this particular style that is stunning and timeless. What do you do to stay inspired?
Oh Caitlin, that means so much coming from you. I have a dedication to staying fresh and try and pull my inspiration from non-floral sources. I don’t want to be overly influenced by what others are doing, so I try and nurture my creative side by indulging in fashion, art and architecture and then letting my expression truly come from within. If I spend too much time looking at what others are doing, I feel the opposite of inspired.
From an outsider’s perspective, working in the floral industry seems like it would be a job that’s quite literally filled with flowers, sunshine and cheer–like something straight out of a Meg Ryan RomCom. But it certainly can’t be THAT perfect ALL of the time. What are some of the challenges to the job that we don’t see or realize from the outside?
The reality of working with flowers is that it is often not a pretty job. I spend more time behind a computer than doing anything else and as a team we all spend time dumping compost, cleaning candles, cleaning dirty thorny flowers and shlepping. There is so much sherpa shlepping and car driving I cannot even tell you. Oh, and the hours are insane. When you work with flowers you get up int he wee hours of the morning and that doesn’t mean you end your day any earlier than the next person. Make sure you can think and be creative at 4am before you get into this business. I also work most weekends which isn’t terribly hard for me since I am so used to it, but I do know my husband would prefer to have me around more. I had the Meg Ryan version of this job in my head when I started but I soon realized the reality of what it takes to do what I do well. Yet, I still love it so much.
What’s the most valuable piece of career advice you’ve been given?
1. Do good work and put it out there.
2. Concentrate on developing your strengths not getting better at your weaknesses.
3. Get enough sleep.
If you had the chance to design the florals for ANYONE (famous or normal) and ANY event, who/what would it be?
I would love to design flowers for a personal party for Martha Stewart and then have her LOVE them. I’ve always loved her.
Ok, now give us the insider’s scoop… Talk to us about an up-and-coming “trend” you’re forecasting or starting to see in floral design.
After several seasons of all blush everything, I have been happy to see richer and deeper colors coming back in to trend. I love color, so this makes me happy. I also foresee more ikebana styled designs that highlight negative space also becoming popular.
A huge thank you to Natalie for giving us a glimpse into her stunning studio. Our November Blooms in Season post will be live in early November that will definitely have you thinking about your Thanksgiving flowers.
Photos by Emily Scott for Sacramento Street