Five Questions with Les Fleurs Founder Sandra Sigman
The floral designer and owner of the Andover boutique is all about simple, Parisian-chic arrangements.
Sandra Sigman was 11 years old when her mother Madonna started selling the bouquets she arranged in their Shrewsbury home to local grocery stores. One day, when an order came in for 200 bouquets, Sigman accompanied Madonna to the Boston Flower Market. “I thought, ‘Oh my god this is amazing! Where do all these flowers come from?’” Sigman says. “I think that was when my interest in floral design first started.”
When Sigman was 20, she moved to Paris to tour Europe professionally as an ice skater. Still, when she wasn’t performing, the Massachusetts native would spend the day wandering around neighborhood flower shops, wheels spinning. She’d call her mom in her Worcester-area floral design studio to report back. “I’d say, ‘Mom, they do everything with their hands and they wear beautiful black aprons!’” she recalls. Not long later, her mother had a recurrence of breast cancer, so Sigman returned home to help her in the workshop.
Then, at the dawn of the ’90s, the mother-daughter duo decided to open Les Fleurs—a European-inspired flower shop they’d talked about starting for years. A month after Les Fleurs opened its doors in Andover, however, Sigman’s mom passed away. “I was devastated,” Sigman recalls. “I was like, ‘How am I going to do this?’” Sigman knew she needed to figure out how to market her business quickly, so she brought a batch of her bouquets and a stack of homemade business cards to the Park Plaza for a bridal show and booked 38 weddings that day. “Then I was like, ‘Okay, I can do this,” she says. “[I thought,] ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’”
Whether she’s crafting a fairytale-chic floral chuppah or a dreamy, free-flowing bouquet, Sigman has found her stride. These days, the shop has more than 30,000 followers on Instagram and offers floral-design services, gifts, design workshops, and antique décor rentals. “When you’re first starting out, you’ll take any [business]. I think that’s changed for me now. I know our style–it’s a garden style, a much more French style,” Sigman says. “There are definitely brides who come in and want something super modern, but I just realize now that I’ve kind of zoned in and noticed my niche is.”
Ahead, Sigman reveals the one floral piece you shouldn’t skimp on and why she loves designing for couples.
How would you describe the Les Fleurs aesthetic?
When I was starting my business, I needed to find inspiration somewhere. Back then, there was no Instagram, no Facebook, no Pinterest. So I decided that I’d go back to France to visit some of the flower shops that had really inspired me. What the French are so good at is quality. I learned that from day one: Never skimp on the quality of what you use. They’re also very minimalistic. They don’t just add everything but the kitchen sink into their bouquets. They may take one or two colors, say purple and white, and add a shade that’s a little lighter like lavender, but they don’t put purple, lavender, yellow, and orange [together]. That’s my aesthetic. My palette is much more monotone because I think it’s more pleasing to the eye. I also think the placement of flowers is really important. If it’s all bunched up and really tight, I always say let the flowers breathe. Let them show their beauty. If you just cram a peony next to a rose, they’re competing to look the best.
What’s one trend in floral that you’re really loving these days?
There’s a big trend towards foraging, where a florist will go out to the side of the road to get flowers. It’s when you’re driving and you’re like, “Oh, what’s that blooming over there?” For me, my garden is where I pick things that I could never get at a traditional flower market. For example, I’ll grow lamb’s ear, or French lavender, or a rare kind of tulip that I know I could only get shipped in from Holland. It makes the [arrangements] more interesting.
What’s one thing that brides and grooms should (or shouldn’t) skimp on?
First of all, your bouquet is in the pictures for the rest of your life, and when you walk down the aisle everybody turns their head and looks at the bride. So your bouquet should be part of that whole first-look package. The other aspect that I wouldn’t skimp on is centerpieces. Again, it’s the first thing you notice at a reception, and people are sitting there for six hours. They may not notice the arrangement in the bathroom or at a cocktail table, but they’re going to notice what’s on their table. I don’t try to tell people where to spend their money, though: If someone is really into their ceremony and wants it to be all blooms, then of course I’ll do that for them, but they have to be realistic with the budget.
Have you had a major wedding crisis? If so, how did you handle it?
Oh yeah, one time the centerpieces kept falling over because it was outdoors and windy, but you just start thinking on your feet and find anything you can to secure them. Thank God for moss. We got some rocks to put at the bottom of the pedestals and covered them with moss and little flowers, and that finally helped. My nerves were shot, but everyone was like, “It’s lovely!” Wind and gusting rain are just not our friends. I can’t even tell you how many times [a pedestal] has fallen or blown over. So I always bring extra, just in case. And when you’re trying to set up an archway in a monsoon, or it’s super windy, everything has to be staked in the ground. That means it’s either going to be cast iron or weighted down. My dad got PVC piping, and we cemented it into gorgeous pots that are super secure and then added lots of balloons. The customers don’t know and the guests don’t know, but those things are structured.
What do you love most about designing for weddings?
The whole process. When you first meet the family it’s cordial, but you really quickly get to know their style and tastes. Then you’re hugging them the day of their wedding, and you’ve become really attached because you’re planning such a big day for them. I hear of flower shops that do three, four weddings a weekend. But when you’re running around and trying to get it all done, I don’t think you enjoy the process. I get to know my brides much better. I’ll really [ask], “What [are] your interests? Do you like to go to museums? What’s your style? What kind of restaurants do you like to go to? Where do you live? What do you do?” If everything is geared toward getting to know them, I have a better idea and understanding of what I can do to make this experience really great for them. Executing their vision is so rewarding because when you see [the arrangements] at the store, they’re pretty, but when you get them to the site and you add the bride and the dress, it’s like, “Oh my god, the bouquet is even more gorgeous with you holding it!” That makes me so excited, too.
27 Barnard St., Andover, 978-475-9669, lesfleurs.com.
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