IMAGE: FROM CHAPEL DESIGNERS LONDON 2017
DESIGNER: SHERI JENTSCH, AIFD, TMF
BUSINESS: SHERI J FLORAL DESIGN | NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS
What is a Chapel Designer? We get asked this question a lot! In a nutshell, a Chapel Designer is a member of an international collective of wedding and event floral designers called The Chapel Designers. Under the direction of founder Holly Heider Chapple, the organization not only educates, supports, and mentors creatives, but also encourages individual designers to be his or her most authentic self.
While we can answer the question based on Holly Chapple's vision, we thought it might be more helpful to pose the question to individual Chapel Designers and get their perspectives. Here's what a few of them had to say:
My definition of a CD has definitely been redefined in the last 9 months. A CD is the glue, the love, the support that held me together, lifted me up and inspired me during my battle with breast cancer. I can sincerely say that being a CD is what gave me the peace of mind that my business would not fail while I was forging this battle. Without the love and hands on support of my CD family, I'm not sure my business could have sustained viability. -Parie Donaldson, Parie Designs, Amarillo, Texas
I think a Chapel Designer is a florist/floral designer that loves their job so much they never want to stop learning, growing and improving this industry. That's what I see in this tribe! -Jil Peterson, Stables Flower Co, Coleraine, United Kingdom
They are magical, wonderful unicorns in the business of floral design. Extremely supportive and your biggest cheerleaders. -Ozzie Gromada Meza, Gromeza Floral Design Studio, Chicago, Illinois
We are a community of incredibly talented florists who inspire and raise each other up. We want to elevate the industry and expand our own knowledge and skills. Being a part of this group has most certainly pushed me farther both in creativity and in terms of business sense. It's an incredible resource and I have met some truly amazing people who I now consider to be friends, and people who I can call if I need an extra set of hands! -Blair Roberts, Sweet Blossoms LLC, Frederick, Maryland
For me being a Chapel Designer is about family ...the talent, support and experience in this group is unparalleled -we're all family, we're here for one another in all aspects, we help one another with our business needs as well as supporting one another in our personal lives and Holly makes sure each one of us feels her love. It's our safe place in this tough industry. - Lisa Radu, Aspen Florist, Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
I think Chapel Designers are dedicated to "doing better" and running a business with integrity, professionalism and on-point mechanics & technique. We also share our knowledge freely with one another without fear of competition. -Alison Ellis, Floral Artistry, Jericho, Vermont
For me it's a safe place (my flower family) to ask questions, share and grow with like minded floral designers who are seeking quality designs while running profitable businesses with integrity & professionalism. -Janelle Gerestein, Flowers by Janie, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Being a CD is what brought me back and pushed me past my cancer. It gave me the confidence to re-launch my life in the direction that I love. It honored my inner warrior and helped me transition my strength back to living. It is a constant source of confidence, both professionally and personally. Such a unique energy. It's being part of a team. Having colleagues and coaches helps me take the risks necessary to run a business and be creative. It is really a family. -Lindsay Diminick, Yellow Twist Floral Design, Scarborough, Maine
As the sole CD in South Africa, the Chapel Designers have become my beautiful floral family - many of whom I have never met -but yet they all have a beautiful desire to assist their fellow CDs. I am in my 3rd year of being a CD and I can promise it is life changing, uplifting, and inspiring. As with any organisation, the culture comes from the top and I truly believe that the CD group is a massive testament to the huge heart of Holly Chapple and her love for her industry and peers/colleagues. -Coral Shortt, Green Goddess Flower Studio, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
A Chapel Designer is - or is seeking to become - an artist who uses flowers as their creative medium. They're open to traditional rules and techniques, but also willing to break them. There is strength in numbers and joining the CD community encourages floral creatives to flourish - personally and professionally. Floristry can be an isolating industry, however the CDs embrace you, emulating Holly, on every level! -Sarah Allen, Love at First Sight Styling, Watford, United Kingdom
For me being a CD is about altruistic creativity and support -Nadia Di Tullio Steele, Nadia Di Tullio Flowers, Ashbourne, Derby, United Kingdom
Validation, support and encouragement... with a little crazy thrown in. It is having people who understand your vocation and lifestyle but on a global scale who you might not have even met! -Sarah Richardson, Leafy Couture, Otley, United Kingdom
Being a CD is a journey of discovery. -Yvonne Ramsay, Ollie-Rose & Blu, Killearn, Scotland
We are family. Special family. So many good gifts shared by all. We have similar ideals and share in the love of all things beautiful. Flowers, tablescapes, creativity, china, ribbon, relationships! We are a tribe. We are diverse and like minded. We are magical and mystical, and somehow, woven together in ways that are difficult to describe. Yet, time after time I feel a connection with CDs beyond any other relationships I've known. And it feels safe and cozy and fun and funny and exciting and thrilling, changing all the time. Being a CD has never, for me, been a disappointment . And I've never met a CD that I didn't like! That's a lot of good stuff!! -Rebecca Raymond, Rebecca Raymond Floral, Vashon Island, Washington
Learning heart. Listening to my heart. Designing from it.
I have the formalities with coming from AIFD. But, these people over here design with their souls. It's not something that's easily trained. -Gina Thresher, From The Ground Up Floral, Kent, Washington
I've been thinking a lot about this for the last few weeks as it's all coming together for me on so many levels - and I know that the daily inspiration that I find with these creative, business savvy people has changed my life. And, I don't mean just my professional life. It's a blessing. I mustered the courage to reach out and become a Chapel Designer after volunteering at Flower House in Detroit. My role was minuscule but everyone was incredibly kind, happy, and there was such a collaborative spirit. Only in retrospect did I learn that most of the people that I was interacting with were Chapel Designers. And, so it goes on... Thank you for your giving spirit. Thank you for your kindness and your brutal honesty. Thank you for your inspiration. It's given me the confidence and knowledge to move forward in my business, contribute to my family and have more confidence in myself and my endeavors. -Julia Girdler, The Petal Lady LLC, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
A kind ear, listening heart. A tool. An open refuge of giving and receiving. A reservoir of knowledge and spirit of enthusiasm and genuine, honest, kind good will within the floral industry. -Christy Hulsey, Colonial House of Flowers, Statesboro, Georgia
Sisters Dawn Clark and Mary Coombs exemplify Holly Chapple's vision for the Chapel Designers organization and we're thrilled to bring their story to you as they celebrate 10 years in business as A Garden Party. Tami & Ryan Photography captured the images in this post at their anniversary celebration in Elmer, New Jersey. Congratulations on 10 years of hard work, trials endured and sweet success, Dawn & Mary!
We recently sat down with Dawn and Mary to get some insight into their flower journey and the root of their success growing A Garden Party.
Chapel Designers: Thanks for sitting down with us and sharing your story! Can you take us briefly through your floral journey starting with the creation of A Garden Party and describe how A Garden Party has changed over the years?
A Garden Party: Our journey started as most creative careers do - in the daily life of our childhood. We always loved picking flowers for our Mom and annual trips to Longwood Gardens inspired a sense of respect and fascination with Mother Nature. As we got older, our participation in our high school's FFA program helped structure our flower arranging while degrees at Penn State for Mary and SUNY Cobleskill for Dawn solidified our career choices. It has been incredible watching our business evolve - we have so much more confidence in our style now and have had the good fortune of being able to select clients who love flowers as much as we do. In the beginning, you take whatever job you can, and just hope that you can share your creativity and influence. Now, our clients trust us to fly a bit more freely and we have so much pride in the work we create.
Chapel Designers: What services does A Garden Party provide?
A Garden Party: A Garden Party provides a myriad of services to help with event design and decor. Beyond floral elements such as bouquets and centerpieces, we've escalated our rental inventory to set up lounge areas, pipe and drape, lighting, custom signage and specialty linens. An added event design fee will secure us to help clients with the room layout, linen selections, seating cards, and overseeing any furniture rentals. We also offer DIY Wedding Parties for clients to come with their friends and family members and create their own wedding flowers based on our recommendations and recipes.
Chapel Designers: What is the most valuable lesson you've learned over the course of your career?
A Garden Party: The most valuable lesson we've learned would be to maintain a sense of gratitude. Every client that books us is trusting us and helping us to achieve our dream. Even if we don't necessarily have the exact same style as some clients, these are the people who are making our careers a possibility and it's important to respect the opportunity they are giving us. Being grateful to clients includes being respectful in our transparency - our proposals lay out exactly where each dollar they pay us is going. We're grateful for the nature of our career - we get to do what we want, what we love to do. We get to prioritize our schedule to make time for our families and maintain control over how we want to run our business. We are also grateful for other vendors! I can't imagine if there weren't amazing photographers who take the time to focus on our details at an event, to submit weddings and send us the images for promotions. High quality wedding planners and venue coordinators are also great relationships for booking clients - these types of recommendations are so important in helping us acquire the types of events that are to the scale we love.
Chapel Designers: What have been your biggest challenges along the way and how did you overcome those challenges?
A Garden Party: Our biggest challenge is the nature of busy seasons versus slow seasons. It's hard to not panic that we won't get everything done in our busy season, that we won't have enough staff, enough time, or do it fast enough. And then when it's slow, are we overstaffed? Are we spending too much? It's an ebb and flow that we have to work on accepting.
Chapel Designers: Tell us about your staff. How many do you employ? What are their responsibilities? How do you find and keep employees?
A Garden Party: Besides Mary and Dawn, there are 6 year round staff members. Torey is our head designer - while we are in the office during the week, Torey makes the daily designs, processes flowers, and is our right hand man when we are on the bench designing weddings. She is Dawn's sister-in-law, and an invaluable member of the team. Next, we have a shop manager, Christine, Dawn's best friend. Christine works out the timelines for each event, including set-up, delivery and breakdown. She goes over our supply inventory and keeps updated with what we need to order or replace. She is also in charge of the newer staff members, delegating what needs to be cleaned for events and packing the vehicles. Cristina, Mary's sister-in-law, is our Administrative Assistant. She writes our blog, does our invoices, estimates, updates proposals from brides, office accounting, marketing, web maintenance etc. Cristina also does all of our custom signage and personalized artwork. Ashley is our newest year-round staff member, and she does it all! Her first week with us she laid a brick walkway, and the surprises she's had up her sleeve haven't stopped. She is a hard worker and an important part in wedding set ups, midnight breakdowns and sympathy work designs. Sandy is another part time designer we’ve recently added that has blessed us with her talented fingers. Last but certainly not least, our mother, Melanie Colson, assists the team every Friday in the studio and on the weekends with set ups. She folds a mean napkin and boasts mad bout skills. We have struck gold in that our employees are all associated as family and close friends and that it works so well for us. We have many people who apply to work with us, and I think they glamorize the job and most don't understand how much physical labor and sweat is involved, or the amount of strategy that is used in design. We have trialed applicants and can always guage who clicks or who isn't quite the right fit. For the employees we have now, it was important to see individually what each person offers and taking advantage of their strengths - for example, Cristina may not be a floral designer, but she is still essential to keep us running smoothly.
Chapel Designers: What are your dreams for the future of A Garden Party?
A Garden Party: Our dreams for the future would be to expand our cutting gardens and our knowledge as growers. This is not only to save money, but for the convenience of always being able to fall back on what we have right in our backyards. We love putting that piece of ourselves into arrangements, and supporting the Slow Flowers movement has been very important to us. We are also working on limiting the types of events we work on. We've set budget minimums for weddings and will no longer book more than 3 events in a day. We've been pickier about our clients, too, and hope that our business will continue to attract those who love flowers as much as we do. We're hoping this means that our future holds beautiful, quality events that have us walking away inspired instead of just accepting whomever gets a deposit in first.
Chapel Designers: Tell us about your families. How do you balance being mothers/wives with being entrepreneurs?
A Garden Party: Balance is a tricky word. I think it's important to note that nobody can "have it all," or at least not all at once. I think that there will always be give and take. We only schedule meetings two nights a week, one night for Mary to work late and one night for Dawn. During the busy season, we don't get all the quality time that we want with our husbands and children, and it's hard, but it's so that we can be happy. We like the independence, the creativity, and the fact that we are setting good examples as hard-working businesswomen for our children. Our husbands are both big helps in our company as well - they have both been on numerous setups, breakdowns and involved in behind-the-scenes construction for our large-scale designs (including a floral elephant frame and a 10 ft cross!). Our husbands and parents are also a huge part of raising our kids - getting them off the bus or home from school or even as childcare providers. The support from our family means everything. Our slower season means that we take a break from the office work - days are shortened to end at 4pm - and we get to do more things with our children. This is vacation time with our families when we can do way more extracurricular activities together.
Chapel Designers: What have you learned about business ownership and/or floral design that you wish you'd known when you started your business?
A Garden Party: What we've learned concerning the business ownership aspect would be the importance of knowing and keeping track of every dollar. Setting a budget helps us stay firm in our quotes, because we have mapped out the profit margins that will allow us to pay for the flowers, delivery fees and labor that will go into setting up an event. It may sound basic, but knowing that there is a minimum amount that we have to make to make sure that we can pay our staff and put food on the table gives us a lot more confidence in our charging and prices.
Chapel Designers: How has your Chapel Designers membership affected your business experience? Your personal life?
A Garden Party: Becoming Chapel Designers was a turning point for our business. The network has shown us that anything we can dream up in our floral design is possible since we have such an incredible resource of fellow florists. It has taken our work to a whole new level of quality. We've also been able to hire fellow Chapel Designers as freelancers with full confidence in their style and capability. On a more personal note, sometimes all you need is to vent, or to hear similar client horror stories to be able to laugh about some ridiculous scenarios instead of crying over petty complaints - or to be given the reality check when we feel wronged but the client was justified. Overall, it's nice that when we feel crazy or burnt out to know that we're not alone.
Chapel Designers: Can you share a little about your special 10 Year Anniversary Party?
A Garden Party: Our 10 Year Anniversary Party was a huge success. Not necessarily because of the amount of people that came out, but because of the quality of relationships we had with each one. The fact that Holly Chapple came and supported us with fellow Chapel Designers meant so much. There were people from all walks of our 10 year history, all bringing back certain memories and cherished moments of growth. The gestures made by fellow vendors was also SO incredible. Our wedding photographer friends came to take photos, DV Flora donated a ton of product for us to design with, a wedding planner donated her services to keep us organized, Let's Do Linens donated linens to decorate with, and another wedding coordinator sent her Party Host Helpers to serve food and help with set up. It really touched us to see how many people care about us and want to see us succeed.
Over the years, we've come to greatly appreciate the significance and impact each designer's career path and personal journey make on the Chapel Designer organization as a whole. Stories of struggles, accomplishments, heartache and growth weave layers of richness into the Chapel Designer experience. Today we want to introduce one of those designers to you and share part of her story. Tasha Frye, owner of L'Arrangement (Denver, Colorado), joined the Chapel Designers in 2015 and has been steadily growing and evolving since we first met her in NYC. Although her growth and artistry are inspiring, it's her kindness that we cherish most.
TASHA: "It really was meant to be that I came across a mention for the Chapel Designers NYC 2015 Conference just 2 weeks before the event. I had never heard of Chapel Designers and inadvertently saw a post from another designer's Instagram feed mentioning the upcoming NYC event. Within hours of investigating further through the website and starting the registration process to see if I could read more information about the workshop and group, I exited out of the PayPal link without completing registration by submitting payment and went to bed. The next morning, Evan Chapple had left me a voicemail stating that he had noticed that I had tried to register but that the payment did not finish. He wanted to know if I had experienced any difficulty with the PayPal system and wanted to hold a space open for me if I still wanted to come as there were only 2 spots left. I sat on it for most of the day as I didn't know and got busy with other things. At the persistence of my daughter, I called Evan back. He spent over 20 minutes on the phone with me answering all my questions about Chapel Designers and the benefits of becoming a member. There was only one spot left when I called him back. I told him I wanted the spot and finished up with PayPal as soon as I got off the phone with him. Within minutes, I noticed the "sold out" message was posted on Instagram. I had no idea what to expect in NYC. It was an amazing few days of information and experience that I was grateful for."
"However, it wasn't until I returned home and continued on that the true value of being a part of this incredible group has manifested itself to me as I read over the FB posts and messages. The amount of teamwork, sharing, sourcing and encouragement to one another has been amazing to witness and has provided the confidence of being able to tackle new projects and stretch further. I really didn't know where I wanted to take my designing or if I wanted to keep my retail store. I still don't have the answers to everything but who ever does? There are many seasons for all of us in this life and they continue to change and evolve over time. Yet, I have done things I never imagined I would or even knew how to do, because of becoming a Chapel Designer. Recently, after seeing Kristy Rice's Instagram post seeking a floral designer for a France shoot...I actually emailed her with photos of some of my recent work after being personally recommended by my calligrapher friend. I would have never had the confidence before Chapel Designers. I knew I was part of a community that could provide answers if I had questions. Which is exactly where I turned after Kristy Rice contacted me and offered me the opportunity which also includes making a floral capelet for this shoot. Without the network within Chapel Designers, these opportunities and experiences would not have been mine, nor did I ever consider them for me. When Kristy Rice posted on Instagram the team she had assembled for this shoot, I smiled when I saw the photo she used for me. It was a photo she had taken off my Instagram feed that was taken at CDNYC2015 of the bouquet I had made and was photographed by Lauren Carnes. It couldn't have been more fitting symbolically as it is because of that very CDNYC2015 experience, that I get ready to board a plane to Paris on Friday and be part of another great opportunity. Thank you Holly, for creating this incredible forum of friendship, encouragement, education and growth which has opened doors and stretched horizons."
Wondering what happened when Tasha stepped off that plane in Paris? She went to work and made some magic...
Member Name: Tina Riddell
Business Name: Living Fresh Flower Studio & School | Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Area Serviced: Waterloo area, Toronto and all parts of Ontario. Available for travel world-wide.
Business Hours: Monday to Friday 10:00am to 6:00pm, Saturday 10:00am to 3:00pm
Years in business: 8
Services Provided: Wedding & Event Flowers, Daily Deliveries, Subscription Service, Special Occasion Flowers (Birthday, Anniversary, etc.), Sympathy/Funeral Arrangements, Retail Showroom, Prop Rental, Event & Wedding Creative Direction & Design, Floral Design Classes & Workshops, Styling & Creative for Photo Shoots & Media Projects
How long have you been a Chapel Designer? Since 2014
Where did you become a Chapel Designer? New York City
How has your membership in the Chapel Designers organization affected your business? Being a Chapel Designer has given me support and resources to move my business to a new level and attract the right clients. It has allowed me to build a network of floral friends who are supportive, encouraging and advocates for my business. At times this is a tough business and it is wonderful to have a supportive group of like minded individuals who understand how demanding and stressful our world can be at times.
What do you enjoy most about being a Chapel Designer? I love how supportive and sharing every single Chapel Designer is. If there is ever a doubt as to how to create or price an installation/arrangement or how to deal with any aspects of business, there is always someone available to answer a question or share their past experiences. It is also wonderful to be able to celebrate our craft while encouraging, supporting and assisting my peers.
We're honored and grateful to have Tina Riddell serving as our Canada CD Ambassador.
Holly Chapple founded The Chapel Designers in 2010 and over the past six years new members have joined from around the world. While our organization began at a small gathering in New York City, we've now hosted workshops and conferences across the United States and abroad. Stacy K Ercan, of Stacy K Floral in Rochester, NY, joined us in 2013, and the phenomenal story of her first year with the Chapel Designers has inspired us to begin telling you more about the individual stories of our designers. The floral industry is one of constant chaos, but it’s also one of constant reward. Wedding and floral work challenges us as business owners, but each one of us seems to be pulled into this industry for a reason. The artistic expression of floral design partnered with the satisfaction of making a client's day are the reasons most of us are drawn in to this industry. Here are some thoughts Stacy shared with us back in 2013:
“Becoming a Chapel Designer changed the way I do business and in some regards my life. The week I left for my first event last year I was in such a negative place in my career and quite frankly didn’t even know it. I was so caught up with everything my competition was doing and being snarky and unsupportive. I also lived with a constant guilt for having worked at a local florist before branching off and creating my own company. This then stemmed a fear my team could do that to me any day. This handicapped me. I didn’t share, teach, or really entrust those I hired to help me. On a specific day of design at the event Holly herself came over to me and said something in regards to “this is a lesson you needed to see. 60 some designers, same recipe, and not a single bouquet even similar. This is the beauty of what we are doing.” At that moment I realized two things: one I found my new home and floral family and would never want to leave, and two, I was limiting myself, my team, and my store's potential. I realized my store could be next to my old bosses, but they weren’t me and nothing I do is similar to them. From that exciting moment on I vowed to teach anyone who would listen, love myself for spreading my wings and taking a chance, and never say a negative word about my competition again. If I can’t say something kind, I don’t let it pass my lips because it just brings toxins into my team environment. 2013 has been the BEST most successful and least stressful year yet. I love the Chapel Designer family and I am honored to be a member and feel with them by my side I can achieve any career goal I can dream up!!! Thank you Holly for planting a seed and nurturing it as it grows."
As you can see from the passion expressed above, we just had to show you more about Stacy and her work in this industry! As she said, the Chapel Designers helped her position her business for growth by changing her mindset, but it was her motivation, love of her work, and amazing attitude with her employees and industry peers that made Stacy K Floral into what it is today.
Recently, we asked Stacy how her business has grown, changed, and adapted since it was founded. Here's what she said:
“I started my journey into the floral world in high school working at a landscape center. I enjoyed the industry so much I decided to attend Alfred State College and get a degree in the floriculture merchandising program. I moved to Rochester to take a position as a florist, and because I loved the job so much I ventured back to school nights to get my business administration degree with a focus in marketing from Brockport University. My first independent wedding was one of my best friend’s weddings. At that event several guests approached me and asked why I worked for someone... I should be doing this myself. With the push of family and friends, in 2005 Stacy K Floral was created, and I started taking weddings and events, each year bookings doubled from the year prior. I took a slow and safe journey to get here but I learned so much along the way. Upon completing my degree, I was creating wedding and event florals out of my apartment studio. While my husband and I were dating we were fortunate enough to buy our first home with a very big garage... that was the next studio with a home based office for consults. In 2010 we decided to take the plunge and open our 1600 square foot studio on Park Avenue and start delivering floral daily. Stacy K Floral remained in this space for 6 years and as of June 2016 we are moving in to a new 2500 square foot location on Russell Street in Rochester where we are expanding our retail offerings to include new giftware lines, home furnishings, everlasting, and gourmet honey.”
Stacy’s story of development as an amazing business owner and florist is truly motivating, and a perfect example of how special our family of Chapel Designers has become. There is no conventional route in this industry—each Chapel Designer has taken a unique path to get where they are today. Some started out in other jobs, some have loved floral design since day one, and some have worked at different shops before starting their own. The similarity in each CD’s path is the journey itself toward a future of creating and contributing to the industry they love.
Each Chapel Designer focuses on different elements of the floral industry. Stacy shared with us what inventory she keeps, what lessons she has learned, and what her biggest challenges have been.
On Inventory: “We have grown in to offering daily floral delivery, weddings and events, event design, plant-scaping, everlasting design, and service many weekly and monthly corporate accounts. In retail we offer online retail which will be expanding to nation wide in 2017 (hopefully) and carry a unique selection of gifts and home decor items. In 2016 Stacy K Floral store manager Danielle and I are launching our new company Beehaviour, a subscription beekeeping company with a luxury honey line.”
On what she has learned: “To be grateful, humble, and trust in the universe. I used to stress about every little decision and every point of growth to the point I would make myself sick. I now know to just let it happen, and be the best leader I can be along the way and everything seems to fall in to place.”
On her biggest challenges in this field: “Learning how to let go. You can't build a brand all by yourself. I have a great team but it took me a long time to let go of the control freak side of me and get out of my own way. I was the only thing between this company’s success because I was bottle necking my team and their capabilities. I still have my moments but I try to call those moments out when they are happening and use them as a point of learning...
... Balance would probably be the second biggest challenge. I know I will never get it perfect but I do take steps with scheduling tricks, no laptop at home, do not disturb settings on the phone. All little adjustments to make sure I give my life and family the time away from work that is deserved.”
When Stacy talks about what has given her the strength to continue in this industry, her team is clearly instrumental. Stacy says that she would be nowhere without her staff—some started out as clients and eventually became valuable members of her team. She has amazing artists, designers, farmers, and friends all working with her. She is forever grateful to her team. She works incredibly hard to make sure her team is happy, and they work extremely hard to make sure the business thrives. She hopes the future with her team and her new location will help her newest dreams flourish. Stacy also notes that without her supportive family, her business never would have become what it is today. One of her greatest priorities is scheduling time with her family, even when her schedule is hectic.
Stacy’s business development, work with her team, passion for the art, flowers, weddings, and clients are the essence of what it means to be a Chapel Designer. We're honored to have a designer and business woman of Stacy's caliber in the CD family. When asked how the Chapel Designers organization has changed and helped her since her initial musings in 2013, Stacy replied:
“Through all of this, the Chapel Designers helped me know I was not alone and that I could just sell my crazy ideas and rely on them to help me figure out how to execute it later. Knowing that there were a few hundred designers to call on for advice has made all the difference for me, as well as learning I am one of a kind when it comes to design from the fearless leader, Holly herself.”
Almost 24 years ago, my mother began Holly Heider Chapple Flowers, LTD. She and her four younger sisters grew up in a rural area, with a mother who was passionate about horseback riding and a father who flourished at growing in the fields. Holly had the classic farm life raising—and while some of her sisters connected more with the horsey side of the rural life, my mother was always passionate about the flowers. My grandfather was an amazing farmer; he grew produce and took care of livestock, had several different nurseries and a quaint farmers market in Lucketts where he had a green house, sold baked goods, produce, and fresh eggs. It was when my mother helped him at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Show for the first time making fresh bouquets that she realized her calling. Her first bride was a dear friend of ours in Lucketts, and from there she has grown into one of the most amazing florists in the world (in the biased opinion of her daughter).
In 2010 she had the idea to meet with florists like her, and she now goes around the United States and around the world teaching and sharing with others. My mother is easily one of the most optimistic people I know. She constantly has a smile on her face, devotes all of her time to making her children, her husband, her friends and her brides happier, and constantly innovates ways to change the industry. Somehow my mother is able to manage her Chapple life and her Chapel Designers life, and it absolutely astounds me. While there are only 24 hours in a day, considering how much my mother accomplishes, I could swear there are more.
There certainly is not a typical day in the Chapple house, and especially not so since we have bought Hope Flower Farm. It would be impossible for me to summarize just one day of my mother’s life, but I can give you my best shot. We’ll start with weekdays… that might be the approach. My mom usually wakes up between 6 and 6:30 in the morning. She packs the lunches for each of my siblings as they prepare to go to school, and my father and she get them all on the bus. By this point, of course, she’s had her coffee once or twice—if you know my mother, you know she needs her coffee. After getting the kids dressed and ready, she prepares herself for the day. She straps on her signature cowboy boots and gets to work. Weekdays are typically computer days. A lot of people don’t realize that while my mother is a creative spirit, running her business and the Chapel Designers involves a lot of computer time. Throughout the course of a day, she’s on the phone with fellow Chapel Designers, planners, brides, photographers, etc. She’s planning weddings, future CD conferences, photo shoots, and what to grow at Hope. Usually my father spends the days at Hope, tilling, growing, and preparing our farm for the summer.
During an average weekday, my mother is on the phone for a total of several hours. She plans out everything she does—our family calendar is full up to a year and a half in advance. She stays busy working on contracts, gathering images from photographers, working on inventory, ordering flowers for the next wedding or the next CD conference, teaching workshops and finding new friends and vendors all over the world. My siblings and I always joke that we can’t go anywhere without my mother knowing someone—that’s because my mother spends a lot of her time keeping up with her friends, her brides, her fellow vendors, and also meeting new ones. While weekdays are a lot of correspondence and computer work, weekends are very, very different.
Depending on the magnitude of the event, designing can start on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. Designers begin by processing the flowers, and my mother has pre-made “recipes” for how each design should go. The one exception to the recipe is that if my mother doesn’t love the way a design looks, she will find something else to make it pop (this is the beauty of having a flower farm). Designs are being created, schedules are being mapped for deliveries, and cargo vans are filled with gas. While we have some weekends where we have one wedding, and some weekends where we have seven, I would say we average three or four a week. My mother makes each bridal bouquet with that beautiful “Hollyish” flair, and we start packing up. The designers, my parents, and my siblings and I pack things into the vans as we get ready for a big wedding day. Whether we’re in Maryland, Virginia, or DC, the weddings can take several hours to prepare. Different things like cake flowers, arbors, or chuppahs take different amounts of time to create on-site. Regardless of the amount of time required, we always strive for a phenomenal finished product.
As I have said, there is no typical day for my mother. Any free time she has is spent with her children and my father. We spend days playing at Hope, going hiking, or playing board games. Some days she prepares for Chapel Designer conferences, other times she is delivering weddings. Some days she spends locked onto her computer, other times she is running around creating the perfect photo shoot. The most important thing about a typical day with my mother is that it is spent making someone else’s day better. She and my father work every day to make sure their children, their brides, and their students are happy and that they have something to show for their incredibly hard work.
Six years ago, the Chapel Designers organization began. A simple idea that struck the founder’s mind, a meet-up of florists and wedding professionals in New York City, has grown and become an international conference and hub of floral professionals worldwide. As Holly and Evan Chapple gear up to fly to London for the Chapel Designers London 2016 Conference, we have been looking back on where we have been, and forward at where we are headed.
While this conference started in New York, we have visited a myriad of different places. From California to Canada, Australia to our new farm in Waterford, Virginia, Chapel Designers meet all over to grow and learn and teach one another. This year, Holly and Evan are going to London for the second time, and it is because of that event that we have been privileged to meet designers from all over the United Kingdom. As we spread and as we flourish, it is an honor to look back on reviews of experiences from our Chapel Designers as they first began. Here are a couple we received after the first CD London Conference last year.
"Warning ⚠: This conference can seriously affect your business. At first I wondered if I could afford to attend The Chapel Designers conference 2015, now 8 months later the investment has dramatically taken my business to another level. The combination of a room full of passionate flower folk, expert demonstrators, the heart of Holly Chapple and the abundance of yummy blooms made the atmosphere electric."
- Jil Peterson, The Stables Flower Co.
"It’s difficult to articulate what truly goes on at a Chapel Designers conference. I am not given to over-blown statements of emotion or sentimentality but the experience of CDLDN2015 blew my mind. Absolutely. I went in search of inspiration and guidance and walked away days later with something far, far greater. I have always known the kind of designer I wanted to be and the kind of aesthetic I wanted to uphold in my work. I wasn’t stuck to find my place and I wasn’t looking for answers. Yet at Chapel Designers, you forget what you think you know. Instead you open yourself up to one of the most incredible learning experiences of your life. You are surrounded by designers you do not know; you’ve never met them before, but you somehow know that they are YOUR people. It’s the most inclusive, engaging, inspirational and wonderful experience and you throw yourself in wholeheartedly and you gain huge returns. The support and understanding is fundamental to the whole experience and that does not end with the conference. In fact after the conference the CD forum means you get to meet your international CD sisters and brothers and the rules of openness and honestly there are the same. Chapel Designers are support, growth, honesty and hope and in this environment, creativity cannot help but run wild and from this, you and your business will reap huge rewards both in terms of creative and financial fulfillment."
-Beth Forbes-Simpson, Forbesfield Custom Floral Design & Styling
Thanks to Modern Vintage Weddings for the amazing photos!
Pantone recently chose two colors for the first time as the Color of the Year for 2016. Rose Quartz and Serenity were chosen for the balance created between the warmer tone of Rose Quartz and the cooler tone of Serenity. Rose Quartz has been prevalent in the work of Chapel Designers during 2015 and we thought it might be fun to take a look back at how it's been incorporated into our work this year. Enjoy!
Member Name: Janelle "Janie" Gerestein
Business Name: Flowers by Janie | Calgary, Alberta (CANADA)
Area Serviced: Calgary, Southern Alberta and the Canadian Rocky Mountains
Business Hours: By Appointment Only
Years in business: 4
Services Provided: Wedding & Event Flowers, Special Occasion Flowers (Birthday, Anniversary, etc.), Event Delivery/Set Up/Take Down, Vase & Pedestal Rental
How long have you been a Chapel Designer? Since April 2015
Where did you become a Chapel Designer? London, UK
How has your membership in the Chapel Designers organization affected your business? It has helped me grow as a designer through the hands-on courses and the online forum where we can share tips & tricks of the trade with other Chapel Designers. As a company we have been able to expand and take on larger weddings because of the additional skills learned.
What do you enjoy most about being a Chapel Designer? The ability to share openly with other floral designers and to learn from each other. I love being a part of the Chapel Designers family.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future of your business? To keep being challenged with larger and more elaborate designs for weddings and events that really showcase our creativity and design.
For The Chapel Designers, the months leading up to a wedding are filled with planning, ordering, following up with vendors, communicating with the bridal party and gracefully navigating plan changes. Then comes the hours of physical labor...unloading and conditioning flowers, designing bouquets, building mechanics for suspended designs and chuppahs, wrapping boutonnieres, loading the vans, driving oh-so-carefully and, finally, setting up at the wedding venue. Often near the point of exhaustion, we rely on profound passion to propel us....
...toward The Moment. The moment a bride sees her flowers for the first time. The moment that overrides the exhaustion, reminds us of the unshakable love we have for our work and leaves us anticipating the next wedding.