10 26 15
Los Angeles: Hollyflora Studio
Q / Hi Holly! How do you usually start your day?
A / Most work days start with the flower market, so everything has to be pretty efficient. These days I’ve been eating steamed sweet Korean yams given to me by one of the floral vendors.
Q / Do you have a daily uniform?
A / We recommend comfort beyond all else when working long hours. We favor more of an individual approach for our staff.
Q / Is there a time of day that you feel most productive? Anything specific that helps keep you focused?
A / Mornings. It’s inspiring to go to the market and have floral stories come together in your head only to watch them realized in the studio by afternoon.
Q / What is your favorite place to work?
A / On my dad’s deck in the forest above Santa Cruz, California. The weather is perfect and I just sweep the scraps into the hedges. It’s a magical place.
Q / How do you try to balance your time?
A / Becky and I do pretty well most of the year with vacations and down time, but there are those months when the jobs are so good that you can’t say no and work takes over our lives until the balance returns.
Q / How do you keep yourself organized with all the projects you have going on?
A / Lists are imperative, really the only way things get handled well. Beck and I also have a lovely and qualified staff of people that care and are committed to helping keep us organized and focused on creating.
Q / What is something you are good at? Something you struggle with?
A / I’m good at tasteful exploratory design. I struggle with being a leader. I have a quiet voice and a lot of love so being tough does not come naturally.
Q / Is there anything you will never take seriously in terms of your work?
A / Taking corporate structure and culture seriously is a major challenge.
Q / Where do you go to be quiet and think?
A / This is the most important part of doing good work, creating space in your mind for creativity. I love backpacking in the Sierras, hiking in Rose Valley and all over the Sespe National Forest, afternoons in Ojai on our family orchard, and bike rides to the beach.
Q / How does your home influence the kind and quality of work you produce?
A / My home is a testing ground for a lot of our projects. We have a ceramics studio, front yard test garden, candle making operation in the kitchen…it’s a little out of hand.
Q / Where did you grow up and what led you to your current home. How would you say these places shaped your perception of work?
A / I grew up in Palo Alto, which has changed a lot since I left. Palo Alto used to be a humble, left-over hippie, radical intellectual community with plenty of innovation and not as much wealth. That environment completely shaped my current perception of work, a place where nerdy collaborative energy was everywhere.
Q / What is your first memory of work?
A / My first job was at the neighborhood florist. I remember my boss squeezing my arm and asking if I was strong enough. Being a rebellious, indignant teen I took this act as a challenge and never quit.
Q / Do you keep any collections? If so, how do they influence you creatively?
A / I have a collection of Nemadji and Oaxacan Mexican pottery from the 40s, Japanese fans from my grandma, seeds and pods from my garden, and birds nests from our orchard. I’m always looking for influences that capture this ideal that is hard to pin down but employs a mastery of craft that also allows for the disorder of natural elements. This ideal completely inspires me.
Q / How would you define beauty and what part does it play in your work?
A / Beauty is often about context. What goes with what. We love to create combinations that haven’t existed before and find our inspiration in different media.
Q / Does social media factor into your work at all? Is there anything you find problematic about it?
A / Somewhat, we post irregularly and have a modest following. I’m an introvert so it’s hard to have an honest voice when I find it uncomfortable promoting our work. I also feel that looking at Pinterest with brides and following other florists on Instagram inhibits true creativity. We are always trying to be doing something different rather than responding to what is popular online.
Q / Do you use the internet on vacation or do you prefer to completely disconnect?
A / Definitely disconnect. Finding places without internet access and cars are my two most important factors in finding somewhere to unwind.
Q / Is there anything in particular that you do to take care of yourself and relax?
A / Exercise, reading the paper, meditating, and drinking champagne at The Mandrake with our crew.
Q / Was there any particular person who helped shape your career in formative way?
A / My partner Becky taught me how to get a better hold on the business and develop much needed structure. Our dearest friend Heather Taylor is a creative business owner and has given us years of inspiration and ideas about good business practices.
Q / How did your parents feel about your career path?
A / My parents are both hard working intellectuals that don’t fully grasp the creative world. They were never opposed but wanted me to become a scientist that did more to help society. I don’t anticipate they will ever fully connect with my work but that’s cool, they are still very proud of our achievements.
Q / What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The funniest?
A / I lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a summer and the only job I could find was as a security guard at a novelty shop watching their Betty Boop doll collection. (But really any job where I had to sit still was the worst.)
Q / What has been your proudest career moment thus far?
A / Beck and I built a beautiful studio with a garden filled with plants that we have carefully curated.
Q / What are you looking forward to this year?
A / Having a new website and finding new ways to host family, friends, and neighbors in our space.
Q / Lastly, ten of your favorite people, places, and things that we should discover too?
A / (From Holly & Becky)
1. The Petrified Forest National Park
2. Dave Chappelle on the radio
3. The artist J.B. Blunk
4. The artist Tim Hawkinsen
5. The Mandrake every other day
6. Huntington Gardens Camellia Festival
7. Foraging in France with Falcons
8. Bjorn Borg
9. Waylon & Willie
10. Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs
Interview & Photography
Courtesy of Hollyflora