Floral Designer Sydney Smith Dishes on Growing Her Business
Floral designer Sydney Smith makes artful arrangements out of beautiful blooms.
Roxbury native Sydney Smith’s love of flowers came early: “My grandma had a [plot] in a community garden, and I would go with her to plant flowers,” she recalls. Years later, as an adult searching for her calling, she found herself enjoying flowers in a different way when her boyfriend would surprise her with a fresh bouquet every week. Smith got so much delight out of the arrangements that she began designing her own and posting photos on Instagram. “I just kept practicing, and the more I promoted myself, the more people wanted to use me [for events],” Smith says. Her first wedding gig was for a friend’s nuptials; her second was a huge celebration with 600 guests. “After that, I was like, ‘Okay, I can do anything.’” Now, more than two years in, she offers both floral design services and custom-made décor for weddings and other events. “The sky’s the limit. I want to keep growing, expanding my team, and putting out quality work,” Smith says.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I like seeing the aftermath. [What I do] is not always peaches and cream. I want everything to be perfect, and I want to make sure everyone loves my work. So seeing the room all set up and seeing the bride’s reaction and the planner’s reaction makes me so happy. It’s what makes me want to get ready for the next event.
What was it like experiencing your first full year of business during the COVID outbreak?
I didn’t realize how busy I was going to get really fast. I was consistently making money during the pandemic with micro weddings, and I felt like couples were spending more money on flowers and décor during the pandemic because the events were smaller. But 2021 was obviously busier. All of a sudden I was getting [booked for] rescheduled weddings and new weddings, and new wedding planners were reaching out to work with me. Now we have about three weddings a weekend.
How much does seasonality matter when selecting wedding flowers?
It matters a lot because every flower has a season. You can get certain flowers [off-season], but it costs more because it’s coming from a different part of the world and the quality is usually not great. I make sure to educate my clients on what’s in season, and if they ask for a flower that’s not in season, I’ll tell them we can’t use it but also share something that’s similar. I’m really good at helping people substitute things out. There are so many to choose from. [For example], if peonies aren’t in season, we could use a garden rose and it’ll still have a big impact. It won’t give you the same look, but it’ll be really close.
What details should a couple know about their celebration prior to reaching out to a florist?
A lot of times when I get emails, the bride has no idea what she wants, or her Pinterest board is all over the place, and that’s okay. My job is to help you understand what you want and what works for your budget, so it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers in that initial email. I just need to know how many tables you expect and if you want low or high [centerpieces]. I can come up with the design for you, which is always fun to do because I feel like my best work is when clients let me be creative and have full control.
Do you have a favorite type of arrangement to create?
I like doing backdrop pieces like an arbor for a wedding or a floral wall for a bridal shower. It’s very aesthetically pleasing to me the way you can arrange and place the flowers. I also feel like it’s a huge focal point for an event or wedding because most of the pictures are taken in front of them.
Is there anything you haven’t gotten to do yet in your career that you’re hoping to in the future?
I’ve never done a full ceiling installation, so that’s one of my goals. I’d love to do a wedding with a budget that will allow me to do something like that.
Sydney Smith offers floral suggestions for five celebration styles.
Natural & Bohemian
Think lots of texture and loose and whimsical florals. The ideal centerpiece would have a mix of dry and fresh florals using pampas, dried palms, dried bunny tail grass, amaranths, proteas, and fresh wildflowers.
For that style, I like simple bud vases and very dainty, pretty flowers like ranunculus, tulips, or lisianthus in nudes, whites, creams, and blushes.
Timeless & Polished
For a lot of classic weddings, hydrangeas are the go-to flower, along with roses, baby’s breath, and calla lilies.
Most rustic weddings typically feature a lot of greenery. Seeded eucalyptus would pair well with sunflowers, waxflowers, daisies, and snapdragons.
You want statement flowers that make arrangements look luxe and expensive, such as peonies, roses, orchids, and dahlias.
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