Fort Langley-based florist doesn’t have to stop to smell the roses
By Miranda Victoria
Alice de Crom is often told by her clients that she is lucky to have her job.
Surrounded by beautiful floral arrangements in a brightly lit flower shop all day, many envy her time spent designing wedding bouquets and flower installations.
“A lot of people kind of have this perception of a flower shop being super relaxing,” said de Crom, 24, while taking a seat on a tall stool inside Floralista Flower Studio in Fort Langley.
“They say, ‘Oh it smells so good, it must be so nice to work with flowers all day.’
“But in reality, I’m waking up at 5 a.m. to go to the flower auction. I work all day long, I work really late nights. It’s hard work. The fraction spent actually designing flowers is only 10 per cent. The rest of the time you’re sweeping, and there’s the whole management and administration side where you’re making quotes.
“I knew it was going to be a lot of work when I started, but it’s a lot of work.”
Since opening Floralista in 2012, de Crom has been forging her name as one of the top florists in Metro Vancouver.
Using a style that’s “organic” and “garden inspired,” she’s part of a new generation of florists that make arrangements the natural, sustainable way.
“I don’t want to force flowers to do things they don’t want to do,” de Crom said.
“I feel that if you’re cramming flowers together it’s unnatural, when you should really be looking at the natural curve in their stems and follow those lines.
“We’re following trends as well, but that’s definitely what I like to create. Just using really unique textures and flowers. A lot of the flowers that I like to use have definitely more of a whimsical, garden vibe.”
Part of this style involves using local flowers, which are cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than importing varieties from the Netherlands or South America.
“It just makes sense,” de Crom said.
“A lot of girls see arrangements on Pinterest and tell me they want a wildflower bouquet. Well there isn’t this magical forest full of these wildflowers, you have to order them in. I have to import them from California. Something simple like mint or a geranium is coming from so far. It’s expensive, and by the time it gets here, it’s not in the best condition anyway. Meanwhile, we live in this amazing growing climate.”
To help combat this, de Crom recently started her own flower farm on a plot outside of Fort Langley, with the goal to one day supply 100 per cent of her arrangements from her own garden.
“It’s really big in Oregon and Washington. It’s called slow flowers, or #slowflowers. It’s because so many flowers are imported. That footprint of importing all these flowers from all over the world (is huge). Not only that, but it’s not always super ethical, either,” she said.
“That’s what really inspires me. I want to grow my own flowers, or use super local flower farms in the area. I’ve had so much local support being a small business, I want to do the same.”
When it comes to the floral designs themselves, de Crom says much of her inspiration comes from Instagram.
“There’s this huge floral community on Instagram and I’ve gotten to know a lot of them through Instagram, and now we’re friends. It’s kind of crazy that way,” she said.
“I just like seeing what this florist in New York is doing, or what this florist in Australia is doing, and seeing what products they are using. I need to get my hands on that, or that is such a cool product. There have been times where I’m going to create something like that, but it comes out completely different. That sparks my inspiration for sure.”
Having started in the industry at such a young age, de Crom says to blame her parents, who immersed her in plants through their commercial greenhouses.
“My parents really influenced me and I developed this love of flowers, nature and growing,” she said.
“It wasn’t until my (high school) grad when I was wearing a corsage and I was like, ‘Oh I bet I could make this, but better.’ But I never thought about being a florist. You don’t really hear about young people going into floral design, it’s typically flower shops with older ladies.”
After graduating high school, de Crom took some night classes at a studio in Kerrisdale, and worked at various flower shops in Vancouver. But only being paid minimum wage, and often stuck with the grunt work, de Crom soon realized that the only way she could be successful as a florist was to start her own business.
With the help of her mom, who purchased a live-work space for them in Fort Langley, de Crom opened Floralista with just a $500 cooler from Craigslist and a $150 cash register from Costco.
“We moved in December 10 and I opened the shop December 20. It was super quick, we had moving boxes out, and I literally had nothing in here,” she said.
“Christmas Eve I think I had 40 orders, and I was just not prepared at all. I was going into my supplier everyday saying ‘I need more, I need more.’ I was not expecting to have so many orders so soon. And it never stopped.”
De Crom has since been able to upgrade her equipment, and now has her own employees to help. She also continues to educate herself with different workshops from world-renowned florists. She’s travelled to New York, Portland, Washington State, South Carolina, and this November, will be going to Australia to help other florists.
“I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices and grow up pretty quickly because I’ve had so much responsibility,” she said.
“My friends are going out on a Friday night and I’m working all night long for a wedding the next day. But, I’m proud of myself. My mom is super proud of me, she’s a huge help.
“It’s so rewarding.”