As summer transitions into autumn, we’re highlighting one of our favorite parts of fall, the changing leaves, and landscape. We’ve just debuted our stunning Fall Wreath workshop and to celebrate we went behind the scenes with Christiana Perry, a West Coast-based florist and owner of Perry Florals. Christiana who helped develop and is teaching our wreath-making class took the time to chat with us about her florist background, favorite wreath-making ingredients, and finding joy in temporary beauty.

What got you interested in floral design?

pink and orange wedding bouquetI started working with flowers when I worked for my sister. She was a florist and I worked for her all throughout high school and college, and I really, really enjoyed it but didn’t know it would play into my future career. 

Eventually, moving out to California, I realized that I wanted to stay in the field of flowers and did on-demand floral delivery for a startup. I worked with farm partners to source the product that we used in our bouquets. 

I’ve done work in lots of different areas of the floral industry, figured out which niche I really enjoy, which is designing, and rolled with that. Over time I started working on weekends doing friends’ weddings, and events and then eventually started getting busier and busier to the point where I quit my job and started my own business.

When did you officially start your own business?

The pandemic kind of messes with time and all that but I started it four years ago. I was reaching a precipice before COVID where I was like, “Whoa, super busy” and then COVID happened and I was like “Oh, what are we gonna do.” I had to pivot some things but that’s where remote classes filled in the empty spaces and events are finally picking back up so it’s feeling good.

What type of in-person work did you do during covid?

During COVID, I found that a lot of people were looking for beauty in their homes. Before the pandemic, I did the one-off delivery here and there but during COVID there was an influx of people reaching out being like “Can I get flowers for my home? Do you do weekly delivery?” Where before I mostly did weekly deliveries for corporates it turned into regular people wanting beauty in their own home every day, which was actually really nice to see. 

People just really clung to the small happy things that we could find and flowers are one of those things that truly just bring joy.

What does a typical day look like for you, if there is a typical day?

christiana in her floral studioWeek by week it’s a little different. If it’s a week where I have an event (events are typically on the weekends) I pick up my flowers on a Thursday, do a lot of processing, which is prepping fresh cuts, moving leaves, or putting things in buckets. Then on Friday I make sample arrangements and do mechanics, which is for centerpieces: adding chicken wire, taping each base, and feeling everything with water.

Today, I’ll figure out if I’m low on anything, tomorrow I’ll fill in and then Saturday is finishing the design for this weekend. Finally, there’s install on Sunday. But every weekend is different. I typically use the beginning of the week for my admin stuff,  Mondays/Tuesdays and then Wednesday I start to prep.

There’s a lot of work in communication with people that I don’t have a job with another year, which is interesting, you have to have that long-term foresight. For example the following weekend I have two weddings that have both been planned for over two years because of COVID. The design has changed twice now because your mood changes and what you are drawn to changes over the course of a year. It’s a lot of preliminary work to lay the path for the next project so it’s exciting to actually prep and execute a wedding.

Do you mostly do weddings or is it kind of a mix of events?

It’s such a mix. It’s wedding season right now, which is why that feels a little busier. But I do a lot of pop-ups, on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day I like to offer bouquets for sale at stores or coffee shops. I also do a lot of lessons in-person and virtual and I do some one-off deliveries. 

Once again it’s so seasonal so when the holidays roll around,  companies like holiday installs. So sometimes what I do ventures into styling or home decor. And it’s not always fresh floral but also plant sourcing. I kind of dabble in anything in the realm or world of flora.

That sounds like you’re very busy.

Yeah, it’s been fun and I think I work at a better pace when I’m busier.

What are your favorite materials to create a wreath from?

For fall, you can incorporate some nice preserved golden colors or certain eucalyptus and it’s just nice to get a little bit of autumn tonality. Foliage is one of my favorites and it’s so plentiful. The varieties are also so varied that you can really get a lot of texture and interest from that alone. But it’s always nice to add a pop of light to it and make the ingredients stand out.

Dried emothers day gold and white wreathlements are always nice because they last longer. I really like preserved flowers whether they’re dyed or in their natural form, but just adding some color to the wreath. In the fall design , we’re using Strawflower which is one of my favorites because it can hold its color even when it dries. I’m not opposed to the unnaturally dyed elements, but I think if you’re unnaturally dyed, not that I’m elements, but I think if you’re looking for something that’s a little bit more, elemental I would go for more of the naturally dried elements instead of preserved and colored.

Then I always like to add a different element whether it’s a ribbon where you’re just adding something that maybe isn’t floral but, gives it another pop of color or texture. 

Whether it’s the ribbon or jingle bells for a holiday which gives another element where you open the door and it makes a little sound, then your catching more senses than if you’re just making something beautiful. You’re making something that also sounds nice or gives a little feeling when you open the door. Thinking of past just what it looks like, but the feeling that it will provoke,

Also making sure we’re using ingredients that will last all season long. It might evolve as it fades in the sun or you might have some slight shedding but those are things that can be nice. I looked at my wreath from last year and all of the green foliage had completely turned bronze, it was like bleached by the sun, but I really really liked the way it looked. It’s kind of fun to look back “Oh this is from last year” and some elements I pulled out and I’m gonna reuse for a wreath this year. But other elements, I just threw away. And there’s also something beautiful about temporary beauty. Having something to keep forever and then realizing the parts that you might want to toss out.

That’s beautiful! I only have one more question, How would you incorporate plants or florals in other ways during the holidays?

I really love garlands and you can make garlands out of really any foliage, even flowers. I made this beautiful, baby’s breath garland last year for someone’s mantle. 

And I like a garland that starts fresh and dries well, which babies breath does do and it’s really an easy process of gathering a group of flowers, taking your wire, and almost like a giant flower crown, continuously twirling the wire around it to secure the long garland. I think those are really pretty and the process of making them is pretty therapeutic as 

orange and white floral arrangement

well. And that’s something you could make out of foraging from either a eucalyptus tree out back or I could forage some olive branches and make a garland for my house. 

I like plants for any season to fill my house, then for the winter adding the holiday elements. The garland would look pretty at any time and then start adding ornaments once December rolls around.

I love that you said making it is therapeutic because that’s something that we’ve been talking about a lot with our customers and internally is the process of making and as related to self-care and mental health.

Thanks again to Christiana for taking the time to speak with us! To dive into florals and create your own wreath with Christiana check out our wreath-making workshop here and see more of Perry Florals on Instagram!