Introducing "Poppin' By" a Create & Cultivate profile series in Partnership with Chandon. Every month this year we're profiling a female entrepreneur, popping by their work space and enjoying a bit of bubbly. Here's a cheers to amazing, working women!
Kelsey Harper, the creative brain, founder and florist behind one of LA's most sought-after floral and event design companies, had to do the impossible.
After years of going by FLOWER GIRL LOS ANGELES, Kelsey was given an option: battle it out legally for the name or change it.
For many entrepreneurs the thought of a rebrand is a nightmare. For Kelsey, it represented opportunity. *Note, this is the frame of mind common amongst successful entrepreneurs. There are no doors, only windows.* Of the opp, Kelsey says, "I decided that I would rather invest the money I would have spent on a lawyer, into a beautiful cohesive rebrand. I had outgrown the name, it felt young and tired and I also felt confined by the words "Flower Girl" and “Los Angeles."
In other words: Kelsey's flower vase is half full.
So, inspired by her fortitude-- April showers bring May flowers after all-- we popped by Kelsey's new space Matriarch Floral in the newly launched Fred Segal LA to chat new beginnings, old names, and the flower that she's just not that into.
You trained as a special effects makeup artist. Then moved to Maui. And your love of florals grew. What was the point you knew you wanted to shift careers?
I started doing flowers as a hobby for the families I nannied for and assisted. After almost 8 years of being on someone else schedule, I knew my next step would be to work for myself. I did not have any formal flower training, but my love for taking a raw material, combining it with others texturally and color wise really made me so happy. In the back of my mind my dad always told me, "Do something that makes you happy, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” and flowers were that for me. While it is a lot of physical labor, I still wake up excited about my career.
"Do something that makes you happy, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Flowers were that for me."
Were you prepared to launch your own biz?
I was not at all prepared. I was inspired by my two best girlfriends who had both started their own businesses in the fashion industry and I learned from making many mistakes and being careful not to repeat them. I still feel like I would benefit from taking a business class or two.
At what point did you decide to rebrand to Matriarch?
After a potential legal battle for the name “Flower Girl” I decided that I would rather invest the money I would have spent on a lawyer, into a beautiful cohesive rebrand. I had outgrown the name, it felt young and tired and I also felt confined by the words "Flower Girl" and “Los Angeles". I wanted to redefine my brand in a way that didn’t restrict me from working in different creative areas or places and also use a name that really resonated with me, something that was strong and feminine, and something that wouldn’t cause brand confusion with many of the other “Flower Girl” brands that were popping up in different cities, further diluting it.
What influenced the decision to take out a retail space?
After having an online shop for so many years, I wanted to take the opportunity to really get out in the field and meet some of my loyal clients who I had never met in person. Also, I wanted to offer same day delivery and pick up for those who needed something sooner than the next business day. After 6 months in the space, I’ve realized that people still prefer to shop online, so we have transitioned the space into a beautiful plant and gift shop during the week and are there creating fresh bouquets and arrangements on the weekend when it's a bit busier, to avoid waste.
Is it beneficial to be in a space with other retailers?
It’s really amazing feeling like a one stop shop for people who are looking for a gift and want to incorporate fresh flowers. The family like environment is inspiring, and a lot of the shops in Fred Segal are female run.
What would you call the most fun/exciting aspect of your business?
It’s really fun executing my clients' visions in my own interpretation. Each arrangement is custom made to order so that we can really capture what we think our recipient might enjoy. The large scale installations are my favorite part of what I do. It forces me to think outside-the-box, as sometimes we are creating/executing things that haven’t ever been made before.
"Each arrangement is custom made to order so that we can really capture what we think our recipient might enjoy."
What’s the hardest part?
Balancing work life and family life is always a challenge. I want to be a present mother but also a good business owner and sometimes I’m needed in both areas at the same time. Also, managing accounting and emails has always been a challenge. This last year I brought on an accountant and studio manager to help in both areas and it has definitely positively affected business.
For those who want to work with big companies, how do you get in with names like Chateau Marmot and Sunset Towers?
Being an LA native, I am lucky enough to call some of the large businesses I work with friends. I think working with people who you know and people who trust your vision, whether the business is large or small, is my best advice. Sending free/ promo arrangements or work is also a nice gesture to say hello and give a client an idea of what you’re capable of.
What’s been the craziest request you’ve ever received?
The installation we did for Depeche Mode earlier this year was pretty insane. We installed in the window of Fred Segal, over 3,000 red roses that floated across the 18ft window and were suspended from the ceiling. We had creative freedom but the installation was definitely difficult to assemble. Each rose had a water tube attached to keep them alive for a full week.
Favorite floral of the moment:
Spring is definitely here early this year and I am loving a greenery called Spirea. It is such a beautiful color and the little white blossoms are so dainty and have beautiful motion.
Flower that you’d like to see put on pause:
Gerber daisies are definitely at the bottom of my list.
Your turn! Be sure to Pop BY and visit Kelsey at Matriarch Floral in store at Fred Segal Sunset:
8500 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Check her out here: www.matriarchla.com
And follow along on her floral adventures here @flowergirllosangeles
Be sure to check back next month for the next installment of Poppin' By.
Photo credit: Tyler William Parker