Written by: Sierra Breeden and Rachel Wurzburger
As you probably already know, here at Chella we are all about sustainability, clean ingredients, and caring for ourselves & the planet. And because of that, we want you to meet Kimberly Delgado, (Founder of Mary Stuart Flowers). Kimberly is a self-taught special events florist who found a lot of inspiration in her grandmother’s work. Her grandmother grew her own flowers and Kimberly started watching her win awards at the Boston Flower Show.
Kimberly found her own passion as a florist and is continuously working to find ways to work sustainably and eco-friendly. She is a mom of 4 kids and works from home. She wants other women to feel encouraged and allowed to do something else that brings them joy. She mentioned that women need to find their seat at the table and take up space. They need to say “this is what brings me joy, this is what I’m going to do”. By operating this way, Kimberly attracted a group of strong, talented, empowered women into her life.
“Go for it if you’re someone who’s thinking that there’s something more for you. Go get it!.”
Her eye-catching, unique arrangements have caught the attention of people all over, showing how sustainability and seasonality can level up any special occasion. We had the joy of chatting with Kimberly where shared with us her efforts in becoming more friendly towards the environment.
Kimberly became aware of more sustainable practices during the pandemic. She was making flower arrangements to help the people in her life feel better. She started a perennial garden two years ago when she decided she wanted to grow her own annual garden as it would save her money while creating the arrangements. From there, she connected with a community of people who also grow their own flowers and then was introduced to the Connecticut Flower Collective. “Once you’re involved with a bunch of flower farmers, you realize that this industry needs to be sustainable. People in the community are very kind, and helpful, and it's a mostly female-driven industry. A very nurturing environment where everyone is willing to share about sustainability, seasonal flowers, slow flowers”. At the moment, Kimberly’s favorite flower is a butterfly ranunculus as it brings movement, personality, and romance to an arrangement.
She also said, “I will definitely have a different answer in the summer”! If she were to make a bouquet right now she said it would be tulips, butterfly ranunculus, amaryllis, and maybe sweet peas. “Each flower brings something different and provides a certain shape to the bouquet that makes it more interesting”.
A widely used new product in the 50’s was floral foam, which is what Kimberly's grandmother would use for her floral designs. Floral foam is the green, water-absorbing material that’s used to keep the arrangements in place. It is single-use plastic that was very practical at the time but is very harmful to the environment as it is not biodegradable. When it dries it’s toxic and it's carcinogenic. But good news! There's been a big movement over the last decade to find alternatives to floral foam. Using things like reusable water tubes are much better for the environment. This makes floristry more sustainable as it's one of the most wasteful industries.
Waste is something that bothers Kimberly. Like us, she believes that the materials used in floristry need to be compostable and not just thrown away. She started off using floral frogs and chicken wire which are reusable. These methods can be time-consuming, but are well worth it. Brides are becoming much more aware of this much like they are becoming aware of clean beauty & a clean lifestyle. YAY!
During the growing season, Kimberly sources all of her flowers locally in the tri-state area. The flower farms she supports are part of a collective in which they do not use pesticides - “the flowers are more environmentally friendly and they are more beautiful because they are not mass-produced or treated with chemicals”. Unfortunately, this isn't industry-standard quite yet, but we are moving towards it!
Weddings are Kimberly’s favorite event to work on. She LOVES making a bridal bouquet. She enjoys giving the bride the creativity to pick and choose what she finds beautiful. “When you’re making a bouquet you feel crazy. One small move and the whole bouquet is thrown off. It takes insane attention to detail and perseverance to stick it out.” Once she is finished she hands it over to the bride and her vision comes to life. It is truly an art form and she adds a personal touch to every bouquet. Her favorite part of her job is seeing the bride’s face as she hands off the arrangement - realizing for the first time that her vision is not just in her mind anymore, it's in front of her. And the feeling is even better if she uses her own flowers because she was there from start to finish. From when she planted the seeds to them being part of a full bouquet. She loves making flowers for celebrations because flowers bring happiness on their own. When they are brought to a celebration they bring life to the event. “It is the crescendo of what you’ve been working on for over a year of planning”.
Kimberly’s Advice to Brides on Choosing the Right Flowers
She says the first thing to do is decide how you want to feel on that day. If you want to feel strong and have a big presence, lean towards bright colors. For an ethereal or more romantic vibe, go for white. The celebratory vibe would be maybe pink and yellow. She advises coming in with a color palette and to always remember seasonality. If you're a bride, you're going to be standing at a moment in time and you want your flowers to complement your surroundings. It creates a more peaceful image and allows you to be a part of the day and space when your flowers match your surroundings in your photos.
Kimberly’s Advice to Aspiring Florists
“Be a squeaky wheel”. Kimberly was not afraid to call up and talk to people she admired. She says working with them, seeing what works, and asking questions are so important to learning! Getting tips, putting your hand up, and saying, “I’m new” to the people in the industry will help you get your foot in the door. And always remember, don’t compare your work to others, and be true to what you find beautiful. “Let your hands place the flowers where you want to, if it's pleasing to you it will be to someone else no doubt. It's very vulnerable to give people what you think is beautiful. Do what comes naturally to you”.
And of course, we can’t forget to share Kimberly’s favorite Chella product with you! She told us she plucked her eyebrows super thin in the 90’s and they just recently grew back. She LOVES using our brow pencil because of its precision and the way it applies sooo naturally, yet fills out her brows completely.