I’m thrilled to introduce you all to Amy Merrick. Chances are you already know her work. Amy’s floral designs and botanically-inspired shoots have graced the pages of major magazines, fashion blogs and have been featured on The Today Show.
I had the great fortune of working with the Amy last summer where we teamed up to offer a two day design workshop on our farm. As part of the experience we let over a dozen fellow flower fanatics loose to cut armloads of flowers, foliage, vines and unusual floral elements from Floret’s gardens and fields.
We then hauled our floral loot back to a bucolic 19th century farm house and barn where we let our creativity completely take over. Our little group worked together to construct ultra lush, nature-inspired designs as part of a romantic candlelit tablescape. The entire space was literally dripping with flowers, almost like a scene out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was unreal! It was an incredible collaboration and I’m delighted to have this opportunity to sit down and talk flowers again with this amazingly talented lady.
Erin: Amy, thanks for taking time to talk with me today and thanks again for the amazing opportunity to work with you last summer. Have you done much more teaching in the last year?
Amy: Wasn’t our workshop last year amazing? I think I learned as much or more than our students and really tried to spend the time since practicing all of those amazing lessons. The past year for me as been less about teaching and more about teaching myself and retraining the way I operate as a business woman. Mainly I’ve been trying lessen the burden of business and letting myself do what I love. I really feel like I streamlined my wedding business so much- hiring a delivery crew, having lots of talented help so I can release that worry valve. I have several workshops lined up for the fall now that I feel like I can teach the whole picture in a better way.
Erin: I’m curious to know how you got into this line of work. I’ve told my story about sweet peas being my gateway flower. Was there a particular flower that put a spell on you?
Amy: I remember as a little girl secretly cutting roses from my dad’s garden. We never had cut flowers in the house, so I felt immense guilt at cutting these beautiful things, but I just knew I needed them for my own. Big fluffy roses still make me wild.
Erin: You occasionally give lectures about your ideas on creativity to corporate clients. What are some of the topics you discuss — and is creativity something you can teach? How do you approach that topic? I’d love to get your perspective.
Amy: I think creativity comes in all forms, it isn’t just an aesthetic pursuit. While you can’t teach someone to be creative, you can definitely give them the inspiration to go out and seek it in their own life and sphere. In the same way a floral designer is obviously creative, so can an accountant or a lawyer be. It’s about breaking down your routine and dreaming up new ways of approaching job in a innovative, thoughtful way.
Erin: You started telling people last winter that you were going to ditch your studio in Brooklyn and move to California for the winter. I can’t say I blame you considering the brutal winter back east. And you did it! I’m thrilled you’re now on the west coast. How has your floral design work changed now that you’re in California?
Amy: Leaving New York, even if just for the winter, was the best and biggest decision I’ve made since starting my business. I was so worried I’d regret letting go of my big, beautiful studio- the kind of studio real estate dreams are made of! But the moment I closed the door, I never looked back. It was the most freeing moment! Since going to California and also spending time in Japan, I’m much more attracted to simple, more intentional feeling in flowers. The modern way of making wild arrangements has been a big jumble of a dozen of varieties (I’m so guilty of this as well!) but I see my work now shifting into something much more about the movement and shape of each single stem as it makes up the whole. Don’t get me started about my ikebana class in Japan, I cried as the teacher talked about his ethos even thought it was translated through 2 different translators!
Erin: And the question on everyone’s mind…are you putting down roots in California or will you be back in New York this season?
Amy: Hmmm, that’s TBD! I’m giving myself a huge 30th birthday present this year- the gift of freedom! I spent my whole 20s being extremely focused and living in a place I never felt connected, so I think I’ll spend the rest of the year on the road, both for fun and for work. The whole month of August I’ll be living in the San Juan islands on my dear friend and sometime assistant’s childhood farm- working with flowers and writing for some exciting upcoming projects. Thousand Flower Farm- I love you all!
Erin: Ok, as one of your 75,000 Instagram followers, I saw that you were recently in Japan to do some work— plus you had a pop up shop. Tell us more!
Amy: I was contacted by the Japanese clothing company United Bamboo to collaborate on some floral prints for their spring line of clothing. We went and had a pop-up shop to celebrate the launch, it was such a huge honor!
Erin: I was drooling at some of the photos you posted of the Tokyo flower auction and some of the flower farms you visited. Tell me about it…and please tell me you were able to get your hands on some of those enormous Japanese ranunculus!
Amy: Well, it was insane! There are several flower markets all around Toyko, and designers can purchase directly from the auctions held at each. Similarly to the San Francisco market, everything is held in a warehouse with a few dozen vendor stalls. The flowers are just beyond- the quality is so high, I didn’t see a bruised petal in the place. So many things we can’t buy as cuts in the states- every gorgeous kind of clematis, ranunculus and thigh high sweet peas. I felt like I was on drugs in there.
Erin: Speaking of Instagram, what are some of your favorite feeds you follow?
Amy: Hmmm, there are so many!
Phil at @aforalfrenzy is my favorite for flower gazing. His foraged flowers are my number one reason for wanting to visit Australia.
Mimi at @mimithor in France has the kind of life you just can’t even believe is real- all those beautiful children, terriers, chateaus and her delicious food.
Lily at @lilystockman for the best west coast vibes. Her Joshua Tree home makes me want to drop it all and go west again!
Erin: With all of the traveling you’ve been doing both nationally and internationally have you seen any new trends in the floral industry? What is your vision for the future? Any particular flowers or design styles you’re hoping to see more or less of?
Amy: I love seeing the resurgence of wildness that started with Ariella Chezar go through Brooklyn and spread like wildfire through the world! It feels like that progressive movement is beginning to be the new norm, which is great! That softness and romance will always have my heart and if people continue to create that “wildflower” look into using local materials- all the better! I think the industry has you to thank in large part for the famer florist movement, so a big round of applause is due to you for your general flower badassery!
Amy: In terms of actual trends, I’d love to see that same wild look pushed to a new place. Less of a flower jumble, because really, flowers don’t look like that in nature! They are pretty good about spacing themselves so each bloom speaks on it’s own, no cramming each other. I’m ready to experiment with shapes other than the “high on one side, low on the other” look- there must be another way! I could write about flower arrangement theory all day. Also, bravo to the frontrunners of the lily and mum trend! I can’t wait watch other designers discover new ways of working with often maligned varieties.
Erin: It has been such a treat catching up with you. I admire your work so much and am still so grateful we had the opportunity to collaborate last year and do hope we can figure out a way to work together again. Amy, thank you again for your time today and thank you for your continued commitment to promoting local flowers through your beautiful work. You’re such an inspiration!
Amy: Thank you, Erin! Your farm and family are my gold standard for perseverance and hard work, not to mention a flower valhalla for florists all around the world. I am a more confident, more efficient and more creative businesswoman because of the time we’ve spent together! Love and light in flower solidarity.