This year at True Grace Photography has been an exciting year for many reasons, one of which being the brick and mortar studio opened in August in downtown Batavia. Having this space has allowed for off-season projects and photo opportunities with some of my best pals in the wedding world (and the real world!).
This week is the start of the Friendor Features, a new series to this blog highlighting local Chicago area talent- from makeup artists to florists. No two vendors are alike, and all of them create work that complements the natural, fine art style that I love in photography. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I have enjoyed the process!
The first Friendor is girlboss Kim Stanke of Lombard, Illinois. She has been arranging flowers professionally for eleven years, and in 2013 launched local bespoke wedding floral business, Allium Floral Designs.
I invited Kim to come out to the studio one afternoon last week with some of her favorite seasonal picks and create a few arrangements to showcase her style. Kim is a vibrant person with a vivacious personality that flows easily into her work and leaves me inspired when I have the opportunity to photograph her arrangements.
One bloom you like better than a peony?
Kim: This is like asking me to choose a favorite child... (assuming here, since I have no real children of my own yet!) I always find myself drawn to more unique blooms, pincushions, ranunculus (hence why I brought them to this shoot), cymbidiums. I'm a sucker for texture and depth, I love a flower that causes people to ask, "what is this?".
Current #girlboss crush?
Kim: In all honesty, you [Grace]! When I walked away from our first coffee meeting, I knew you were someone I wanted to not only work with on a professional level, but also get to know beyond the lens. I always walk away from our get togethers with a euphoric high of renewed creativity and motivation to make awesome things happen. Thank you for your talent, your friendship, you inspire me to be a a stronger #girlboss and push me to be more creative.
3 words that best describe your floral style! Detailed. Fresh. Unique.
3 words that describe your ideal bride! Trusting. Open. Fun!
If you could cast the characters of Winnie the Pooh as flowers, who would be what and why?
Piglet is a Babylon carnation. Carnations are often under-estimated, they can be timid and blend in to an arrangement--almost ignored, like Piglet. But when the timing and application are right, carnations can sing louder than any other bloom. The color of the Babylon variety is a blend of a peachy/pinks, much like the variations of the character as interpreted from the books and the cartoons.
Pooh is a beehive protea- he's always after the honey pot, this flower is not only in the shape of a beehive, but also smells sweet like honey. Being a tropical, this flower when cut is quite resilient, much like our Pooh Bear.
Eeyore is a blue/purple mophead hydrangea. He's the droopy one of the group, he evokes a soft, gentle emotion and a certain kind of sadness. Though I don't find a perky hydrangea depressing, there is nothing more tear-jerking when they go kaput. Hydrangeas by nature require a lot of love and care (as does our buddy, Eeyore) to stay upright, and when they're sad, they droop. Oh, Bother!
Rabbit is a Queen Anne's Lace. Elegant and detailed, this flower has a dark reddish/black center and leaves that look like wild carrots. Rabbit was a strict and straight-laced gardener and always trying to keep pests out of his carrots.
What services do you offer at Allium?
Kim: We do it all, from the engagement party to the bridal shower, a few centerpieces for the rehearsal dinner, the big day and a follow up thank-you vase to parents after the big day. Wedding planning assistance, full set-up and delivery, pinning boutonnieres and day-of coordination.
When you're processing blooms and constructing the flowers for a wedding (a BIG time commitment!), do you listen to music/have a movie on in the background/total silence/mix of everything?
Kim: It depends, most of the time the silence is broken by music and chit chat [girl talk, really] amongst designers. I am lucky enough to have my parents' vinyl collections and a turntable, so there's no telling what you might hear if you stop by. Sometimes late at night, it's just me, the flowers, and the sounds of the studio... the cooler, the stems hitting the floor, my knife hitting the table.
Who is your biggest cheerleader?
Kim: This is a difficult question, I feel really blessed to be surrounded by so many supportive friends and family... If I had to sum it up... our clients. They're the whole reason we do what we do. They're the ones who say, "I trust you" to handle such a significant part of their big day. All of our customer base is referral, 100%. That in itself is a humbling statement. When we sign up to take on an event, it's never taken lightly. Allium wouldn't exist without our amazing clients. (We love you all!)
What other creative pursuits and hobbies do you enjoy?
Kim: I bought my first house almost 4 years ago... and the list of house projects still to do is quite long, so in my limited free time, I'm focusing my energy on the house, adding touches to make it a home.
Building things is a passion of mine, I come from a DIY family full of craftsmen, and took woodshop in high school so I enjoy trading my floral tools for power tools. I need to carve out more time to get back to sawdust piles at my feet instead of petals and stems.
Style Forecast: What flower do you think will be the most popular for 2016 weddings?
Kim: I'm sensing a shift from lavenders/purples and bolder colors to a more natural, ethereal feel. The last several consults I've had were for an Irish garden full of loosely gathered, fully blossomed blooms. As a foliage lover, I can't wait to execute these designs. I'm loving the minimalistic feel of these events, less is definitely more.
One thing that you wish all brides knew about finding the right florist for their wedding?
Kim: You're not choosing a florist for the flowers. You're choosing a florist for their personality and services. I caution all brides, "if we don't jive, don't book with us". We love all of our clients, but the ones we remember the most are those who trusted us to execute their visions, without handcuffing us. They book for our attention to detail and our service(s), knowing they wouldn't have to worry about anything on the actual day.
Floral is such an artistic medium that it's almost impossible to compare apples to apples. If you're shopping around for a quote, ask them each the same questions, and book with the vendor who's design style, personality, and services, best suit your needs. Price isn't everything, make sure you get along with with those you've hired to help you out on what is arguably one of the biggest, most remembered days of your life.