Words: Katie Clifford
Photos: Mike Lyon
Any woman who attended college in the mid-nineties probably formed a number of unrealistic romantic expectations around the movie “Bed of Roses”—heartthrob Christian Slater as a sensitive flower deliveryman? Sold! In those pre-DVD days, my particular apartment of six ladies nearly wore out the VHS tape, and the soundtrack still figures heavily at our reunions nearly 20 years later. Although as a mature adult I have let go of many of the romantic myths from that movie, one of my favorite lines continues to be true. Slater tells Mary Stuart Masterson why he loves what he does: “No one is ever sad to see the flower delivery guy”. Even if he’s delivering an arrangement as a condolence, flowers have the ability to both comfort and uplift.
But this isn’t your grandmother’s flower shop. If you want a dozen roses mixed with baby's breath, keep walking.
Twigs and Posies owners Catherine Schneider and Amber Mustain well know the importance of flowers in the celebrations and heartaches of our lives. Based in a newly remodeled space in the old North End, their friendship and mutual aesthetic has evolved into a fast-growing floral design company specializing in weddings and events. But this isn’t your grandmother’s flower shop. If you want a dozen roses mixed with baby's breath, keep walking. If you want to make a more interesting statement with seasonal flowers, unexpected shapes, and unusual textures, then you will feel like you have stumbled into a real life Pinterest page.
A native of Wisconsin, Catherine has been in the floral design industry for 25 years, having relocated to Colorado after learning her craft in Arizona. Amber has been working with flowers since she was a teenager running errands for a shop in La Junta. Neither received any kind of formal training, but consider that to be to their advantage. “Floral schools teach an old, fashioned, rigid way of arranging. We are far more free with our designs. We don’t tie ourselves to any kind of structure,” explains Catherine.
“If someone calls and wants an FTD arrangement, we won’t do that. I think we just love flowers too much.”
The two met while working at the same shop five years ago and realized that they felt the same way about typical flower arranging. “If someone calls and wants an FTD arrangement, we won’t do that. I think we just love flowers too much.”
The holiday season is a busy time for the pair, but they were kind enough to let me spend a morning in their studio peppering them with questions. They have the easy banter of old friends who share not just a design perspective, but also an appreciation for the fact that this is really what they get to do for a living. As we discussed their plans for the future, they spoke about continuing to do quality work as they target new and unique events. They do not want to expand too far and lose the personal client interaction they clearly love.
What are the challenges of running a flower shop?
The only down part of this business—and we love what we do—is that you do not get a weekend. We have committed this year to taking a break in July. If we are going to survive and do a good job, we have to take some time. It’s hard to say “no” to some things in order to take that break, but in a creative business you have to do it.
Where does your inspiration come from?
We’re in the arts, so we’re always taking cues from architecture and fine art. And fortunately and unfortunately Pinterest is our friend. When people bring us things they like, it helps us to define what they are looking for. But we feel that whatever they bring us, we are going to be able to do it better. Amber adds, “The pictures may have a common theme that they don’t recognize that we can pick out and build on that. The best inspiration for me is just to go to the coolers. We love to walk the wholesale market in Denver.”
You get to work with brides on a day they have been dreaming about since they were little girls; do they look to you for advice or do they come in knowing just what they want?
We want to be the florist that they are hiring as a professional resource. They are not going to Costco and saying, “This is what I want.” So I feel that they definitely look to us for guidance. So then when we go to the wholesaler and we find something different, we’re not afraid to pick it up and when she sees it she says, “I never would have imagined this!” That’s what we love, and those are the clients we are interested in whether for weddings or other events.
What do you like about your neighborhood?
The Old North End folks appreciate the design. There are a lot of small businesses in the area and that means something to the people here.
Why go to a florist over the flowers at my grocery store?
Our flowers will last much longer because they are treated better. Flowers begin to drink as soon as they are cut so the flowers we get are dry packed and don’t start to drink until we cut them. At the grocery store they are stuck in water right away and you don’t know how long they have been there. They are typically located at the front of the store where they are subject to ranges in temperature. We keep our flowers in a cooler where the temp is controlled. We also don’t use the standard materials you find in a typical shop, we don’t keep the same flowers in the shop. We are always changing.
“We are compassionate people. We’ve had people in here for funerals and we cry with them."
Listening to these women talk it’s clear that this isn’t just a job for Amber and Catherine. “We are compassionate people,” Amber explains, “we’ve had people in here for funerals and we cry with them. At the same time, we’ll do a wedding for one sister and then we end up doing other weddings, showers and events for that family.” When I tease that they become the family “flower ladies” they exchanged knowing giggles, “Exactly! We had a bride that waved us over to meet people saying, ‘Oh you have to meet my flower ladies!’”
Ultimately, flowers are like many other commodities—better design can cost more but it makes a stronger statement. In the same way that hiring an architect versus using pre-fab plans to build a house can mean the difference between just a house and a home that is an extension of your personality. Catherine says that once people use a real florist, they tend to come back. They appreciate the unique results that come from working with a professional. Catherine and Amber love using materials you might not expect in a floral arrangement and that lend sophistication to their style. A bridal bouquet could feature 25 different elements including foliage, berries or pods. Their work is lush and complicated. It feels substantial, meaningful. I left wishing I had an event to plan solely so I could spend more mornings in their cozy shop.
Although 95 percent of their business comes through events and weddings, they can also do individual arrangements out of their storefront. Twigs and Posies is located at 2227 Weber Street. You can also visit them online at www.twigsandposies.com where you can also see samples of their work.