Opening a sustainable retail shop

Hi all, I've been busy.  I haven't been posting regularly because I've been working on opening up a retail shop in Berkeley!  I plan to keep you updated on the process and what opening a sustainable and eco-friendly retail shop entails.  So far, I have the location.  Now it's time for all the paint, furniture, fixtures, stock, etc. As if I'm not crazy enough, we're going to do it in two weeks.  I plan to have the shop open the first week of February.  I'll be selling local and organic flowers and plants, handmade recycled and sustainable gifts and eco-friendly cards. Our Grand Opening Party is February 4th from 6-9pm, come on down if you're in the bay area and check it out! In Green and Health, G&G

The Green details of a Green Wedding

More green in a Summer Wedding

Over the summer I worked with Meredith and Ben on their outside wedding at a local community center.  I just recently posted some great details of how they infused green and sustainable into their event on The Knot's Green Wedding Website.  Take a look:

green.weddings.com

Event and Floral design by Gorgeous and Green Events

Photography by Sean Donnelly Photography

 

In Green and Health, G&G

In-Between green posts

Some bouquet and centerpiece illustrations

I wasn't able to post earlier today and I have a feeling I'll be pretty busy tomorrow with the start of the SF Green Festival, so I'm doing an "in-between" post.  I promise I'll have some great green food for your soul next week. Here are some samples of illustrations I use with clients so they can see what flowers and ideas I want to use for their bouquets and boutonnieres, centerpieces, etc.  I like it because I can draw and email them my vision without having to waste flowers doing mock arrangements.  Another way I try to stay green with my business.

Michiko flowers ill

Floral decor for an Asian-inspired Wedding I did over the summer, if you follow my posts you  might recognize the real thing.

Meredith P sketches

Sketches from the centerpiece and bouquets for the Kensington Wedding over the summer.

Kelly bouquets and bouts

These are from the orange and brown wedding I did in September at the University Club.  I ended up not using callas, but a lot of dahlias and chocolate cosmos.

In Green and Health,

G&G

The Green Festival, San Francisco

Green Weddings and Green People in San Francisco

www.greenfestivals.org And no, we're not all eating granola.  I like granola like everyone else, but I definitely don't see myself as "granola" just because I live green or sustainable.  Besides, granola isn't a bad word these days.  It actually is pretty tasty, especially homemade.  Put it into a jar and you've got a great gift or "wedding favor" for your guests. Ok, so what will we be doing at this green festival?  Well lots of talking, sharing and looking at new ideas and guest speakers.  Check out the Schedule.  Online you can download a guide to the festival that gives you all the cool info.  It's huge and includes so many inspiring words, visuals and people.  Here are just a few of the highlights:
  • 450+ exhibitors and organizations in the Green Marketplace
  • 45 minutes presentations and speakers on the sustainable economy, ecological balance and social justice
  • how-to workshops in the Green Buiding Pavilion
  • Hemp fashion shows in the Hemp Pavilion
  • Music acts
  • Food Demonstrations in the Soul Kitchen
  • Green Social Media Demonstrations
  • Organic food and drink
  • Concerts and dance parties after dark:  greenbash.com
I'm actually going to be volunteering for the festival and donating some large sustainable arrangements (I'll post the photos this week).   I'll also be checking out new ideas I can use in my business and in my life (my husband wants to get a small wind turbine for our front yard... in Oakland)  and making connections with other green-minded folks.  One connection I've already made is going to be there, and I look forward to seeing their hemp silk bridal attire at a fashion show Friday and Saturday night.  They're called Conscious Clothing and you can check out there stuff here:  www.getconscious.com Here are some beautiful examples of the things they can do.  What I like, is that they do custom designs.

ruffle hemp silk wedding dressHere is the dress with all the layers, but you can unzip the last three and make it shorter.

IMG_3279

IMG_3295_1

low back hemp silk wedding dressI love the low back and silk ruffles of this dress.

IMG_3320

IMG_3316love it.

So if your in or around the Bay, definitely come check out the SF Green Festival this coming weekend.

In Green and Health,

G&G

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes

The work that goes into those lovely flowers...

Over the summer, things got so busy with green weddings for Gorgeous and Green Events, that I asked my good friend and fellow florist Danica from Heavenly Gift and Florist, to come and help. Here are some shots from that weekend, lots of beautiful and locally grown flowers and artistic talent crammed into my home studio.

IMG_1955

IMG_1957

IMG_1961

IMG_1966

IMG_1963

Thanks Danica for your help! In Green and Health, G&G

Vintage, Antique and Reused

Reusing Vintage Vases in Weddings and Events

I've started collecting vases for Gorgeous and Green customers interested in renting vintage collections of vases for their wedding or event.  It takes some time and dedication, but so far I have almost two collections ready to go and a couple in progress. Here is my current collection of white milk glass vases: milk glass reused

There are some really cool designs.  So far my favorite is the bubbled vase that actually doubles as a candle holder.

milk glass reused2 And my vintage green glass collection: green glass reused3

This collection is actually two-toned, a slightly brighter kelly green and a darker grass green.

green glass reused2

green glass reusedMy favorite is the long stemmed dish on the right, so delicate.

I have a huge collection of clear glass vases that I've been gathering from the last weddings I've done.  Although they aren't vintage, they will lower the price for customers and act as a truly sustainable way to add decor to their events.   I also just recently purchased some large vases that are made from recycled glass, which I plan to rent to customers.  Talk about a sustainable practice! Besides buying recycled and reused, I always go biodegradable.  Glass, rubber, wood or metal.  Never plastic.  It makes it a lot more difficult to find cool and updated styles on a budget.  But I hope by creating these vase collections, I can reduce the price for my customers by allowing them to rent. I've started a vintage red collection and a blue collection, but I'm finding it harder to get the really cool vase shapes in those colors.  Still looking... I hope to show you some pics when they're more complete. In green and reusability, G&G

A busy Summer of Sustainable Weddings

Weddings, Green Weddings!

Like most florists and wedding coordinators out there, I've been busy.  So busy, I haven't been keeping up on my blogs.  So sorry. But, I hope to have some wonderful pics from wedding photographers in the coming weeks to show you all that I've been up to.  First though, a sneak peak at a few of my concoctions. A few weeks ago I had a wonderfully organic wedding in Lafayette, Ca.  The bride trusted me to develop a plan for her day and we came up with a plan for collecting recycled cobalt blue vases for her centerpieces.  She wanted pink and since there was so much blue, I added a few touches of yellow, namely from some beautiful sunflowers that were in season. All her flowers came from local growers, and about 75% of them were organic.  Thankfully, a local grower had an abundance of rose colored mini callas.  So I used them wherever I could.  I must have had at least 2 dozen just in the bride's bouquet.  Take a look:

wedding flowers

And I added plenty of those callas in the bridemaid's bouquets as well.  I also added some orchids that yours truly had grown.  For some reason I have good luck with orchid plants.  Nock on a tree.

Steph and bridesmaids

I just had a lovely wedding in Kensington at the community center, and the bride was not a big fan of flowers.  She wanted fruits and vegetables instead.  So I worked some magic with some locally grown fruits and veggies and created some beautiful centerpieces.  Here are some mock centerpieces to give you an idea of what I did:

gg Veggie centerpiece

gg fruit centerpiece

I just love getting creative with what the local earth has to offer in it's abundance.  As you can see, it's dahlia season and I couldn't help but add some locally grown organic dahlias into the mix.

All the centerpieces I've been doing, whether flowers, veggies or branches have included some key elements of sustainability.  All the vases we used in these two wedding ended up getting reused, either in to my collection or into someone's home.  That feels so good!

In Green Weddings and Health,

G&G

A Garden Party Fundraiser for... Gardens!

Green Gala

a Garden Party at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens

Sunday, June 28th 2009 from 2-5pm   If you live in the Bay Area, and especially if you live in the East Bay, you should definitely come and check out the Green Gala at the UC Botanical Gardens in Berkeley for their garden party fundraiser on Sunday June 28th, 2009.  First off, the gardens are a lovely place and are beautifully located in the Berkeley hills.  There are hiking trails nearby and a lovely view of the Bay.  But most importantly, this event is a fundraiser that will be directly benefitting the gardens themselves.   GP09 Invitation Here is some information in the words of the Organizers themselves about the event:

The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley is pleased to announce our Garden Party Fundraiser green gala to be held on Sunday, June 28, 2009 from 2pm-5pm. This year’s fundraiser will highlight the critical work we do to educate the public on the truly amazing relationship between plants and people. We will present a fashion show of sustainable, local designs that will be held in our stunning Redwood Grove Amphitheater followed by festivities in the Garden. A bamboo garden structure and displays of wood and other fiber and dye plants included in the Garden’s acclaimed collection will be in the entrance. Guests will taste seasonal, organic and delicious creations from Devoted Catering by Amiee Alan. Enjoy live music and biodynamic wine from Quivira Vineyards. A silent auction of green and gorgeous items will help raise much needed funds to support the Garden’s living collections. 

And, guess who's providing some donated floral and design displays!  Yes, Gorgeous and Green is in charge of floral decor and design for the Redwood Grove, where the fashion show will take place.  I'm going to play on the natural elements of the gardens and on the lovely organic and sustainable designs of the clothing showcased in the show.  I may even include some recycled fabrics of my own... from my own sewing collection. It should be a fun and festive event.  I hope to see you there! I will of course, provide some pics of the designs I create, in case you can't make it.   G&G

Sustainable Floral Design: a definition

The Definition of Sustainable Floral Design  or,  Just Sustainable Design for that matter.

  If you haven't tuned in previously, you may not know that the reason I'm in this green floral and event business to begin with is because I myself was looking to plan an event sustainably.  And because there was so few resources at the time, I ended up learning a lot trying to work it out on my own. So now, almost 3 years after I started planning my first sustainable wedding, I am looking around and seeing a lot more green.  But, I'm not sure it's all what it's cracked up to be.  Something I've heard lately is: "green-washing".  The idea that with a few elements of eco-friendly products or some organic materials, a new product or service can be called "green".  Then people are tantalized by the words and regretfully miss that the product or service isn't altogether that green or sustainable.  Kind of like new condos, built to look like an old warehouse or loft with some recycled iron and bamboo floors.  It may look from the onset to be "green" but in reality, you may come to find out that virtually all housing developments are using recycled iron these days and the warehouse/loft look actually comes with a hefty heating and cooling bill to control all that extra air space.   So, I go into green floral design knowing that if I want to call myself truly green and sustainable, I better do the best job I can or else... Or else my conscience won't be able to take it.   And this leads me to the definition.  What exactly is sustainable floral design anyway?  Well, I couldn't find much talk about it, but I did find plenty that mentioned sustainable design and found some ideas I think fit the bill.  In an interview and story by David Carlson that was highlighted on Treehugger.com, designer Satyendra Pakhalé gives some thought to it.  He says "the best way to make sustainable design is to concentrate on quality, both concerning design and material. To produce better products. Mass consumption and sustainability doesn’t go very well together" and I agree.  Taking a look at floral and event design through this lens shows us that when we work on a smaller scale, when artesans, designers, growers, bakers, candy makers and printers are involved at the local and small business level, then we are working more sustainably.  But of course, this also means that those small businesses should also be getting their materials and services at the local level.  This can be hard to do, if not impossible.  What materials have solely been produced in your 50 mile radius?  Yes, those flowers were grown here but where did the seeds come from?  And what about the truck that delivered the flowers and what about the diesel that fired up the engine of the truck? Yes, it's difficult.  But it's not always impossible.  With information and education, consumers and businesses alike can learn more about where their stuff comes from and ask themselves, is it really needed?  What can I find that's locally produced that will do the job?  Will it cost me more in the long run to buy the well-made product, or the throw-away? And so I move toward a second point by the writer of this story highlighted on Treehugger.com and davidreport.com: David Carlson.  He says: "given the growing bounty of choices available to us all, it's more important than ever to simply think about our personal interactions with our stuff and where it comes from. It's not about sustainability for the sake of calling it "green"; it's about making meaningful connections with the things that surround us, and interacting with design and products accordingly."   And so, why not think of sustainable design and even sustainable floral design as the production of materials and services that are rendered with a full heart.  Taking ownership in the quality of the design, knowing the people who printed the cards and hence knowing that they do their best to use biodegradable inks and recycled paper.  Ordering the flowers from a local grower who can tell you how they grow their flowers and how they too hate pesticides.  Avoiding cheap materials that may provide ease, such as floral foam, styrofoam, or plastic and instead going with wire, recycled paper boxes, glass or metal and knowing that spending the extra money will add quality and longevity to the product.   A lesson I've learned in my own life about sustainability is that I can create my own replenishing world of food and flowers around me.  So, I've started growing my own vegetables, flowers, fruits and even some greens I can use in my floral designs.  It's taking time and some energy, but every time new growth shows it head or new flowers show me brilliant colors or when I get to harvest some vegetables from the earth, I remember why I do it.   gg-buddha-flowers Because the brilliant flowers I tossed in the kitchen, traveled 15 feet to get there and the green onions I tossed in that soup taste so great when you grow them yourself.   gg-garden It's almost as if we need to turn the clock back a few decades if not a few hundred years.  Go back to when you and I used to grow our own food.  When I had honey and you baked bread, and so we traded.  When the local dairy raised cows without hormones and fresh milk was delivered in the morning in glass bottles that were recycled for the next customer.  Let's remember what it was like to live simply.  When cars went 35 miles an hour and we thought that was so fast and made life so easy.  Going back to those times we realize that although technology born in the future can seem exciting and promising, it may not always offer the correct answers when it comes to living in the future.  In some ways, we had green and sustainable right the first time, when it was just called living. And so with design, I feel we need to follow a similar path.  And in these times of economic stress and strife, if we can't afford the full brigade of flowers, sit-down dinners for 200 and multiple carats on our fingers, maybe we should opt for the cheaper version.  That being the more simple but still well-made and sustainable version.     In Green, Health and Less Stress G&G www.gorgeousandgreenevents.com

Silk or Artificial Flowers are not the option

"Silk" or artificial flowers are NOT a

sustainable or eco-friendly option

artificial-flowers Now I remember when I used to help my aunt decorate for weddings, we used silk flowers (actually plastic, but we'll get into that in a second) for decorating because we could use them over and over again, and couple's could save money on their decorations.  That was back in the 80's, and I thought a lot had changed since then.  Apparently not. I have noticed in one too many art stores that there are large quantities and varieties of plastic flowers.  I have also noticed many brides and grooms desiring and talking about silk flowers on wedding chats and so forth.  It scares me.  Haven't we all been schooled in what's good for the environment?  At the very least, aren't people concerned about all that plastic that's going to sit in our landfills for years to come in the form of a colorful plastic gerber daisy? But then I remembered the name: "silk flowers".  Maybe it's throwing people off.  So, here's a little background to artificial flowers and how they got their silk name. Many years ago, in some cultures (in Asia and in Europe and eventually in the U.S.) it was considered a beautiful art form to recreate flowers out of artistic materials in such a way, that these fakes looked almost real.  Back in those days, they didn't have plastic.  They probably used natural materials: cottons, wool and most likely silk.  Some used clay, others used glass beads.  The list may go on, but the point is, they didn't use plastic.  And, it was all biodegradable.  Some of the paints or dyes, may have been slightly toxic, as they are today, but hopefully less so.  What did happen however, is that even back then, those who created these artistic representations were paid little and the work was tedious and hard.  And, even at the turn of the century in this country (still before plastic) the factories where these artificial flowers were made were filled with women and children, often working long hours, using child labor and unfair work conditions.  For more information about this time period and artificial manufacturing take a look at this book by Mary Van Kleeck for the Committee on Women's Work of the Russell Sage Foundation in 1913: books.google.com/books A hundred years have gone by, and in the mean time as in that famous line from The Graduate states:  our future lies in plastic.  And unfortunately so will many generations of people and animals on this earth as it isn't going away any time soon. Now, producing plastic can't be great for the environment.  In one article I found, the author suggested that there was actually no byproducts of artificial flowers.   Hmm.  Not sure where they think the plastic comes from in all those beautiful colors.  I Know a little bit about production, and I would assume that creating and melting and dying and forming those colorful plastic flowers and trees, there will be some leaching of that plastic, chemicals and dyes from that process into the environment, the soil, the air, the ground water, the oceans, etc.  In fact, I did find another book that suggested that people who make artificial flowers come into contact with arsenic gas, apparently it's pretty harmful, every heard of it?  And to top it off, a lot of these flowers, trees and fake shrubs are either doused in fire retardant chemicals or chemicals are "embedded" into the polyester or plastic materials so they are fire retardant.  Not only do they live forever, but they might burn because they're made of plastic.  You can't be too careful.  You can check out why they want you to buy that here:  http://www.commercialsilk.com artificial-tree1 But, not only does manufacturing the flowers probably affect people's health and the health of the environment in which it was made, it's also about who it's affecting.  Where do you think all these plastic flowers and trees and fake grasses are made?  Well, let's see.  Their plastic.  Their cheap.  Oh, could it be China?  Or maybe Thailand?  Or, say India?  Yes.  Cheap labor.  Unfair working conditions. Underpaid people or maybe even children, like this girl found by this photographer: a href="http://www.loupiote.com/photos/87750962.shtml"> artificial flowers - child labour - vietnam These underpaid laborers working tedious jobs with chemicals, arsenic and who knows what else.  And thankfully for the U.S., it's all being made in another country so the pollutants aren't directly in our backyard.   But that's not the end of the story.  Then it gets shipped thousands of miles over to us and trucks bring it to our homes or stores and we lovingly put the flowers in nice plastic vases and glue them together with some hot glue and styrofoam.  How lovely for the landfills.  And then we put those lovely fire retardant plastic flowers in our bedrooms and in our restaurants, and they collect dust while fire retardant and plastic off gases around them.  And if you're lucky, they may have even been sprayed with chemicals to make them smell like real flowers.  It just gets better and better. Now, I realize I may sound upset.  And I am.  And I know there are a ton of people out there who already know these flowers are not a good idea.  But for those of you entertaining the idea, please think twice.  If you're concerned about money, think about other ways to decorate that could be more forgiving to the environment and people's health.  If you want flowers, think naturally.  Why not buy some locally grown wildflowers?  or get some organic roses?  Find an organic or sustainable florist in your area.  I know people are starting to understand that most live cut flowers are sprayed with toxic pesticides and fungicides, etc.  as stated on this website for artificial flowers:  fake flowers don't need pesticides.  And you're right, but that in no way makes them good for the environment.  If you are really on a budget and worried about toxins, make them out of recycled paper, some fair trade organic cotton, anything but plastic!   You won't find a #2 recycle symbol on the back of that plastic rose, so you know where it goes when you're done. That's all for now. In Green and Health G&G