Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wedding Talent:beautiful dresses supporting a good cause from Brides Project

Wedding Talent is a series that introduces some of our favourite wedding industry people. These are people we've collaborated with and worked along side as we put together our happy wedding blooms.

I'm delighted to introduce you to a wonderful organization here in Toronto called Brides Project. This amazing business is the perfect way to recycle your wedding dress or find the dress of your dreams in a sustainable way. I asked the company's founder, Helen Sweet, a few questions to find out more about what they do:

Jess:. I love the concept of the Brides Project. What was the inspiration for starting this up?

Helen: My inspiration.  Well, as you point out, a big part of that was wanting to find a way to make a difference through such a fabulous occasion, and doing something to reduce the excesses and turn them into a contribution instead.  I've never been one to keep stuff that I'm not using any more, so I really wanted someone else to enjoy my dress/veil/shoes/crin and all the other goodies I had bought.  And, I'm a minister's kid.  My Dad always brought me up understanding that it's better to give than to receive, and I saw a wedding as an excellent opportunity to put that credo into action. 
Weddings are also about community, and welcoming a couple into that community.  As such, it just seems right to give back and be able to contribute to that community that embraces us - whether you consider it a group of friends & family, or the larger geographic community in which we live, work and (hopefully) thrive.

Jess: Tell us about the process- what should a bride to be expect when purchasing through you?

Helen: I think a key difference for brides shopping here is that we really try to educate them about wedding dresses.  It's not like buying a pair of jeans at the Gap where they either fit and make your butt look great, or fail at doing so.  Wedding dresses almost invariably need to be altered which is new to a lot of people... especially when a lot of clothing has 'stretch'.  We take time with every bride understanding how we can help work within her budget, and also helping her understand the fitting process and how the seamstresses we work with play a crucial role in the process.  They are the true "garment goddesses", and can alter them up or down several sizes, add that illusion neckline they're after - or sleeves - or any number of tweaks!  Our cleaners are also phenomenal, and can render a dress that was very well loved into sparkling new condition - it's really quite breathtaking to see the transformation!

Jess: How can brides help after their wedding?

Helen:well, we're always delighted to find their dress a new home, but we also accept just about anything from the big day - veils, shoes, belts, jewelry and even decor items.  We primarily focus on the former items, but we also have a relationship with the school boards and they often use decor stuff in arts classes.  Brides can also do us a great service by spreading the word!

Jess: What’s the best part of what you do? What do you enjoy the most out of the Brides Project?

Helen: The best part of what I do at this point ... I don't actually spend much time in the shop anymore, but just LOVE officiating.  It's incredibly fulfilling - and such a privilege to work with couples to understand how we can design a ceremony that perfectly fits their personalities, the type of celebration they are having, and focuses on their unique vision of their future as a married pair.  No two ceremonies are the same - just as no two couples are the same.  I greatly enjoy guiding couples through the process, de-mystifying it, and helping them through the part of the day that can also be a little terrifying for some :)  It's definitely icing on the cake when the bride (or brides) walk down the aisle in a dress they found here.  Also, being in Toronto means that we have such a variety of individuals to work with - and a plethora of different religious and cultural backgrounds that can be incorporated.  I've met such wonderful people through all aspects of The Brides' Project - whether officiating, helping them to find a dress, working with them as volunteers, colleagues (e.g. folks like yourself!), or as one of the extremely deserving beneficiaries that we support.  I feel extremely fortunate in that regard.  The Brides' Project is indeed a community of like-minded folks, and together we're making a huge difference.  Hopefully by mid-summer, one part of that difference will be reaching $1,000,000 raised for cancer charities.  Woot!

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You can find Helen and Brides Project online here and follow along with their amazing endeavour on instagram here

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

In the shop: Spring always comes early for florists!

We are unbelievably lucky here in Toronto, we have access to amazing blooms even in winter from both local greenhouse growers and imported from other markets, especially the Dutch growers.
So, even though outside it is February, snowy and grey here in the city, in the shop we get to live in springtime already!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wedding Talent: Hana of Made By Hana Events

Wedding Talent is a series that introduces some of our favourite wedding industry people. These are people we've collaborated with and worked along side as we put together our happy wedding blooms.

This post introduces our friend Hana of Made by Hana Events. I first met Hana a couple of summers ago, onsite for a small garden wedding in a private home. It was really hot and the wedding was outside under a large tent. Thunder rumbled all day as I set up long garlands on the tables. Family and guests were in and out all day as I worked, and I got to see Hana in action as she deftly calmed overly anxious moms, organized vendors, artfully saw to all the little details on the tables and kept the mood light and relaxed throughout. She is really good at what she does, keeping low key and behind the scenes and I was so impressed with how she kept her cool and soothed ruffled feathers while still bringing the event together on time.Since then we've collaborated on a couple of editorial shoots and I've yet again seen her work her magic. I asked Hana a few questions about what couples should think about when deciding on a planner.

Jess: What is one thing that couples need to plan for but most don’t?

Hana:  Couples often times overlook the day of the wedding and the importance of having a “go-to” person in charge on the wedding day. Venue coordinators are great, but they are only really concerned with the tasks associated with the venue and MC’s are able to make announcements but they can’t be expected to chase people down for you. Having someone in charge on the wedding day to make sure everything is running smoothly, is incredibly important! Wedding Coordinators are able to take over everything for couples and make sure that the couple, family and friends can all enjoy themselves without worrying about all the details of the day.

 Jess: if a couple is trying to decide if they need a planner or not, what advice would you give?

Hana: Wedding Planners are like the Fairy Godmother you wish you had! They will take what you have and do everything they can to make it all happen in a stress-free environment. Most couples live incredibly busy lives and having someone by their side who knows the industry and is able to focus on the couples needs, makes the entire planning process and wedding day run smoothl

Jess: what should couples expect from a planner?

Hana: Couples can expect planners to direct them to the right people, help them save money, time and (of course) their sanity! 

Photo by Farah Ghazal LoveLightCLick

Jess:what do you love the most about what you do?

Hana:   I love my ability to be strong for my couples! There are almost always mini disasters that they never even hear about! I’ve set up cakes mid-reception because the driver got lost, sorted out plumbing and electric switches flipping, sewn up bridesmaids’ dresses, and so many other unexpected last minute problems!

Every wedding is so different and so is each couple. I always walk away knowing I’ve made dreams come true and friends in the process! 

Photo by Farah Ghazal Lovelightclick
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You can find Hana on line via her website here, and on her lovely instagram feed here, where she regularly posts really insightful and helpful quick videos about all things wedding planning.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

So long 2017, you've been a blast!

What an amazing year we've had at the shop! So many great things have happened, some small some big but all a result of plenty of hustle on our part. Here's a round up of some of the highlights.

photos via Rythmandme
Way back in March owner Jess got to be part of a  team of creatives that put together a canadiana inspired wedding shoot, spending the day styling the flowers at the Bob Rumball Manor here in Toronto. We recapped the shoot here, and the photos were featured on several high profile wedding blogs including Mountainside Bride Aisle society  Wedding Opera and the wedding affair blog

photo via Janet Kwan
 Also in March, Jess spent a day working with author Doris Wai creating a floral wall that got featured in the book Extraordinary Handlettering, which came out in November.

photos via Pepperandlight
Summer saw Jess out on another inspiring editorial shoot, this time with designer Vanessa in tow, as they traveled north to King City. Spending the day working flower magic on vintage cars and bicycles was a dream come true for the team. This shoot got lots of media attention too, being featured on Strictly Weddings and Event Source

Our team grew this year, with the lovely Kasia coming to work with us. Not only does Kasia make gorgeous floral work but she is also an illustrator, so we of course put her talents to good use and she handpainted a large scale mural on one of our shop walls.

We  were thrilled to make flowers for some amazing couples in 2017. So many of the events make it onto our  most favourite list, and it's been such an honour to have brides place their trust in our creativity. We've been incredibly lucky to work with couples that have allowed us to sneak in moments of creative spark, letting us stretch ourselves a little by trying something a little different for them. Here are just a few shots of some of our best loved work this year:

photo via Christine Lim

photo via Samantha Ong

 The end of November had owner Jess out on an editorial shoot again, spending a very cold but exciting day outside on a property north of the city putting together flowers for a woodland chic inspirational shoot that has recently been featured on Bloved blog and The Wedding Co.

photos via lovelightclick
And of course, 2017 was filled with lots of in shop fun too. This was our third year on Mount Pleasant rd and we've gotten to know so many wonderful folks, both clients and neighbours alike.

To all of you who come by for a chat, call in to order blooms, pick up a weekly bouquet, buy flowers for your girlfriend or your mom, pick out a cactus for yourself, let us be a part of your special family events- Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.  Running a retail shop isn't the easiest job in the world, but it certainly is the happiest!

Bring on 2018- we're ready!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Festive gift ideas from our team

The holidays are fast upon us, and this year we thought we'd ask each person on our team of creatives what their favourite thing to gift or receive in the our shop would be.

Handmade ceramic pots by Hinkleville potted with cactus $52 each
Vanessa's pick are these adorable mini ceramic pots handmade in here in Toronto by the lovely Janet of Hinkleville handmade.  Aren't they the cutest? We are so happy to stock Janet's work, we are the only shop in the city north of Bloor that does.

The Flower recipe book by Studio Choo $37.95  floral subscription starting at $255 for 3 months
 We are lucky enough to have a student of the Floral program at Seneca College doing her work experience with us this semester, the very sweet Sydney. Sydney's pick is one of our popular book titles, the Flower Recipe by Studio Choo. This hardcover book is inspirational whether you are a floral novice or hardened professional. Add a subscription of blooms to make this gift extra special, and we'll deliver a monthly bouquet for the recipient to use their newfound floral skills on.

Soy candles by Foxhound Collection made in Nova Scotia $18 each
Kasia loves our soy candles, coming to us from Nova Scotia via Foxhound Collection. Kasia's mom always lights beautiful candles in the winter time and for the holidays and these delicious scents and long burn candles give Kasia that festive feel.

Winter vase arrangement $90
Our lovely Angele's best gift is a beautiful vase of winter blooms in shades of delicate pinks, blushes and creams. Angele works with us while studying for her Masters in Social work so we don't get to see her as often as we would like, but love having her make her soft delicate pieces when she is in.

Botanica book from Uppercase, B.C.$48 and hanging splatter pot by Eikam in B.C.with succulent $52
Founder Jess's pick is this gorgeous book of all things floral inspired by Uppercase. It's filled with colour and life and makes a great gift for anyone who loves flowers, colours or making. Paired with her favourite piece from Eikam Ceramics, the hanging splatter pot, this gift is as colourful as Jessica!

Monday, November 13, 2017

In the shop: a carnation revival

I know what you are thinking. Mention the word carnation and you can see the scorn in most peoples faces almost immediately. Carnations aren't cool, right? they're oldfashioned, they're ugly. They are boring.

Thing is though, they really aren't. They aren't any of those things. Well, maybe you can argue oldfashioned, since they've certainly been available as a cut bloom for ages. But ugly? I disagree, and I'm willing to at least try to win you over on this, and on them being cool.

Thing is, there are some really gorgeous varieties of carnations on the market right now. Antique, muted faded tones that are blousey and frilly in all the right ways.

I truly think that if you love the ruffles and full bloom of a peony or a garden rose, then you need to give the humble carnation a second look. And definitely a second smell, because these beauties actually smell like heaven, a clove scented subtle perfume that will win you over if nothing else will.

I'm with you on plain jane white or red carnations. they don't thrill me either. But if you just look at a single carnation bloom, really taking in the fluttery petals and the delicate frills, putting out of your mind the actual name of the flower you are looking at......I think that you may find you are falling a little in love.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Creative Inspiration: our floral wall is featured in the book Extraordinary Handlettering by Doris Wai

Way back in March ( which seems like a year ago right now) I spent a day on the upper floor of a rather fancy private club in downtown Toronto. On King street, tucked away in an old building, the Albany Club is rather unassuming from the front. Once inside you take a tiny and very old elevator up to the top floor. It's the type of building and the type of elevator you expect to see in a 1930's Agatha Christie mystery novel. The door of the elevator actually has a handle and you open it actually like a door. It was adorable.

I was there to make and install a large scale floral wall to be featured in a book by my friend Doris Wai. Doris is extremely talented and all round creative ( we did a little feature on her here). She runs Love Lettering, a company that handletters signage on just about anything for just about anyone. And she has been working crazy hard on putting together a really gorgeous book. I didn't know Doris when she first asked me to be a part of the book, but a mutual friend suggested I might be able to do what she needed.

Doris gave me the brief of creating a large scale rich and moody floral wall, that she would then hang beautiful handmade glass mirrors on that she had hand lettered to create a seating chart as if for a wedding.  I'm going to be honest here and tell you what I didn't tell Doris, which is that I've never made such a thing before. So of course, I said yes, absolutely!

And on the day the result turned out exactly as both Doris and I had hoped, a moody, slightly wild wall of rich toned florals with vines of greenery crawling between the blooms, like the wall of a secret garden left to grow wild and unfettered.

We started with a large wooden board that Doris painted flat black. We led it on the floor (on top of a thick blanket) and once the places for the mirrors was chalked in I got started. I coloured a set of staples in with a black marker so they wouldn't show against the board, and got to work using a staple gun to attach the back layer of greens. Then I was able to add layers of blooms and more greenery, tucking under the stapled on framework. It was long and rather laborious work, there really is no quick way to get it done and we had only a four hour window to work within from load in to load out.

But it got done, and then the wonderful Janet Kwan got to work taking her gorgeous photographs.

This month the book is finally out, and I am so excited to be able to say how perfectly gorgeous and inspiring it is! Doris walks the reader through every aspect of lettering, giving insight into her tools and process that mean anyone can take on one of the beautiful projects she includes and make it their own.

Here she is, the lovely Doris who I am so happy to now call a friend. She came by the shop recently and dropped off a personalized copy of the book for me, and I'm slowly working my way through it- there is so much information in there and I'm so inspired already and I'm still just on the section about tools of the trade! She also very kindly signed some copies for us to carry here too, so you can pick up an autographed book for yourself or as a gift.

You can follow Doris on her Instagram account here or follow her insta account for the book, Extraordinary Handlettering here.

The wonderful creative vendors that made this shoot happen are:

Lettering & Concept - Love Lettering & Extraordinary Hand Lettering - Doris Wai
Janet Kwan Photography -Photography - Janet Kwan
Madison and Ella - Styling - Annie Tu
Southern Charm Vintage Rentals - Rentals - Kathie Barone
Alicia Ann Glassworks for the octagon handmade mirrors - Alicia Ann
The Albany Club - Venue