Kelsie Hayes opened POPUPFLORIST earlier this year after six years as head designer at Beckley. Talk about a change of pace! She took a leap of faith after hosting pop-ups at friend’s shops she committed to a full-time space at the Gansevoort Market. Hayes’ resume is growing fast – she’s done events for Eva Chen, Tonya Hawkes, The Whitney, and Barneys. And while she’s not a trained florist, this allows her to be more creative in the floral design process without relying on more classic floral techniques. She also loves the adrenaline rush of designing on-site. She preps the day before with props and then buys the freshest flowers at the market in the morning. Hayes has a unique eye and this little bit of quirk always sets apart her work while simultaneously enhancing the clients’ branding signatures.
What were you doing before opening POPUPFLORIST earlier this year?
I’m a fashion designer by trade, so earlier this year I was forming my new consulting business, and figuring out what my move would be!
What was your first floral design job?
I designed a line called Beckley for 6 years, and would do the florals for our events. I also did baby showers and parties for friends! I think my first actual gig was doing florals for a party at the Stuart Weitzman Madison Ave. store.
When did you know you wanted to/were ready to make this your full time gig?
I created an Instagram for POPUPFLORIST in January, and decided to try out the concept at my friend Claire’s coffee shop, the Elk. I did a 3 day popup there over Valentines Day, and it was extremely well received. After that I decided that I should try to do more popups, and then I got an offer to open at the Gansevoort Market so things went from 0-100 very quick. I definitely think in life there are moments where you should just take a chance and do it, so even though I was apprehensive about going from the popup concept to having a full-time shop, I took the leap and did it!
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My aesthetic is kind of a mish-mash of everything. I love making beautiful arrangements and adding quirky details. All of my plants have googly eyes and my bouquet papers are stamped to say “flowers make people happy.” I love adding all of the personal touches to our offerings!
Pop Up Florist kind of came out of nowhere and everyone from Eva Chen to Leandra Medine are hiring you. To what do you attribute your sought after services?
I’m still surprised every day by the clients I get to work with, and feel so incredibly lucky. A lot of them are fashion heavy-hitters that I’ve looked up to for years, and getting to collaborate with them in a different way is really exciting. Instagram has definitely been my number one for getting jobs, but I also think the attention and personal touches we give our clients keeps them coming back. I look at each gig from a branding perspective, and try to take it one step further than just being a beautiful arrangement. At this stage, we’re still able to personally email with all of our customers- and that is something I want to be able to do whether we’re one store or 50 stores.
What is the hardest part of running a business based on seasonality of flowers available?
Since this is my first year doing this, I am at the flower market several times a week trying to learn what’s available locally and where everything comes from. I decided to forego flower school and learn on my feet instead. I also relay this to my customers, and they seem to really appreciate it. My lack of experience is what makes our arrangements so charming and interesting because I go off of color and texture instead of what’s meant to go together.
When a client hires you – what’s the first part of the planning and design process?
When I’m hired by a client, I either try to meet with them in person or jump on a call. They describe to me what their vision is and I put together an inspiration board for them to look at. This board can have anything from color inspiration to hand drawn sketches of packaging or set up. This gives both of us a visual idea of what the event will look like – and I reference this when I’m at the market selecting florals!
I’ve heard you like to design on set, day of – what’s this process like for you? Does it get stressful?
I try to prepare everything as much as I can for an event prior to and then bring in extra florals/props. When I’m setting up in the space- I usually get ideas of how to dress up other areas and I like to have the tools to do so. It definitely does get stressful, but it’s also an adrenaline rush!
What has been the most challenging, but rewarding job so far?
I just did the launch event for hello kitty x colour pop. Aside from florals, I also created the product display. The client really wanted hello kitty’s bow in roses to be the centerpiece. I had never done anything like this before, and working with live flowers means you have to prepare about an hour or two before. I definitely did not sleep that night, and prepared it at home. Once I got it there and propped it up and saw how it really tied everything together, I felt so proud and excited that I was able to execute it exactly how I envisioned it!
What is the easiest arrangement or plant to take care of?
When customers tell me they have a black thumb, I always suggest a cactus. They only need to be watered 1-2 times a month!
Seriously, what’s the secret to keeping an orchid alive?
Don’t over water! Most orchids only need to be watered once every 10 days. I tell my customers to put a reminder in their phone of when to water!