Launched just three short years ago, Blue Bouquet—a Kansas City floral and event design team—has made a splash in the floral scene in the Midwest. With a team comprised of florists, designers, and amateur musicians, Blue Bouquet’s broad range of talent and creativity puts them among the best. Often using eclectic containers, Blue Bouquet creates arrangements and bouquets with great texture and vivid color. Head Designer Drue Carr loves to think outside of the box and create floral designs to complement a bride’s personality or event’s theme. Taking time away from her busy schedule, Drue took the time to answer some of my questions about her ethos, design aesthetic, and what inspired her to start her successful floral design business.
What initially sparked your interest to work with flowers?
I’ve always been drawn to beautiful things, and flowers qualify, of course. When I was 15, I needed a job and there was a floral shop nearby. ‘That looks like a great job,’ I thought. So I walked in and convinced them to hire me.
Who did you work under before starting your own business, Blue Bouquet?
Several shops in the Kansas City area. I’m especially indebted to Dan Needham of Needham Floral for his support in the early days.
I see from your website that a certain wedding inspired you to open Blue Bouquet. What about that wedding was the inspiration?
It was the largest wedding I had done on a freelance basis at that time—20 or 30 tables, I suppose. [My husband] Neil was working as an art director at a design firm at the time, and following that wedding he convinced me that we could make a good go of this.
I love your “why not” approach to floral design. Can you tell me a little bit about your personal style?
We try really hard to work independently of styles. Good design exists outside of trends and fashion. Our belief is that the client matters more than the current trends, and our job is to find their style—whether it be trendy, edgy, or traditional. Realistically though, there’s a good bit of me in everything I do and I’ll never escape that. For me, floral design is all about texture and color. That’s what I go for in everything I create. Composition matters, of course, but many florists make the mistake of starting with composition rather than starting with the texture and color of the materials and allowing them to dictate composition. You are dealing with nature, and you can’t force it or you’ll end up with very contrived arrangements. For me, floral design is all about flexibility. I know where I want to end up, but I don’t always know how I’m going to get there.
What are some everyday inspirations for your designs?
Store displays, architecture, graphic design… and of course the usual wedding blogs and the ever-enduring Martha Stewart. She’s got some fabulous designers working for her. They may not be avant-garde, but they have a great grasp on how to design for ordinary people and do it with a lot of class.
How do you deal with common obstacles you face while designing for events and weddings?
We spend much more time talking to our clients and prepping for events than we actually do in production. In order to be successful in events, you have to understand that. You have to learn to educate and partner with people and enjoy doing so.
Are there any floral designers that you look up to?
Many… All the usuals, really: David Stark and Avi Adler, Ariella Chezar, some Europeans like Gregor Lersch, and the entire staff of Martha Stewart. There are also some great local florists who I look up to.
On your website, it’s mentioned that while doing a wedding in Honduras, you spotted a phalaenopsis orchid plant growing off the side of a tree and used it in the wedding. It’s a very green approach; do you try to be “green” whenever possible?
We have great relationships with our local farmers, and we use them as much as possible. Their crops are limited unfortunately, and often even when they do have what we want, they don’t have the quantity. When we buy through wholesalers, we do so responsibly. Our relationships with our wholesalers are equally important. Obviously the environmental practices of their farmers are important. Equally important though, is the quality of life of the workers, the shipping/importing methods, and especially the quality of product. There are so many variables to weigh, so we find that trustworthy and responsible wholesalers are crucial.
I also see that you’re an avid gardener. Does this tie into your love for design in any way?
Not as much as you’d think. I do grow a few things that I use for weddings—things that are hard to ship, like clematis and lily of the valley. Mostly though, I just enjoy getting outside the shop and in the sun to work in the yard a bit. It’s good for my heart.
What kind of encouragement would you give to someone inexperienced who wants to take a stab at making an arrangement?
Just do it. No need to educate yourself first, though you might want to read online just a bit about how to cut and prep your flowers. Usually, I’d advise starting with something simple—maybe just a single, smaller vase and a single type of bloom. We’re coming up on peony season, and that would be a great place to start. Always think about what you are doing. Look at the arrangement as you go, and try hard to think about what is working and what isn’t. That’s how you’ll learn. There are lots of great books on floral design, and they can be helpful, but they’ll never replace what you can learn by just jumping in there and making something.
To see more images from Blue Bouquet’s impressive portfolio, click here.