We are back this month with another episode of The Social Project. This time was with two seriously talented ladies who I just can’t get enough of; Tara & Kenzie from Forgather Floral Co., and photographer Jennifer Klementti. The Social Project is designed to provide a platform for creatives to really thrive together and support one another. It is important for us to remember that we are not just what we do, I love my job but I also love being creative – and some of my best days are ones where I am just chatting with other boss babes about exciting new ideas or opportunities. Honestly, there really is no better way to end the week than diving into a deep, inspiring conversation with other creatives, creatives whose talent blows me away constantly. And of course I got to chat over some wine with these two about their businesses, their aspirations, and the wedding industry that we all love so much!
Okay Tara, tell me what we are going to be doing today.
I wanted to show you how to arrange flowers at home if you were gifted a bouquet and maybe wanted to spice it up a bit with some flowers from the garden, and also how just make it more long lasting. So we are going to do a european hand tied bouquet and then put it into the vase. I always start by divvying up all the flowers, it is really important to have a recipe that I always follow especially when doing multiple arrangements. It helps to make sure you have all your numbers right and it helps me stay organized, kind of feeling like there is a method to my creative madness.
While I figure out what I am doing, why don’t you tell me a bit about what drew you towards working with flowers.
I actually went to art school at first. I always wanted to do something creative and I knew that I wanted to have some kind of creative outlet – but I actually wasn’t very good at art. It took me a while to find a medium where I could truly show my creativity but I finally figured out that I could get that same artistic satisfaction from flowers that I had longed for with art. I always loved gardening. My Papa had a really green thumb and I was always watching him work in the garden. I had a friend who was doing a floral design program after working at a floral shop while I was at Ryerson in a program that really didn’t fuel my creativity. So I decided to go to flower school, and then as soon as I started working with flowers and learning the techniques I realized that’s the medium I wanted to work with. I want to be creating and designing, and I quickly discovered that floral design is similar to visual art – making shapes and sculptures, and getting to work with colour – I am weirdly obsessed with colour!
And when did you start Forgather Floral Co?
I started Forgather two years ago. I had worked in Toronto for a few different shops, learning tons of different things. I learned a lot about the importance of thickness, and structure, and dealing in a retail environment. During my time with East of Eliza, I learned way more about plant care and getting flowers to last longer, as she was also a garden centre. She was very strict there and had us learn all of the latin names to the flowers and we were only allowed to refer to them by their latin name. It was a really cool environment that forced me to learn in a way I probably never would have on my own. Then I went to Botany Floral Studio which is where I fell in love with wedding flowers, learning more about working with brides, the proper quoting process, and the importance of budgeting. After that I moved back to Barrie with my boyfriend to be closer to family, and to give ourselves a slower lifestyle. Ive always had my mom helping me, but now I am delighted to have Kenzie joining the team – we have the same aesthetic and she has such a good creative eye, which is so helpful especially since we are embarking on a new journey as Forgather will be opening up a retail shop.
A retail space that is amazing, tell me more about that!
It’s been pretty hush hush until now, but we are really excited. We will have fresh florals for sale, small gifts, and it will also be our workspace for consultations and creating. We are both really looking forward to the lifestyle change with opening up this space, giving ourselves a place to go everyday to work – structure and routine are very important!
(well I certainly cannot wait to check out that space!)
So you will be leaving the studio here with Jennifer, I am sure she is sad to see you go!
Oh yes, I am extremely excited for her but it was so nice having her here – being able to collaborate and just walking in to fresh flowers all the time!
And Jennifer, you have been a photographer here in Barrie for a long time – how do you describe your business?
Yes, it will be 15 years this summer! The industry has changed tremendously. There are a lot more talented photographers in the area, and I think it is a really good time for photographers right now because you can really diversify yourself. I have always done weddings, portrait and commercial work since day one, and I think that is why I have been able to stay in business for 15 years. I photograph people. People are the subject I am most drawn to. I love to photograph beautiful spaces and details, but I truly love to work with people. My clients feel comfortable around me which makes being in front of the camera less daunting. And often times I hear that when people look at my work they notice the connection and the expression in the image.
Do you have advice for other photographers or entrepreneurs looking to be successful?
Right now it’s all about storytelling, owning your own voice and your own brand. Working on your website, blogging, and making that personal connection with your followers. It is also about finding a balance. I do 10 weddings a year now. I’m a mom, so I want to spend more time with my daughter. It is interesting because you are always learning, and it’s so funny to see how things have changed over the last 15 years, but it’s important to always have the same message. I have always marketed myself as a fine art photographer for wedding, portrait and commercial.
What do you love about the wedding photography side of your business?
Weddings kind of incorporate everything I love about photography into one; portrait, documentary, food, and details. I loooove to shoot details.
I want to know more about what you both love about your jobs. What gets you excited to do what you do every day?
Tara – I love how florals are different everyday and there is so much to learn. Even when I feel like I have a handle on things there is always something new to challenge or inspire me. I love meeting new couples, it sounds so cheesy but I just love hearing a couples story. I feel like if you don’t have the heart to be in the wedding industry you won’t succeed. Alternatively I just love that the floral industry allows me to be part of every milestone in peoples lives. I am marking the big occasions with flowers all the time. From new babies, to engagements, weddings, anniversaries, and then unfortunately even death. I’m excited to get to know my clients, and know when their birthdays and anniversaries are. Really building those connections through beautiful floral designs.
Jennifer – That is exactly my favourite thing, the long standing relationships. Often people hire me for their wedding and I move on to shoot their maternity, new baby, businesses if they have them. The long term connection with people, and the cherished moments in peoples lives where they trust me to capture and document that for them. That brings the most joy to me as a photographer.
Do you see an opportunity for change within your industries?
Tara – Totally! I want to branch away from doing cookie cutter weddings. I think a big change florists have been working towards in general is getting clients to be more open to trying something different in terms of design. I want to encourage couples to trust me and my creativity, don’t show me a photo of a bouquet and ask me to re-create it. I want to guide people into a new direction and push myself creatively.
Jennifer – So I actually think the opportunity for change is something I am already starting to see. Sometimes when people get started in the industry they undervalue and under charge for their services. And I am starting to see photographers begin with prices that are comparable and standard for the industry. I think people are starting to see the value in what great photography can do for them.
What an incredible day this was! Also, with Tara’s tips this arrangement lasted in my house for almost 2 weeks! My favourite are those dutch parrot tulips, the frills are so unique and really stood out as a showpiece for me. Stay tuned for another blog post coming soon where Tara will explain how you can make this arrangement yourself at home!
Thank you so much for following along with The Social Project. I want to leave you all with a question and a challenge – who did you inspire today? Who could you inspire tomorrow? Or maybe you need the inspiring? Whichever or whatever it is get out there and create, spread some empowerment and truth around and lift each other up! You never know what might be brewing, or what magic you might create. (quote from Jenna Stewart)
If you’re interested in being a part of The Social Project, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to follow Tara & Jennifer on Instagram