This summer I had the divine privilege of attending a floral workshop in Skagit Valley, Washington at the Floret Flower Farm. This experience was truly a dream, an experience that I cannot adequately put into words, and I'm delighted to bring what I learned home to White Fig. Part of the flower business for me is taking time each year to attend a workshop to better my craft, gain new knowledge, and refresh my love and passion for floral design. This year's experience has accomplished and far exceeded each of those hopes.
Flower Farmers and Designers came from all over the world--places such as Australia, Canada, Colorado and New York--to attend and to instruct this workshop. The farming portion of the workshop took place on the Floret Flower Farm, run by Erin Benzakein, where we toured the farm property and learned about the ins and outs of flower farming. The design portion of the workshop took place inside of a neighboring Barn, designed and set for us in the most organically beautiful way. Erin's openness and willingness to share her life and knowledge with the twenty-five of us was both informational and inspiring. This was an intensive three-day workshop in which we learned, collaborated, and expanded our knowledge of and creativity with flowers.
When we first walked into the barn, I was absolutely overwhelmed with emotion. The contrast of the dark barn and the sunlight cascading in through its windows and cracks set the tone for us all to marvel at the beauty of nature in its purest form. The focal point of the barn was, of course, the buckets upon buckets of gorgeous flowers just saturating the room. Roses, peonies, poppies, irises, anemones, delphiniums, and honeysuckle were among the flowers creating this atmosphere of appreciation and wonder.
As shown above, we were all seated in a circle where Erin welcomed us all and taught us a bit about her farm. She then asked each of us to introduce ourselves, and when it came to me, I was immediately overcome with emotion. Embarrassed by my unexpected tears but authentic in my emotion, I began explaining to them how much of a treat this experience had already been for me. I told them that before this workshop, I was talking to my twenty-eight year old daughter who had just returned from a work-sponsored "Inspiration Vacation" in India, and as she told me about her trip, I found myself feeling bitter that she got to do something like that at such a young age. It was the moment I walked into this barn that I realized what this trip was for me--pure inspiration, and a beautiful vacation. It was my dream-come-true, Inspiration Vacation.
For me, White Fig Designs is so much more than a flower shop. It is about relationship, it is about expressiveness, and it is about organic authenticity. That is why taking time each year to get away and learn is a priority, taking workshops from designers like Francoise Weeks and Brooklyn's Little Flower School. White Fig is dedicated to staying educated, creative and current to produce beautiful and elegant arrangements to the best of our ability.
As Erin told her business story throughout the workshop, I felt a deep connection to her journey. She spoke of her years of searching for her "niche," knowing that she had always had a burning desire to do something "big." As she told us about her days trying to start a candle business and various other creative avenues, I reminisced on my feelings as a mother of two knowing that I had a deep need and desire to birth something new, something big. That is why I opened White Fig.
From the first night, I knew that I was surrounded by kindred spirits. We hear girls talk about their "tribe," and I knew in this short time that these women truly are just that--my tribe.
We all share the same passion for the same thing.
This process has given me a new found commitment to trying to buy local whenever I can, rather than buying imported flowers, and therefore leaving a smaller footprint on the world that we live in. This workshop taught me to do my best to support local farmers and help enhance their business.
Both indoors and out, this trip was absolutely heavenly. I still feel overwhelmed with emotion as I look back on these three perfect days.
An exciting experience in the workshop came when we were all given a variety of flowers, and the same vessel to create an arrangement in. As exciting as it was, there was also an element of challenge as I knew that there were dozens of talented, successful floral designers there doing the same thing I was. What I quickly learned was that it was not actually challenging at all--because everyone was so incredibly supportive and encouraging with one another. The abundance of flowers that we had to choose from was incredible. Creating various projects together also taught me a lot about building a team that is compatible with one another, everyone bringing traits that complement one another rather than compete. Below are some arrangements we created!
The last night concluded with a beautifully set, professionally cooked meal for all of the attendees. That day was spent creating garden arrangements for the tables and styling this beautiful archway (below) leading to our seats. I cannot say enough how incredible this experience was for me, how refreshing it was for my creativity, or how motivating it was for my business.
After experiencing this workshop, I truly believe that everyone deserves to have and should go on an Inspiration Vacation to take time to reignite your passions and refuel yourselves to come home and accomplish your dreams.
All photos by Chris Benzakein.