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Mother Earth and Fashion Influence Green Floral House Celadon & Celery

August 15, 2011

I had the pleasure of meeting Bess Wyrick, Founder and Creative Director of NYC-based green floral house Celadon & Celery several months back at a chic eco event put on by Ecover. We chatted it up for a bit but she was pulled away by dazzled guests who were mesmerized by her floral arrangements.

I didn’t begrudge them for their intrigue. Bess and her creations added color and life to the very pretty but  white-washed penthouse we were in. Her bright, royal blue espadrilles aside, something about Bess demanded attention in a very sweet and humble way. There was something beyond the obvious “green angle” Celadon & Celery has going on that makes them very different. I had a sneaking suspicion that there was a heck of a whole lot more that sets Bess and her business apart from any other floral designer in Manhattan.

Since I didn’t have enough time with Bess to put my finger on it that evening, I resorted to a follow up email the next day to schedule an interview. She agreed and invited me to partake in one of her floral design workshops afterwards. How fun!

Several weeks later, I walked into a sunny Chelsea studio filled with– suprise, flowers! And lots of them. Bess was on a client call writing notes on her wall which doubled as a chalkboard. Her team fluttered about prepping for a floral workshop less than an hour away. Ivie, Bess’ business partner offered me a seat and some sangria and I took in the beauty and warmth of the studio. What I would give to do my work in such a space every day, I thought.

Bess happily greeted me and we sat to talk. Her focus not on her forthcoming workshop, her employees or a client’s big event. She was very much in the present, seemingly glad to take a load off for a moment to chat.

As it turns out, event and floral design isn’t as glam as I thought. Bess shared that while she loves her business and wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world, it requires a lot of blood, sweat and tears. “We’re here at the studio every morning at 5am on the dot and we work 18 and 19 hour days often. People tend to think we just sit in this pretty studio placing beautiful flowers in vases all day long but it’s not that glamorous at all.We work really hard.” Bess and her team do all of the heavy lifting and dirty work that each job requires. Hauling heavy boxes and flowers around NYC and whatever they have to do to make their clients happy.

And happy their clients sure are.

Since Bess launched Celadon & Celery back in ’09, she’s created floral arrangements for weddings, dinner parties, showers, corporate events and everything in between. She’s retained a client base that keeps on coming back for more and Bess continues to take the company to new heights. It seems like everybody else is in the world is impressed by her “green” floral house. But she’s not at all impressed with herself.

She’s very passionate about the company’s eco business practices, but it’s so second nature to her that she doesn’t care to make a big deal out of the word “green.” When I asked her to describe how Celadon & Celery is sustainable, she smiled and said “it’s so engrained into our every day that sometimes I forget there’s this label to it!” Bess and team compost, source flowers from local growers and certified organic suppliers. They reuse and upcycle and Bess and as well as the all-star team she’s composed live very ethical and organic lifestyles.

Her business partner Ivie, for example, grew up on her family’s Macadamian nut farm in Hawaii. Ivie’s family ate what they grew, and she was raised close to the Earth caring for her family’s farm. Everything they grew was organic, and so when she came to the states, she was shocked and saddened by America’s mass-produced food. It seems perfectly fitting that in one of the biggest cities in the world, Bess would eventually discover Ivie.

Bess’ story is somewhat of an interesting on as well. She’s always had a deep appreciation for the environment and studied ecopsychology in college. In her post college/pre-Celadon & Celery days, she was an even younger entrepreneur in San Francisco designing her own clothing line and making wedding gowns.Her bridal clients began asking for additional services beyond gowns such as hand-sewn linens and floral arrangements. After just a couple weddings, she decided to stop designing dresses to focus on the flowers. She then trained under some of the best event designers and learned by carefully watching. Bess then moved to New York City, studied textile design and built Celadon & Celery on the side until she was finally able to sustain herself with it. The rest is history.

Even though Bess much prefers to design with flowers and not fabric these days, fashion still very much influences her day to day. Past and current fashion inspires her and her team’s creations. I asked Bess about what fashion trends we might see in some of her upcoming designs. She shared “A deep cobalt blue is going to be the shade for fall ’11, reminiscent of Yves Klein blue and post-World War II art.”

I think her answer sort of says it all. It’s artistic expression using flowers as paint, a vase and event as canvas and mother earth and fashion as inspiration. Bess is an artist.

Our conversation slowly came to an end as students excited for their floral workshop, (and maybe some sangria too!) began filling the studio. Twelve of us stood anxiously behind our stations, an empty vase and various tools before us. Bess took a back seat as her business partner Ivie led an incredibly entertaining and fun workshop. Ivie was funny, helpful and very patient. Bess would step in and help us floral arranging newbies as needed.

I learned useful floral arranging tips and tricks I’d never dreamed I’d ever learn. And I wound up creating a breathtakingly gorgeous arrangement. I stood above it for a moment shocked that I had actually creating such a thing of beauty.

As I walked down 28th street, my vase in a re-usable Celadon & Celery bag, I finally figured out what it was about Bess that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the event when we first met.

She and her company are real.

Bess is an eco-artist, not just a floral designer trying to put a green stamp on her work to gain more business and press. Everything about Celadon & Celery is authentic.You don’t just want Celadon & Celery to create and event for you or take a workshop with them, you want to hang out with them after it.

I highly suggest you try out one of their floral workshops for yourself!

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