Fleurette, a Custom Floral Design Studio
Alex DeFaria is a floral artiste, and she’s living her dream in La Cañada Flintridge, California. Owning and running Fleurette, a custom floral design studio, means doing business by appointment only. The business model is a perfect fit with the local community. Find La Cañada in the Crescenta Valley to the northwest of Pasadena (think Rose Bowl). According to CNN Money in 2008, La Cañada Flintridge was the 17th most affluent town in America.
Regardless of that ranking, the great majority of readily available fresh flower offerings are found in… grocery stores. Alex smiles, explaining that it’s what really created the business niche for her.
My perfect client is someone who doesn’t have time and wants to make an impression on guests, or one who loves flowers and doesn’t mind spending a little more to get what they want. I consult with them to find out their wishes, and then I create delightful arrangements that they love.
By combining lush blooms with textural elements from the garden in unexpected ways, Alex presents natural, but sophisticated arrangements. Her own garden in La Cañada is an important source, and she also is a great supporter of local flower farmers.
Preparing the Flower Bed
Alex started her career working in advertising for a leading fashion firm, responsible for color and print production. From there, she advanced to a major entertainment company. Those beginnings sparked her passion for color and form, and how they relate to each other. Most important to Alex is how the combination makes her clients feel, and how it relates to each occasion. She has learned flower design from seasoned professionals in New York City, New England and Los Angeles.
Focus your attention with flowers, sometimes without knowing it, to what is organic, and present in the moment. Flowers are about time and place. My designs often include herbs, fruits and unique foliage to perfectly complement the Mediterranean inspired California table in our area.
How Does a Custom Floral Design Studio Work?
Request a consultation with Alex, to discuss your order and event. Make sure to express your ideas and remember to include your color palette. Alex will then submit an estimate for your approval, and begin to source what she needs. Every week she’s at the Los Angeles Flower Mart to buy flowers that are at the peak of freshness, abundant and in season.
Please call in advance for the best service, although Alex will try to accommodate last minute requests for flowers. You may always pick up your order at the Fleurette studio at no additional charge. If you prefer to have them delivered, let Alex know and your delivery fee will be included in the estimate.
Branding the Bouquets
Both Lily and Kate are very talented, and so patient with me. I worked with Lily on my logo. She understood my needs and she made the process very easy. She took the time to help me understand how the ALP logo process works. And she politely redirected me to keep on track.
To re-emphasize, the website questionnaire was very thorough, thankfully. Every single detail (and there were many) came together to form my website, though at times it was hard to envision. Kate took charge and guided me through the many steps, and at the end she presented me with a beautiful, functional website that fits Fleurette perfectly.
One thing I would advise. Have your ducks in a row beforehand, write your content and be ready with your photos. Realize that you will be deeply involved in the website creation process. After all, it will be your own website, and it won’t appear with a wave of Kate’s magic wand!
Light and Shadow and Design Elements
For Alex, the biggest challenge she faces is getting her name out in the community and letting people know what she does. Another part of it is educating people to what she doesn’t do – Fleurette is not a full service florist, but a studio. Contact in advance for a consultation, much like the ALP design and build process.
Another important obstacle is trying to maintain a profit margin. Fresh bouquets can be bought at Trader Joe’s for $3.99, and for someone on the go, or a last-minute gift, that fills a need. At Fleurette, you’re buying Alex’s expertise, acquired at great expense and time spent.
Alex’s biggest success has to be her faux succulents. Take a minute to drool over them in the feature image! She first ran across them in another Etsy shop but couldn’t find them anywhere for herself. Then she saw them on display elsewhere and said to herself, ‘Shoot, I can do that.’ Her source for them is a secret, but we can tell you that she hand paints a great many of them, and they are astounding.
Advice for someone wanting to do the same thing
Make sure that you have your equipment in place so you’re prepared. Hard goods, vases, refrigeration, and so much more. Know how to calculate your flower math formulas. Don’t spend more money on your arrangements than you expected. Search the internet for how to start out being profitable. If you offer goods and services too cheaply, you’ll end up hurting everyone.
When Alex went to school to study how to design flowers, there was a very small section about business practices. So, you need to figure it out as you go along. Work at any freelance job that you can, to get experience in different business models – warehouse, flower shop, studio.
What is your niche in the marketplace? Decide that first, then proceed. Know your business.