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Monday, March, 31, 2014  |  Floral & Event Designers
Meet Nancy Teasley of Oak & The Owl
Happy Monday Guys, thanks so much for stopping by the cafe and we are starting the week with our "Meet the Designer" series...say hello to the oh-so-beautiful and talented Nancy Teasley of Oak & The Owl!  I'm so excited to have Nancy join us today, her floral designs are ALWAYS so beautiful and I enjoy following her on INSTAGRAM to see what she's up to on a daily. Now get ready for some serious "floral love" as Nany shares a little bit of her world with us...Enjoy!!

From Nancy....."I mainly service all of Southern CA, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, but will happily travel anywhere for the right job. I love doing weddings in the Bay Area as my good friends are there, who are all designers and will sometimes work with me, and I get to have a little friend’s vacation while I’m working.  I’m also starting a new endeavor of a garden rose farm. I’ve started an IG account for it at @ellarosefarm. I haven’t taken the same care with the launch of this as I did with Oak & the Owl and I might regret it.

The reason I’ve been talking about it is because it’s such a long and drawn out process. If I kept it under wraps until I was ready to go to market, I’d be working for the next two years and not talking to anyone about it. So, if you want to watch the process of the land getting ready, the flowers going into the ground, and seeing our successes and failures, follow along. It should at least be fun, and those who want to do something similar can learn from what I’m currently learning every day."

Nancy Teasley of Oak & The Owl

TBC: What’s a typical day like for you?


NT:  It really depends. A day in the office vs. a day in the studio vs. a day sourcing are all so different – which is something I love about my job. When I’m in the office too much I can’t wait to get in the studio, and vice versa. But a typical non marketing studio day starts with getting my son to school by 8:30. Then I’m in the studio all day non-stop until I pick him up at 3:30. Once we get home I work until 6:30-7:00 while he plays, then I get him dinner, bathed, to bed by 8:30, and if needed I’ll be back in the studio until 10:00 pm. A market day starts at 2:45 am, back home to get my son to school, and then I’ll work the same hours. It’s a long and exhausting job, which makes the seasonality aspect of it nice.


TBC:  Describe your client?

NT:  My typical client is a stylish and laid back bride. She knows what she wants, comes to me for my style, and enjoys collaborating on the end product. Whether I’m designing their flowers only, or helping with the overall design, I prefer having a friendly and collaborative relationship with my brides. I know I’ve done my job well when I have a continued relationship after the event. I love that many of my brides have become my friends.


TBC:  What was your “Ah Ha” moment…the moment that you knew being a floral designer was your passion!

NT:  I’ve been obsessed with flowers since I was very small. My nickname given to me by my father was “flower child”. I was getting in trouble from neighbors when I was a tiny tot for picking their blooms. I started working professionally with flowers when I was 19 and I’ve been hooked ever since. I was taught in a very kind and nurturing environment. My bosses really looked out for us and the employees were each others biggest cheerleaders. There really was no ego, just a desire to see each other do their best and learn from our constant trial and error. I was immersed in flowers for so long from 19-25, I thought I needed to pursue something different, but of course I ended back to flowers. It’s as though once it gets in your blood, you can’t give it up.

TBC:  What wedding trend would you like to see disappear?

NT:  Honestly, to each their own. I’m not going to begrudge something that makes someone passionate. I would like there to be more freedom for designers to do their thing. To not be held tight to an image a bride has seen on a wedding blog or pinterest. I think if brides come with inspiration and trust their designer to put their own spin on it, everyone will be happy.


TBC:  Where do you find inspiration?

NT:  Everywhere. Having so many different art and design backgrounds and jobs taught me there is beauty in just about everything. Architecture is huge for me, furniture design, anything interior based, and just watching how things grow in nature, on their own, with no training. That has helped inform my work, whether it’s in floral design, or any other project I’m working on. 
 

TBC:  Name one of your favorite “vendor” sources that you just can’t do without.

NT:  That’s hard… I use Jamali a lot but really wish they’d open a SoCal store so the shipping didn’t kill me. How’s that for selfish? But I think having a location on both coasts would be good for everyone, right? 
 


TBC:  Describe your design style.

NT:  Feminine, lush, organic but with some restraint, romantic.
 

TBC:  To date, what has been the highlight of your career?

NT:  Ahh, that’s hard too. I’ve tried to have my own business several times. Most of them in floral design, but I wasn’t quite ready before. So when I finally opened Oak & the Owl, and had a business under a name other than my own, it felt really big to me. I was very conscientious of not starting Oak & the Owl until all my eggs were in a row, I wanted everything to be done right, the first time. So the launch of that has been my highlight.

TBC:  What was your “big break”?

NT:  My big break was probably having my peach bouquets on The Wedding Chicks. I think that’s where a lot of industry people found out about my business, as well as brides contacting me.


TBC:  What advice would you give to upcoming floral designers?

NT:  I’ve found that a lot of people wanting to get into floral design, specifically event florals, don’t understand the long hours and physical labor of the job. It is not for the weak. It is grueling, both physically and mentally. My best advice for those who have contacted me is if you’re just starting with design, you have to design over and over and over. It’s one thing to make one pretty arrangement, a totally different thing to make 20+ of those, all within a tight timeframe. I started in a shop where I worked at least 30 hours a week and along with the dirty side of the job, I designed constantly.

You need to have an ease when working with flowers, but you also need to know the nature of flowers, what they need, when they need it. It’s not easy. If you want to get into events, work for someone who does it. See what it’s really like. An event install is a completely different beast than a studio day. You might have to walk 20 arrangements, one by one, a 1/8 of a mile in 90 degree heat to their tables. And that’s after you’ve been up since 4am finishing up the last of the studio work. Until you’ve seen what it takes, and know first hand you’re capable of doing it, you should work for someone. It’s a lot less pressure, and you can watch someone who’s been doing it for years, which is priceless.


TBC:  When I’m designing, I love to light my candles and play “old school” music. Do you have a ritual that you like to do when designing?

NT
I have music or NPR on pretty much the whole time. I work by myself, which gets lonely, but the music and fun programs like This American Life keep me going. And when it’s time to make the bridal bouquet, I will skip past songs until I find the one that fits my mood the best. If it’s the wrong song, I seriously struggle with the bouquet. I also kindly tell my family to please let me be until I’m done. It’s the one time I can get kind of testy, especially with whining from my cutie pie.


TBC:  What’s your favorite part about weddings when it comes to the florals?

NT:  I really love install days. They’re insane and hard, but they’re so gratifying. I love seeing it all come together, to be able to finally breathe a sigh of relief that everything made it, it looks good, and I’m done for the week. It’s also the time I’m working with my friends so it’s fun for me.


TBC:  Finish this statement: A bride’s bouquet should reflect……

NT
Her personality, her style, and if done right, have an emotional quality to it. That’s something I strive for, but it’s not easy. There are other designers whose bouquets make me emotional just looking at them



TBC:  Describe a “wedding weekend and how many additional staff do you hire?

NT:  Depending on how big the wedding is, I’ll typically have 1-2 people with me. I’m kind of a loner with this. I had my good friends in the Bay that I was really comfortable working with, and have been searching for that here. If I have one other solid designer and a second person to help with extras, I’m typically good to go. 
 

TBC:  If you had to make a career change, what would you do?

NT:  I would really like my business to have a large interiors side to it. I miss working on interiors and I would go back to that, although I want to work for myself. And that is harder in ID than it is in florals. But if I were to go back to the beginning and make a change? If I knew myself like I do now, I would have gone straight to architecture in undergrad.



TBC:  Describe your personal style…what are your favorite stores to shop at?Personal as in your fashion style or your home.

NT:  Oh man… Since becoming a mom and a full time florist, far away from friends and a social life, my personal style has kind of tanked. Ha. It will come back, when I have the money and time to care about it. For now my main concern is comfort, and being able to do all the things this job and a very active 4 yr old boy, who loves to run and be physical, can handle. So lots of dresses with leggings, jeans and t-shirts, things that can get dirty and be easily washed – The Gap, Banana, H&M, etc. When you’re climbing ladders, digging holes, playing soccer, or running with a new puppy and little boy, you need to make sure your clothes work with you, and not against. I’m sure my 25 yr old self would look at my wardrobe and shake her head, but that’s alright. My life is full of other things right now. 

My house is something I work on a lot though, and it being nice is very important to me. So for that, I’d say my style is classic with clean lines, lots of blue-greens, feminine, with an obvious love for antiques and handmade details. I shop at antique stores for most of my décor, Target and Home Goods are always good for different little pieces and candles. My parents have kept furniture from many past generations, and along with their own passion for antiques, there’s a lot to work with just within our own homes.
 
I have a lot of my maternal grandmother’s furniture. I was very close to her and I love that my bedroom furniture was hers as a little girl. My dining table was the first she and my grandpa bought when they were married. I cherish having her so close.


Just for fun:

TBC:  Do you prefer tea or coffee?

NT:  Coffee. Strong dark coffee with caramel.  

TBC:  Do you prefer blogs or magazines?

NT:  Blogs. It makes me mad to buy a magazine that is 80% advertisements. I know they have to do it, I just don’t want to leaf through them.  

TBC:  Favorite musical artist?

NT:  SO hard, I like such a mix. Kanye West (I can hear the collective sigh of disappointment, but I wear my KW pin proudly – I make my best bouquets to him. Lol.), Ben Harper, Michael Frante & Spearhead, Aloe Blacc, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Digable Planets, Florence & The Machine, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, The Be Good Tanyas, The Civil Wars. Etc., it really can go on and on. My main passion music wise has been old soul and funk, Bill Withers, bluegrass, and a lot of Arrested Development. I kept trying to bring them back, but no one was jumping on that bandwagon. 

TBC:  And, I have to ask…what’s your favorite flower?

NT
Garden Roses, Parrot & Fringe Tulips, Peonies with a bending neck. And then every other flower I have in my studio that I ooh and ahh over. I regularly talk to my flowers, non flower people think I’m nuts when they’re around me. Even my flower friends are always laughing at me.



Nancy, thank you SO much for stopping by the cafe today...this was such a treat...we love your work and we look forward to your next visit....guys, head over to Oak  & The Owl to see so much more of Nancy's gorgeous floral designs...and Nancy, we wish you an AMAZING 2014 wedding season....xoxoxo

Photo Credits

Nancy's image captured by Kamee June Photography

Floral Images:

Image #1:  Hannah Suh

Image #2:  Michelle Beckwith

Images #'s 3-4:  Josh Gruetzmacher

Images #'s 5-6:  Desi Baytan

Images #'s 7-8:  Lane Ditto

Images #'s 9-15:  Tonya Joy


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