We had the good fortune of connecting with Annie Kelley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Actually to keep my sanity! Context is so important here, as I began my business in 2020 during Covid. Like so many others, I was home with my kids and was trying to find a balance of keeping myself centered while guiding them through online learning. So I decided, in a way, to join them and go to school too! I trained virtually with one of the most prominent florists in the world, via their online school, and absolutely fell in love with floral design. I practiced constantly. Our house became a backdrop for every design you can imagine: tables capes, mantle designs, centerpieces… I even made a suspended floral installation for our family Christmas dinner. I sat next to my kids while they learned online and made boutonnieres. Once I completed my courses I knew I could design anything and was actually quite talented. I decided to make the next investment and get started with the business aspect of attracting clients and booking weddings.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think what sets me apart as a florist is that although I operate on a master level, I still seek out classes from other top florists so that I can continue learning. I am so proud of my training. I received it from Philippa Craddock, the florist who did Harry and Meghan’s (The Duke and Duchess of Sussex) Royal Wedding and you don’t get any better training than that. Yet I will never say, ‘oh, I know how to make that’ – and stick to a recipe. I am traveling to England next year to take classes from Brigitte Girling and will continue to learn from the greatest teachers in the industry because I like to push myself and know there’s always room for improvement – even at the top.
Overcoming challenges is such a critical part of being a florist, especially at events and weddings. The likelihood that something will go wrong – be it big or small – is all but guaranteed in our industry and so being able to think quickly on your feet and find clever solutions is very important. I keep a journal and after every wedding I write down all the lessons I learned, even if it is something small like “pack more snacks so the team has better energy.” Though the client is thrilled, I know that behind the scenes something could’ve been better and so I am careful to take note of lessons learned.
I realized quickly that a successful florist does not just create gorgeous designs, they also need to be able to manage a team and be financially savvy. I am a creative, so the business running and team management aspects of my business have not come as naturally to me. There have been difficult conversations with team members, hours of staring at screens, and generally a lot of humbling moments where I’ve had to learn skills that were a bit foreign to me. Honestly, the only part of what I do that comes easily to me is connecting with clients and creating designs – everything else is hard but that makes it worthwhile in its own unique way. I have learned to outsource my weaknesses so that I can focus on my strengths and I believe that leaves me primed to focus on creating the most phenomenal floral designs every single time I am hired.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Without a doubt, Vail, Colorado, is one of the best places to visit and I love taking my friends and family there. We always stay at the Sonnenalp Hotel, which at this point is a little home away from home for me. I’d kick off our week of fun with a spa day there, followed by biking around Lionshead and Vail Village. Then we’d go shopping at Gorsuch, Perch, Kemosabe and The Golden Bear. I would ‘wow’ them by taking them for the most fantastic and scenic martini at The Four Seasons bar, followed by dinner at the Mountain Standard. We’d spend time hiking Piney Lake and walking through the Betty Ford Gardens. When we returned to Boulder we’d walk and shop Pearl St., hike Chautauqua Trails and pop in to get a beverage at Frasca. Followed by a chill dinner at Basta. And of course we can’t forget Denver! I stumbled across The Milk Market there and the alleyway with the shops, hair salons (for men and women!) and endless restaurants with the speakeasy vibes is such a cool place to wander. Last but not least I would take my friend to the Denver Museum of Art – it truly is the place I go to when I need to recharge creatively (other than nature) – and have high tea at the Brown Palace which is so sophisticated, otherworldly and fun.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This business adventure would not be possible without a startlingly large amount of people.
You’re only as good as your team, and my floral team has been incredible. Stephanie, Lexie, Amanda & Sam – I’m so grateful for you.
To Julie and Dana, my best friends, who really got this ball rolling. They volunteered their kids to model flower crowns, took photos, ordered flowers and used their endless popularity to spread the word. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have dared to do this without their enthusiastic support.
My mother-in-law, Catherine Kelley… has backed this endeavor with all her heart and even flown out multiple times to help me execute perfect wedding flowers. At 73, she can still haul more buckets than me and climb a 20 ft ladder all day long. She’s amazing.
My protective mama, Robyn Webber, who prays, listens, advises and encourages…always. My brother John and his wife Bea, who watched my daughters at their house on wedding days because we couldn’t fit them in the car(!) and who were my first customers.
My girls, Emmeline (9) and Isobel (5) – who helped me condition flowers, always audibly gasped when they saw the final flower design and who make me feel like a superhero.
Last but not least, my husband, John, who is undoubtedly the world’s most patient and supportive man. He has encouraged me in every way, every step of the way. Despite having a thriving and busy medical career he sacrificed countless weekends to help me haul buckets, pack vehicles, load cars, unload cars and clean messes. He tells me daily he’s proud of me and it means the world.
James x Schulze Nate and Jenny Weddings Rachel B Photography Emily Elizabeth Photography