Meet the ever so talented, Amy Balsters of Amy Nicole Floral. This flower goddess acquired a green thumb from when she was young and hasn’t stopped ever since. Her floral bouquets and designs are more than just ‘arranged flowers’–each flower, tells a story and is perfectly fit to reflect the person and event at hand. Read Amy’s interview below and see why we chose her as our LA workshop florist!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you’ve got to where you are.
I am originally from Southern California but I relocated to New Mexico in my early twenties and spent a decade in the Southwest learning a slower pace of life. I have been married about 5 years and my husband is a military officer in the Air Force. We are currently stationed in Los Angeles and move every few years which allows me to stay challenged in my work. In terms of career, I am first a mom to a sweet toddler named Vaughn but I started working with flowers in 2001. I completed a two-year floral design and shop management program in 2003 and have worked in various capacities of the industry since then. Early on in my career, I was extremely fortunate to have studied under some incredible mentors and have worked as a lead designer for several retail stores and special event companies throughout Southern California. In 2012, I started my own business, Amy Nicole Floral, which focuses on special events, weddings and floral styling for campaigns and photoshoots.
When did you first identify your talent for florals? What is it about florals that interest you?
I have always had a deep fascination with nature and have vivid childhood memories of plants my mom had or things growing in the yard or on the side of the road. Flower shops also felt like really magical places to me as a kid. Growing up, there was a small shop up the street from my house that I would ride my bike to and wander around, secretly wishing they would ask me to jump in and help.
My mom was an artist and I got a lot of artistic ability from her. I had dabbled in all sorts of mediums in high school and in my first year of college, I was studying graphic design and marketing. I realized early on that I didn’t like sitting in front of a computer and that I really liked working more with my hands. The college I was attending had vocational floral design classes so during my first summer, I took a basic floral design class and was hooked. I started winning design competitions and receiving accolades early on for my work which fueled my passion for flowers even more. Designing has always felt really natural for me and it feels like the perfect collision of utilizing nature and getting to use design principles that I love.
What is a common misconception about florists?
One misconception about florists is the distinction between the DIY flower trend and professional floristry. Doing flowers professionally is a lot of work and takes a lot of different skills to do it well. It’s easy to romanticize working with flowers because lets face it, flowers are a dream but we have many challenges physically, financially, logistically, and creatively.
We work really long hours doing physically demanding work on sometimes tight budgets with demanding timelines and a perishable, often fickle product. We have to keep everything alive by understanding every flower’s unique care and handling, having solid construction and mechanics so designs hold together, and of course making sure designs are creative and on point for each client. Competition is also higher than ever which can drive prices down making it financially tough to stay in the game. All that to say, I still love it and I think you have to be really passionate or a little crazy to stay in, ha!
What are 3 things to keep in mind when making a floral arrangement?
I would always start with questions. Where is the arrangement going? What is it for? What do I want to it to feel like? These questions help me make choices about scale, container selection, color, texture, the overall shape, etc. From there, I would consider what is seasonally available first in choosing flowers!
Depending on what I’m making, I always start with shape/composition. I build essentially an outline with my larger, taller materials and then work backwards towards the vase as I go. My goal is to make everything look effortless by following the shape and natural elements of the products I’m working with and always consider the importance of color and its power to make or break an arrangement.
It's easy to romanticize flowers, but florists face challenges physically, financially, logistically, and creatively.
How are floral arrangements and floral displays different? Which is your favorite?
A floral arrangement is an individual free-standing design typically in a container or vase. A floral display or installation can be a combination of arrangements or a large scale design that could be hanging, on a wall, or on the ground. I think both arrangements and installations have unique challenges but I do prefer to make larger arrangements and larger floral installations. When working on a larger scale, it provides a really cool opportunity for creative expression and unique problem solving.
How do you decide which flowers match which events?
When I sit down to build a concept, proposal, flower order, etc., I always first look to the seasons. I prefer to use what is seasonal as the flowers are the freshest and typically at their peak. From there, I go back to the questions I listed in number 4 and answer those for myself. I will typically place an order for what I have in mind but I always leave room in the budget to buy really special things I find at the market or at a nursery that will incorporate well into the design. The flexibility I leave myself tends to make a big difference in the end result.
For events that last more than one day, how do you make sure the flowers don’t wilt?
Logistics are always a challenge when it comes to a perishable product but there are definitely hardier flowers that will last several days, sometimes even out of water and still look great. When designing for an event that spans more than one day, I would consider the temperature, if there can be a water source, and then choose my materials around that. I always process my flowers very well also as this typically ensures flowers will last longer. One of the fun aspects of floral design is solving these kinds of problems and being creative with how I solve them.
What are a few items every florist needs in their floral “toolbox”?
Some of my favorite tools are floral tape and floral wire because you can create or fix just about anything with tape and wire. It can be viewed by some as old school mechanics now with things like floral glues and adhesives (which I use and love) but there is nothing quite as sturdy as good ol’ taping and wiring for something that needs to hold together. I also love my staple gun, chicken wire, very sharp floral shears, wire cutters, zip ties, and any style of gorgeous ribbon!