Meet The Family
Erin is Floret’s founder, and is honored to be considered one of the nation’s leading “farmer-florists”—a term she has helped popularize to describe those skilled at both flower farming and floral design—and her exuberance for seasonal flowers has helped inspire a new crop of beginning farmer-florists. Known for her lush, airy, romantic designs, Erin is drawn to old fashioned blooms and is consistently pushing the limits of what can be used in arrangements which led to her winning the Martha Stewart American Made award for Floral and Event Design.
A researcher at heart, Erin conducts extensive field trials of a wide selection of flowers and foliage, including many varieties that are highly fragrant, delicate, and not commonly available in the trade. She shares her trial results along with secrets to small scale, high intensity flower production and design techniques through social media as well as during multi-day workshops that attract farmers, designers, and enthusiasts from around the globe.
Erin’s work has been featured widely in numerous books, magazines, and websites and her first book on flower growing and floral design will be published by Chronicle Books in early 2017. A believer in fairies, Erin’s other dream job is to become a midwife, and of all blooms, she loves sweet peas the most.
Chris Benzakein is the heart of our operation. He oversees all of the field production, greenhouse construction, soil work, irrigation and delivery. He is almost always the one behind the lens, capturing our beautiful flower-filled story. Chris is full of encouragement and is the rock that underpins our family. He has an amazing work ethic, is great at finding the silver lining of any situation and can literally fix anything.
Elora tends a modest flock of bantam chickens, a clutter of sweet rescue cats and many, many tanks of local pond creatures. She dreams of becoming a veterinarian and traveling the world. She happily assists with bouquet making, flower bunching, and packaging.
Jasper is passionate about fish, water insects, coding, and farming. He has grown a vegetable garden since the age of four and loves to feed his family. An amazing helper, he regularly works with Chris on construction projects, compost making, and irrigation.
Our Extended Family
Jill is lovingly referred to as the ‘switchboard operator’ and oversees client and vendor relations, workshop coordination and registration, writing projects, and product development. Jill has a background in creative writing, event planning, and floral design and was the first florist to buy flowers as Floret was just getting started. She types and makes boutonnieres at the speed of light, and has never met a garden rose she didn’t like. Jill is mama to two adorable young kiddos and lives in Bellingham.
Susan Studer King
Susan is our in-house journalist and multi-tasker extraordinaire. She manages the Floret newsletter and blog, our popular Farmer and the Florist interview series, puts together story pitches, assists with nearly all of Floret’s content creation and keeps everything flowing smoothly behind the scenes. A lover of peonies, Susan lives with her family in Ohio where she and her mother operate Buckeye Blooms, a small flower farm and wedding design studio.
Jill aka ‘Angel Jill’ is the watchful eye that keeps everything running smoothly and peacefully on the farm. She makes sure seeds are sown on time, that all the baby plants are watered and weeded, and that nothing falls through the cracks. She brings a serious dose of “can do” attitude to any project and restores harmony and order to everything she touches. She is truly the guardian angel of our farm.
As a CrossFit coach, Marlee is literally the muscle on the farm. With a varied job description, Marlee brings enthusiasm and energy to everything she does. She manages Floret’s online shop, handles vendor relations, oversees seed packing, and is our onsite coordinator during workshops. Her favorite flower is Celosia because it reminds her of a coral reef. What Marlee loves most about flowers is seeing the joy they bring to people.
A former flower farmer in Skagit Valley, Nina now lives just outside of Burlington, Vermont. Nina flies back to assist with each Floret workshop to act as our hostess extraordinaire. Nina is a true mama bear, and provides reassurance to workshop attendees and gives the very best hugs. Nina makes a mean apple crisp, loves all flowers and has an especially soft spot for dahlias.
With a background in office administration, Meg keeps everything tidy and organized on the home front. She’s extremely hardworking, a master at beautifying spaces and will fearlessly tackle even the most daunting project. Her favorite flower is phlox and when’s she’s not working her tail off, you can often find her country dancing, antiquing, or spending time with her family.