Susan McLeary of Passionflower Events was the featured designer at the Field to Vase Dinner held at The Flower House in Detroit last October.

We’ve had so much enthusiastic response to our beautiful, fashionable “Flower ‘Fro” featured in the 2016 American Flowers Week graphics, so it’s time to give you the back story.

Earlier this year, Debra Prinzing featured Susan McLeary of Ann Arbor-based Passionflower Events in an episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast. As part of that interview, Susan shared her concept shoot video with us for the Podcast show notes.

When we were starting to envision an iconic image to illustrate American Flowers Week, Susan’s artistry and her ability to create wearable floral fashions, came to mind. We asked her to design our Red-White-&-Blue Flower Fro — and thank goodness, she said YES!

web_00527_DP_AFW_Ad-01Here’s a quick Q&A with Susan about her process:

AFW: Susan, what inspired you to create a Flower ‘Fro in the first place?

SM: First of all, it’s really FUN. I was inspired by Sarah Winward who had decorated her husband’s beard. I reimagined flowers in an Afro. I’ve always loved Afros because they’re so beautiful and amazing. So I reached out to a model friend and asked if she could recommend a model with one. I met Monique Montri and she was a good sport about being our ‘fro model.

AFW: Was it complicated to design and create a Flower ‘Fro?

SM: Yes, it’s labor intensive. First, I spent about 30 minutes making a heavy-duty flower crown. I had to wire each stem to make sure it was sturdy enough. And then, I spent another 40 minutes to add individual flowers to Monique’s hair. We teased out her hair so it had more structure to hold the flowers.

AFW: How heavy was it?

SM: Monique said it was pretty heavy — probably six or seven pounds!

AFW: We love the way the flower crown frames Monique’s face! What did you do after attaching it?

SM: I started with Rice Flowers. They’re nice and light, but they added further structure and more body to her hair. Then I layered on everything else and wove stems to balance on top of the crown.

AFW: How many stems did you use?

SM: Roughtly 150 stems.

AFW: We were so fortunate that you volunteered your time to create the Red-White-&-Blue Flower ‘Fro. We were also fortunate to send you a lot of gorgeous American grown flowers donated by farms who believe in this cause (see list below). How did you like using those flowers?

More floral beauty -- for American Flowers Week

More floral beauty — for American Flowers Week

SM: I’m really passionate about the cause and the Movement. I’ve gotten to know a lot of flower farmers really well and I appreciate their hard work. It makes my designs so much richer to have interesting, seasonal floral items that speak to place.

AFW: What advice to you have for other floral designers to encourage them to use local and domestic flowers?

SM: When you use local and seasonal flowers, it gives your work a “soul,” and I believe you’re part of something special and not just anything that could be designed anywhere.

Thanks, Susan! We love your work and we thank everyone involved in creating this iconic look for American Flowers Week!

CREATIVE PROPS: We hired the best of the best from Susan McLeary’s team. THANK YOU to these amazing talents:
Monique Montri, our beautiful model
Hannah Butler, Imagine Three Beauty Studio
Amanda Dumouchelle, Amanda Dumouchelle Photography

American Flower Farms Donate Stems & Blooms
Thank YOU to the following farms for their support! All of the Red, White & Blue blooms you see here were donated by American flower farms, our friends who embrace this campaign:
Camflor Inc. (Watsonville, California)
Choice Bulb Farm (Mt. Vernon, Washington)
Ocean View Flowers (Lompoc, California)
Oregon Coastal Flowers (Tillamook, Oregon)
Peterkort Roses (Hillsboro, Oregon)
Resendiz Brothers (Fallbrook, California)
Sonshine Farm (Whidbey Island, Washington)