My very first day interning at Starbright Floral Design – Nic, the owner, basically said “see you tomorrow, grab some flowers on your way out!”
Nervous and totally thinking, “what is this test” I went to the cooler. A big cooler like the new one we have at Starbright is a large, walk-in, very cold, metal hut lined with shelves and filled with buckets after buckets of flowers.
So back on that day, the cooler which was half the size of the one that we’re now riding with was filled with literally every flower I could name and at least half as many again that I couldn’t. There were arrangements ready on the shelves, made for walk in clients in a hurry. They were all beautiful. To me, they were all works of art I couldn’t figure out how to replicate. No joke – I walked out with three cuts and raw hands – I’d destroyed a number of flowers and made a mess out of a couple things my supervisor had to fix. It just didn’t seem a fair trade to take one home.
After five awkward minutes of deliberation I remembered a succulent suspended in a glass on one of the shelves. The curiously shaped and dusty colored little cactus flower looking plant was growing roots. Succulents are not a flower. The little airplants, even the cut-off ones are alive – with a little effort and know-how it’s not hard to get them to grow roots.
I accepted the succulent and carried it home in paper bag – during a polar vortex. Figuring it was a goner, I put a couple of drops of water in a little glass chai cup and placed the succulent on top of it. Despite seeing a couple of the bottom lobes wither away after three weeks, I kept my fingers crossed. Fast forward to Valentine’s Day – a holiday crazy on it’s own right and extra special this past year in NYC for having occurred during a snow storm. Starbright’s stellar performance landed the shop on the cover and a great feature in the Society of American Florists industry periodical – Floral Management. I had made it into the shop every day, created a shocking number of arrangements in red vases, and was smiling the majority of the time. Sometime during that craziness – that’s when the succulent sprouted it’s roots.
A couple weeks later, I gave it a new home. It sits there in my kitchen and reminds me to keep growing. Beginning a new career, making new business relationships – for me, their more like succulents than flowers. They aren’t flashy, but with patience and a couple adjustments, they grow and become vibrant.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Starbright sent out over a thousand arrangements to lucky lady’s all over the city. And during this busy holiday, Nic walks me to the door and says “It’s been awhile since you’ve taken home flowers”.
I didn’t hesitate to ask for a succulent.