Updated: Jan 11, 2019
NOTE: REPOST FROM PREVIOUS WEBSITE
Let's start off with a fun fact. I went to school to be a Dental Assistant and happily did that for 17 years. I worked with Dentists that specialized in the care of children and young adults. I was responsible for teaching the patients and their parents the proper way to look after their teeth along with assisting the dentist in all sorts of procedures. So then how on earth does one go from cleaning teeth and filling cavities to designing bridal bouquets and floral arrangements for life's most important occasions?
The seed to becoming a florist was planted in 1996 when I lived in Okotoks Alberta. I had left the dental field for a brief time because I had given birth to my first son in the summer of 1995. I was looking for a part time job and I happened to walk into a flower shop that was looking for someone part time. Even though I didn't have any formal floral training, they took a chance and hired me. In the previous post I mentioned that I grew up around gardens and flowers and felt so comfortable with the flowers that learning to design with them came fairly easy. The manager was a great inspiration to me, she nurtured my creative side, encouraged me to step outside the box, and trust in myself and my abilities. Unknowingly to me she planted the seeds of maybe some day.... in my mind, but alas it was a short lived floral career. Being married to someone in the Military means you never stay in one spot for too long, so in 1997 we moved to Morinville.
Fast forward to the summer of 2012. I was president of the Morinville Centennial Community Gardens and flip flopping between different jobs, nothing really fed my passion. I had left the dental field and was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had two boys now and I was a stay at home mom, I hadn't created The Wheelbarrow Gardener yet, so the Community Garden was now my job and the whole reason all of this has come to fruition.
I met with a local designer about some ideas I had for the community gardens, his family owned a local tree nursery and garden centre and I was hoping to get them on board with becoming a sponsor for the garden. This meeting lead to additional conversations and I ended up working for him and his family. Initially I worked at the garden centre helping out there which was a perfect fit for the Organic Master Gardener course I was taking. Later that summer when things slowed down at the garden centre I spent more time working for the designer. He had his own design company and had just bought a flower shop so there was a lot to do and learn.
For the better part of the next 4 years I was immersed in the world of design. Learning through practical hands on experience , which is in my opinion better than any education I could have received at a school. I was working at building my own business The Wheelbarrow Gardener, but I enjoyed this other side of the design coin, it was different and it fed my passion for creating like the gardening did, but in a different way. It was exciting to learn how flowers and plants could be manipulated to take on a whole different form than in their natural state. I learned how flowers designed into a beautiful creation could evoke strong emotions, and memories for people. I experience how good design can open up opportunities to meet people and foster memorable experiences for them. In those 4 years I learned so much, but most importantly I learned that you can't be everything to everyone, and that good things sometimes have to come to and end, not for any other reason than the universe has other plans.
Photo Carla Lehman Photography
In 2016 I was at the point where I felt that it was time for me to stretch my own entrepreneurial wings. I was already contemplating moving my business, The Wheelbarrow Gardener which had been steadily growing to a brick and mortar building, but I knew that with it being a seasonal company that it would be difficult to bring in enough revenue to make a go of it. It wasn't until I walked into our current space in St. Albert that it hit me that I needed to combine my two passions. My passion for creating beautiful and practical garden spaces and my newly acquired passion for creating art with the blooms #fromseedtovase. Two different revenue streams although both heavily focused during the summer months meant I could move out of the garage and into this fantastic space that also lent itself to another revenue stream if I played my cards right, but I'll leave that for another blog. NOTE:I decided that I needed some more formal training just to tighten up my skills set, I didn't want to go into this endeavour without being prepared so I went to Santa Barbara and took some design courses from 4 of the top USA and Canadian floral designers. It was great to see how others get to the same final result but by using different techniques, and how interesting it was to talk to florists about our concerns regarding the floral and wedding industry and how we can all work together to bring back the art of floral design.
I spent some time deciding if I should change the name. I really didn't want to rebrand as The Wheelbarrow Gardener was getting well known, and to start over again just seemed like a step backward, but how or why would anyone especially brides want to get their flowers from The Wheelbarrow Gardener? It didn't seem like the right fit. It wasn't horrible it just felt like a bit of a stretch especially if they didn't know my company structure. I't was an afternoon conversation with a dear friend within the floral industry, that after we had explored so many different possible ways to alter the name to better reflect who I would be serving, that she said matter of fact. Why don't you just call the floral side of your business The Wheelbarrow Florist? Of course, It was perfect!! It was just the right name, it had the right feel, I knew that I wanted to serve clients looking for a style that reflected the beautiful offerings of the garden, the blend of petal and leaf, the uninhibited shape and growth of natures product. Clients that would enjoy the simple style of what grows outside in all the gardens tended by all the gardeners in all the countries around the world artfully designed into a vase on their table or a bouquet in their hands. So began The Wheelbarrow Florist.
We have been in our space for a year now and we are constantly pushing our boundaries beyond the comfort zone. I'm blessed with an incredibly talented staff that bring a world of experiences to our designs and now that we've had a year to get our feet wet, iron out some kinks and set some goals, watch out cause we've got some growing and some designing to do.
Photos Darwin Mulligan Photography