Today, as part of my Florist Friday blog post series, I’m delighted to feature an interview with Holly Heider Chapple of Holly Heider Chapple Flowers. Holly is co-hosting the upcoming Chapel Designers Conference in London in April.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
I would most certainly say that I’m a product of my environment. My grandmother was an avid gardener and my parents operated a landscaping firm, in addition to a garden center. I spent my summers watering plants, growing mums and selling produce. My family had clearly planted a seed, a seed that I had no idea would begin to grow and bloom over the years. ??My husband and I ended up on a lovely rural property with established gardens.
I began designing for a community flower and garden festival and before long, people started asking me to do weddings. I took this opportunity as a chance to stay at home with my growing family. Today, my husband and I have seven children and an extensive floral and design studio. Our gardens and our ever-increasing wedding business are what have allowed me to be at home with the children.
Could you tell us how your floristry career has progressed?
For many years, I designed whatever my brides asked me to design. They would bring me cut-out pictures of designs they found in magazines, and I would recreate whatever look they desired. I equate the designs from this period of my career as similar to working on an assembly line. It wouldn’t be long, however, until social media set me free. With the never-ending stream of images and inspiration, I found I was free to learn more and free to create for creation’s sake.
I began designing for photoshoots, as well as for my personal blog, The Full Bouquet. As a result, my designs became more original and unique to me. Soon, I found that brides were coming to me and asking for my specific designs. This was a huge change for me. As my name and reputation grew, other designers began asking for my guidance and support. Now, many years later, we have brides who are devoted to our ‘hollyish’ aesthetic. Additionally, we mentor, inspire and collaborate with designers from all over the world.
When did you start your business and where are you based?
Our business began 23 years ago, from our home. We’re still home-based and our business has become an official agricultural business within the state of Virginia. We have two studio spaces and two large walk-in coolers, plus a prop barn.
Our location, in rural Loudoun County, Virginia, is just outside of Washington DC. With rolling green hills, a full-seasonal spectrum of color and the majesty of the mountains in the distance, Loudoun County is beautifully situated for a variety of luscious weddings and myriad events. I find it incredibly inspirational.
What kind of floristry services do you offer there?
Our studio focuses on weddings and special events. In addition, we offer floral design workshops that cater to professionals in the floral design industry.
Could you tell us about The Chapel Designers and the conference you’re holding in London in April?
The Chapel Designers began five years ago, via Twitter. I casually asked whether anyone would like to meet me in NYC. I thought it was possible that some of the designers I was speaking with regularly on social media might respond. Much to my surprise, complete strangers began commenting on my feed, responding that they would meet me in NYC. Quickly, I realized that I was onto something amazing.
Unbeknownst to my husband, I secured a hotel block with our personal credit card and simply believed people would come. ??Next, I went to David Beahm and asked for help. David is a very dear friend and he helped me produce that inaugural Chapel Designers event, five years ago.
Through the years, the group has grown to nearly 200 members strong. The organization is based on the relationships we create and our commitment to those relationships. We stay connected daily via our online forum. Continual communication strengthens our bond. ??Last year, Nick Priestly from Mood Flowers joined us in NYC. Even before his fateful journey to NYC, Nick told me that he had planned to have me in London.
My faith in Nick and in the Chapel Designers makes this transatlantic adventure a natural leap. We’re hosting the London event just like we host our NYC conference. But obviously with a slightly British twist. We have fabulous speakers with different styles and abilities. And we will touch on all aspects and concerns of running a successful studio business.
Our goal is to bring our insightful network of support to other designers in the world who are suffering all alone in their studios late and into the middle of the night. We want to lift others up, and in doing so, we believe that we are building this industry up to greater heights of success.
What is your favorite flower? ?
I truly don’t like to pick favorites amongst all of my beautiful flowers, but I have a sentimental fondness for lilac. My business originally began by selling lilac at our town flower and garden show. I also love, love, love, foliages, scented geranium, nandina and different vines.
Thank you so much to Holly for all her help in compiling today’s blog post. If you’d like to see more of her stunning designs, do pop over to the Holly Heider Chapple Flowers website! Social media wise, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
(Images : Holly Heider Chapple)