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.