We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Barry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, what inspires you?
My inspiration as a florist comes from nature itself. I’m constantly in awe of the beauty of flowers and foliage. Whether I’m driving past a Willow Eucalyptus tree or marveling over the Dahlias in my mother’s garden, it never ceases to amaze me. Here in LA, we are so blessed to have the flower mart downtown. My supplier carries jaw-dropping blooms from local growers and all around the world. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful varieties of blooms. I love to incorporate texture and unexpected elements like rare garden roses or interesting foliage in my work. Along with nature, my clients inspire me. Each and every client has a different style and I enjoy translating that through the art of flora.
Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Years of hands-on experience in different flower shops helped guide me to where I am today. Without knowing the basics or having any of that training, I would have started with zero knowledge in the flower industry, which would have been much more difficult. Nonetheless, whether experienced or not, leaving a steady job and income to start a business is no small feat. It was really exciting but also scary for me, as I didn’t know if I’d get jobs or enough work, but I just held on to the exciting feeling instead of the doubt/fear of the unknown and built my business and clientele up from there My experience was as a retail shop florist, not a studio florist, who focuses on weddings and events as I do now, so I still had a lot to learn. Building a business is a lot of work. You pour your heart and soul into it. With that being said, it isn’t always smooth sailing, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. To name a few: My time is important, and while I want to give the most reasonable prices I can to clients, I have to make sure to value myself and my work. Not every client is right for me and I’m not right for every client and that is okay. It’s always best to be yourself, and the right jobs and clientele will naturally come to you. I absolutely love being able to create flower designs for weddings and special moments. It is an honor to play a small role on such important occasions. Aside from floral design, I’m also passionate about helping others in need. Giving back and helping others has always been important to me, so over the past few years, I’ve decided to intertwine that into my business’s mission. Every month we donate a portion of our sales to non-profit organizations. In the past it’s been Meals on Wheels, Save the Children, Children’s Hospital, Ozzie & Friends Rescue, etc. Currently, a portion of our profits are going to the Midnight Mission for meals for the homeless community in DTLA.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hands down I would take them to DTLA. We’d hit up the flower mart, I’d show them all of my favorite suppliers, and we’d buy some blooms! I’d take them to brunch after next door at Poppy + Rose (pre-COVID) or we’d drive a couple of blocks to grab an acai bowl at Backyard Bowls.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Part of my success has stemmed from the numerous flower shops and kind owners who accepted me, trained me, and also gave me the freedom to grow creatively. My first Job was at Fanny’s Flower Shop. My mom and I would help out during busy seasons (the owners were friends of ours), and this is where I learned the basics of flower prep and design. From then on, most of my jobs were at flower shops. The owners and designers I worked with throughout these various times, all taught me something that I still carry with me today. One shop that I have very fond memories of was my job at Blossoms Flower Shop (in the Bay Area-Northern CA). The owner, Denise, bought the shop and started the business when she was just 18. She recently retired after many successful years! She was a major inspiration to me, not only for her achievements but because she always believed in me and gave me creative freedom. Another person that I feel has really impacted the way I run my business is Alison Ellis of “Real Flower Business.” She is a florist based in Vermont, who is dedicated to helping other florists successfully run their businesses. She offers tips, videos, classes, and tons of great content. Her courses and education have really helped me improve my business. Lastly, I believe that I am where I’m at today because of my family and, of course, because of God. My parents are extremely supportive and have practically let me convert their entire garage to my “studio.” Without a space for my cooler or to store my flowers, I couldn’t run this business. My husband is a big part of the business as well. He helps with flower mart runs, deliveries, setting up and cleaning up at weddings, etc. I couldn’t do it without him. Our second designer, Erika, also plays an important role. She helps me prep and execute designs, and when we have a double or triple wedding weekend or when we need someone to hold down an event, she is our girl! Ultimately, I believe that my greatest source of success is God, who has not only blessed me with creativity, a skill, and a job but with so much more.
Amy Van Vlear Photo Aysia Lanae Photography Heather Guzel Photogaphy Becca Romero Creative