Meet Kelly Perry
Like you, I've enjoyed beauty for a long time. My earliest recollection of creating a flower arrangement was in the sixth grade. We had an event called the "Friendship Etiquette Banquet" and the girls were to wear paper flower corsages. I thought this needed an upgrade so I led the crew in creating silk flower corsages. Very fancy (haha!).
Another early flower memory was in seventh grade. My science project was "What floral preservative will keep a carnation fresh the longest?" The winner was Floralife incase you were curious.
Shortly after my science project I started a cake decorating business called "Kelly's Cakes." I made cakes for everyday occasions and weddings all through middle and high school and occasionally in college until I "retired" after my own wedding. During this time, I was interested in a fashion career so I created dresses for special occasions in my high school home economics class, and I worked at a boutique bridal store.
In college I studied Fashion, Interior Design, Event Planning and Entrepreneurship until the economy collapse in 2007. I decided to shift course just a little bit and added education to my degree. The first lesson I taught in my education class was called "The Elements and Principles of Design." I practically floated out of that class and remember thinking, "If I could find a way to just teach that lesson for the rest of my life, I would be SO happy." It combined everything I loved — fashion, interiors, business, event design, art and education.
After student teaching and our wedding I started a job as a corporate event planner. After about two years of that I felt like it was important to make a change, but I didn't know what that would look like. I had never even thought about a career in flowers before, but realized rather quickly this was it! I share more about this part of the story in my Status Go interview below if you are interested.
Today I run a boutique floral design business for weddings called Philosophy Flowers and do all of the content development and classes here at Team Flower. I love learning, and below are some of the floral trainings and trips I've participated in over the life of our company. I've been involved with hosting or attending over 20 workshops.
- Little Flower School Brooklyn with Saipua + Nicolette Camille, 4 single day classes + 1 masterclass
- Flowerwild Workshop with Kate Holt, Multi-day class
- Ariella Chezar, Multi-day master class
- Trouvaille Workshop with Rhi from Hey Gorgeous Events
- American Institute of Floral Designers, Online Classes in Principles of Design + Technique
- English Garden Tour, England
- America’s Mart in Atlanta and Garment/Flower District in NYC, Sourcing outstanding embellishments, supplies and of course, flowers
- Flower Shop Tour with Flower School New York
- Shane Connolly Masterclass with Flower School New York
- Holland Tour and Ariella Chezar Class with Florabundance
My work is currently featured in Southern Weddings (Lisa and Dave), Martha Stewart Weddings (McKenzie and Brandon), and countless others previously, totaling over 55 publications. In addition to the 60 clients we have serviced personally over the last three seasons, we occasionally jump in to help other florists bring their plans to life. You can view more of our work at the Philosophy Flowers website.
Below are past freelance clients:
- Saipua in Charlottesville, Featured in Martha Stewart Weddings
- Sinclair & Moore in Seattle, Featured in Martha Stewart Weddings
- Rosegolden Flowers in Puerto Rico, Featured in Martha Stewart Weddings Online
- Jacin Fitzgerald Events in Asheville
If you're interested in learning more about me, read on for interviews with Floret Flowers, Creme Brands and Status Go! I'm so delighted you've stopped by to learn more and I hope my story encourages you with yours. I really believe...
Interview with Mayesh Wholesale
Mayesh: So to start out, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you found yourself in the flower industry!
Kelly: I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with my techie husband Jesse and our little golden-doodle Buster. Here is a little iPhone snap of where we live! I’ve always loved design, but thought I would apply the principles through home interiors. I started my secondary education in Interior Design + Business. When the housing market crashed in 2008, my dad suggested I diversify. I moved credits around to make room for education classes and graduated a licensed teacher. Flowers were not on the radar at the time, but thankfully, both the design and education skills transferred beautifully when I discovered flowers. My first meeting with flowers changed my life, as I know they have for so many of you.
Mayesh: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Kelly: Classic. The principles that guide my arrangements are as old as the dirt flowers grow in! Balance, movement, rest and love. This arrangement shot by Mark Andrews is one of my favorites.
Mayesh: You seem to be very passionate about education, hence the creation of Team Flower. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Kelly: I love education, but what I’m really passionate about is bringing people who love flowers together. Magic happens there! Education is one way to do that, and with my skill set, a natural fit. Will I always teach? Surely, in some way, but this is just the beginning! As I catch glimpses of the dream and what it will become I can’t help but think it will take on many shapes and sizes throughout my life and look different when I’m a grandma. But I do know I’ll always find myself in the company of “the flower people.”
Interview with Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers
EB: You have a beautful blog that always has gorgeous photos (I so wish I had a seat at those stunning tables you created). On one of your recent posts, you talked about aspiring to be a lifelong learner. You’ve actually learned your craft from some of the best—including Ariella Chezar and Saipua and Nicolette Camille of The Little Flower School Brooklyn. How have their design styles influenced your work? And moreover, how is your work distinct?
KP: Yes! I’m so thankful for the time I’ve spent learning with these ladies! My life changed the day I met Nicolette. She and Nog awakened a deep love inside me for flowers with their book “Bringing Nature Home” and I’ve never recovered. The day I met Sarah was the day I realized that I was supposed to quit my job and do flowers. I’m so thankful for her push. And Ariella, her flowers are sprinkled throughout a book I’ve been keeping of Martha Stewart articles since middle school. I’ll never forget watching her arrange flowers for the first time on a YouTube video at my kitchen table. She is a thoughtful arranger. Every little flower was polished and carefully placed. It was poetic. And actually, more than a particular style or technique, what these women have taught me is to be thoughtful in my arranging — to live with both eyes open, drinking in every minute of everyday and appreciating the fragility and beauty flowers bring to the world. As for what makes my work distinct, well I’d have to say that’s me! When you follow after what you think is beautiful and use the materials that are around you at that moment your work becomes alive in a way that is all yours.
EB: To what extent have you been able to infuse local, seasonal flowers into your designs? How much of your own product are you growing or using?
KP: I use local all the time, as much as possible! I collaborate with an amazing grower who loves flowers as much as I do and understands color, shape and seasonality. She has lots of land and knows when all the patches of wild things are growing — forget me nots, poppies, lily of the valley, sweet peas and solomon’s seal are some of my favorites. I’m so spoiled and thankful for her! As for product I grow personally, my husband Jesse and I have a small garden, and I filled it with foxglove. It’s my favorite flower! So once the foxgloves are done my garden is a little…bare! I’m working on developing true gardening skills. I have a few other things in the garden — clematis, wisteria, roses, peonies, hellebore, rhododendron and bleeding heart.
EB: Ok, a quick game of flower association:
Favorite fall flower: I love the fruits! Persimmons and apples…it’s what I think really makes the arrangements special. The color variations in them is so beautiful and it just makes my heart sing!
Splurge-worthy flower: Distant Drum garden roses. I got teary the first time I saw them.
Most under-appreciated flower: The wedding world is full of garden roses and ranunculus (which are beautiful!), but what I love and feel called to find and show the world are the flowers growing in ditches and along streams. The flower world would be even more interesting if we all took more walks and noticed the things around us that are just growing wild, pure and unadulterated.
Interview with Kathryn Duckett of Crème Brands
Question: Tell me your story!
I would describe myself as a multi-passionate person. When I was little I wanted to be a dentist like my dad on Mondays, a teacher on Tuesdays, a babysitter on Wednesdays...the list goes on. In high school I had to take this "plan" test that tells you what sectors of industry you should consider working in...mine naturally came back with a big question mark in the middle. I guess they didn't know what I should do either. I've known for a long time that I'd like to be an entrepreneur in a creative field, but I never knew what kind. I made a lot of guesses over the years and tried a lot of things — designing cakes, working in a bridal boutique, event planning, photography — everything but flowers. After Jesse and I got married I kept reading blogs and I realized I kept saving photos of flowers. As I pulled out my Martha Stewart archives all the pages that were earmarked had flowers. I even had a little page pulled out of a lady with her sun hat and dog in a field of roses and I wrote at the top: "Someday I want to be this lady." I felt confident then and I feel confident now because I felt like I forced every other thing I tried, and this just naturally fell into my lap. It was easy and light, a gift given at the perfect time.
Question: What advice do you think wedding professionals need to hear right now?
Gifts can start to feel like curses if things get out of balance. Easy and light — that is how you were made to feel. My “small step” to make your business better in the next 24 hours is resting. Step away from your work and breathe! Notice beauty. Clear your mind. Laugh! Rent a convertible for the afternoon and drive it down a backroad...whatever you need to do! Your brain needs rest. If you constantly plan your next move or project you will burn out. You'll reach a breaking point. I'd love for you to adjust your sails so you can keep bringing joy to the world through your gift. Now, go do that thing...whatever it is...and as you go, know that your future is bright and your burden is light.