Editor Kendra Aronson here again! I’m back with my Q&A column showcasing florists that I highly admire in the field-to-vase movement. Today I am sitting down with Christine Hoffman of Foxglove Market & Studio—a cheerful gal with a beautiful aesthetic and strong shop vision based in Minnesota. Her work has been making headlines for years (and rightfully so!) because her enthusiasm for educating the Midwest about the local flower movement has been tremendous. We are so proud to have her on our editorial team as she is a true champion of spreading awareness of the local flower movement.
Cultivated by Christine Hoffman, Foxglove Market & Studio offers an inspired balance between flower shop, modern mercantile, and working studio. Local growers deliver buckets of fresh cuts while Christine replenishes her curated stock of party goods, useful home essentials, and Midwest salvage that feels as much at home in the country as in the city. From styling interiors to appointing tables, Foxglove Market’s thoughtful aesthetic emphasizes sustainability, utility, community, and comfort. Check out her previous posts on the Field to Vase blog: A Natural Path (January 2015), P Dubs in the House (April 2015), Styled Shoots: Benefits and Unexpected Joys (August 2015), and The Modern Florist (December 2015).
(1) What is your creative background? What sort of formal training do you have (if any)?
My creative background includes a wide variety of freelance design gigs—from retail merchandising to event design to a stint as a designer for HGTV. With no formal training, I would have to say that I just a natural instinct and eye for design. I have a degree in Latin, which is only of use for pronouncing Latin botanical names!
(2) How and when did you start your floral business?
It all started with a phone call from a colleague who thought I should open a “cool shop” next door to her. I was crazy enough to jump at the chance, and opened just 6 months later! The concept I came up with the day of the phone call included sourcing and selling locally-grown, chemical-free flowers. I honestly had no idea how to do that, or if anyone was growing locally, or if it was a viable offering. But, 2 ½ years later, it’s the largest segment of my business.
(3) Why was sourcing American grown flowers intentionally built into your business model? In other words, what are your beliefs/philosophy with using American grown flowers?
Largely, my first thoughts were based on aesthetics and my own gardening practices and beliefs about chemicals and pesticides. It just seemed to make sense that other people, like me, would appreciate an alternative to the usual choices out there. Seasonal style is central to my design aesthetic, and this naturally extends to using seasonal flowers and flora. To me, using local, in-season flowers creates a continuum with the outdoors, fostering a deeper engagement and understanding of the natural world. Learning to appreciate what is in season helps us live with intention and be mindful about our choices. As our buying habits adjust, we support local farmers, makers and businesses, and in turn, the whole community benefits.
(4) Where do your source your flowers? Do you have favorite growers?
I am currently sourcing from 5 flower farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I certainly could never pick a favorite. They each have their own strengths and variety of product, running the gamut of “pretty” flowers to herbs, greens, and foraged bits. It’s a pleasure to work so closely with them, and share ideas and feedback from year to year as we grow the demand for local flowers.
(5) What does it mean to you to be part of the local, seasonal, field-to-vase movement?
As the only Twin Cities source for all-local, chemical-free flowers, it means providing a lot of education about what I am doing and why I am doing it. Once people find out a little, they want to know more, so I am constantly striving to increase my educational materials, offer workshops, and speak about slow flowers. It also means seeking out growers and like-minded folks to grow the community locally. It is so exciting to see interest build as consumers find out more about flower sourcing, and as new farmers show interest in growing flora locally. On a larger scale, it’s exciting to be part of the national field-to-vase movement, to connect and learn from such an active and lovely group of professionals.
(6) What does a typical day in the life look like for you?
- Coffee and breakfast with my hubby
- Go to the gym or out for a walk
- Go into the shop to do paperwork or fill orders
- Open the shop for retail sales
- Quiet night at home unless I have a workshop or event set-up!
(7) What is the most exciting or challenging aspect about designing with seasonal flowers?One of my strengths is the ability to “make-do”, so I think I thrive on having limited resources and materials. I love the challenge! It’s also a thrill to broaden consumers horizons about what flowers look like and the variety of materials available locally at any time of the year.
(8) Who is your typical client/demographic that you cater to?
My retail clients are broad ranging, and that translates to my floral clients and workshop attendees as well. It’s rewarding and exciting to see a wide range of ages and a cross-section of men and women interested in what I am doing.
(9) What is one piece of advice you would have given your younger florist self when starting out?
Stick to your personal design style and values, and the right customers will find you.
(10) What types of gigs are your favorite and why? Events? Weddings? Restaurants? Styling for photoshoots? Workshops? Custom deliveries?
All of them! Seriously, I am having so much fun developing the flower business and constantly broadening my offerings. Photo shoots, events, and custom work all have great benefits and rewards, but workshops have been especially surprising. I was hesitant to teach at first, but I love it now. The really lovely part is that workshop attendees not only want to make something pretty, they are truly interested in learning about local flowers. It is also a pleasure to build relationships with the local food community—a natural pairing! Weddings have been a big surprise. I wasn’t sure if I would offer that service when I began, or have time to do it…but it is amazing to work with engaged couples who are looking for a local alternative. Bridal bouquets are, hands down, one of my favorite pieces to create and I am blown away by the level of trust my brides show in my work and the flowers I source.
Thanks so much Christine!