True Naturals: Talking Shop With Two of Our Favorite Floral Designers

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Spring has officially sprung! With warmer weather and snow melted—well, at least for most of us—the first crocuses have popped through the bleak landscape and blooms are on their way. It is safe to assume spring is a magical time of year, not only for the cabin-fever crazed, but also for florists and flower designers. With more offerings available, bouquets are growing fuller at flower shops across the country and we got down to business with two of our favorite independent flower power women who not only run their companies effortlessly, but are true naturals when it comes to floral expression.

Kelly Marie Thompson from Fleur owns and operates a delightful independent floral boutique in the heart of Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. With a handpicked selection of trinkets and gifts, her shop offers a unique experience along with an incredible floral selection. Whether you walk through and make a bouquet from what you see on display or set up a custom order with Thompson herself, Fleur is known for their long-lasting and one-of-a-kind designs. About to celebrate their 13th year in business, it is safe to say Thompson and her team at Fleur know a thing or two about the floral craft.

A bit farther west, in Salt Lake City, Utah to be exact, Ashley Beyer’s floral design company Tinge mainly focuses on weddings and special events, but, from a quick glance at her website, Beyer’s full and wild designs have editorial grace written all over them. Her aesthetic is romantic and bold with a vibrant and natural wildness all its own.

Via email, we reached out to both women and got the scoop on where they draw inspiration from as well as the best and worst parts of the business. Though they both had different views on spring bouquet trends, both designers are creating some of our favorite floral looks today and have a unique and charming aesthetic perfectly theirs.

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Paste : What led you initially to the floral design world?

Kelly Marie Thompson: I grew up in a standard Chicago bungalow with a little yard. This small bit of land was covered in every possible spot with flowers by my mother who loves gardening. I was surrounded by peonies, lilacs, roses, snapdragons, potted annuals and would play under the apple tree in the back. Flowers were rooted in my heart and mind so early, I don't think I could have escaped them if I wanted to.

Ashley Beyer: I spent a long time looking for a creative outlet. I went to the University of Utah and received a degree in public relations. I was working in that field when I realized it just wasn't the right fit. I had spent some time in flower shops and helping other florists and I just decided that I needed to just go for it. I had a long time to think about what I wanted Tinge to be, but it really was just one day I decided and I went for it. I really believe that if more people in the world were spending their time utilizing their talents instead of just doing what is practical, it would be a happier more interesting world.

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Paste : What would you say inspires your work the most? Any key places or influential sites?

Thompson: Nature and art in general. I studied art history in college and loved painting and printmaking. Back then one of my favorite subjects was nature. The sky and landscapes have so many palettes that are breathtaking. I try my best to find an artfulness in all aspects of life. It's so important to continually be impressed by little things like a little Queen Anne's Lace that found its way to grow through a crack in a city sidewalk, or on a day off take even just an hour at a museum when you're surrounded by paperwork and orders.

Beyer: I'm very inspired by color itself. I find the variations of colors on blooms so incredible. I love finding a way to marry two colors together with mid tones and textures. Our travels to Europe have been very inspiring as well. Wandering through museums and seeing Dutch Masters paintings felt very reminiscent of how florists arrange today.

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Paste : Any particular spring trends you are most excited for?

Thompson: The word “fresh” is used more and more as a feeling in descriptions of wedding days. Lots of neutral colors with lovely greenery, sometimes a pop of color.

Beyer: More color! I'm glad to see the blush and white tones happening less often.

Paste : And just for fun, what would your dream bouquet look like?

Thompson: I'm so fortunate that I had it for my own wedding! It was filled with yellow peonies, ranunculus, lily of the valley and clematis. My wedding was outdoors on a lake in Wisconsin and I was allowed to forage some greenery from the grounds. That made my bouquet extra special. Anytime my husband and I go back to visit I hold everything especially dear.

Beyer: Mmmm. My dream bouquet would be constructed of pieces from each season. Seeing two ingredients together that you can only get in the fall and in the spring would open a whole new world of combinations.

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Paste : And last but not least, what would you say is the best/worst part of working with flowers?

Thompson: There is always something new with each season, and there is always something to be learned. I think the worst part for me is when peony season ends.

Beyer: That they are fleeting. But it really is the best and worst part. You appreciate their beauty more knowing that they will have a short-lived life.

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