Jenny Diaz_botanical couture

Hope and new growth emerge from the devastation of California’s Creek Fire

            Jenny Moore Diaz is a graphic artist, illustrator, and photographer whose talents have supported many past Slow Flowers Society projects. She has designed visuals for fashion and flower farming clients, and, by virtue of being married to a California firefighter, Jenny has produced dozens of logos and branding for fire stations up and down the state.

California Dreaming, 1960s-inspired, for American Flowers Week (c) Jenny M. Diaz

Since 2016, she’s also brought her drawing, branding, and typography skills to American Flowers Week, so when Jenny expressed interest in creating a floral garment for the botanical couture collection, we jumped at the offer. The result was a 1960s-inspired mini-dress clad in orange and hot pink gerbera daisies, part of the 2019 collection and published in both Florists’ Review and Slow Flowers Journal – Volume One.
            In 2020, Jenny faced the challenge of working with a child at home during the COVID pandemic, mostly all by herself, since her husband Joe was away for days on end fighting fires. She sought to create something beautiful as an artist’s response to chaos.

Jenny M Diaz sketch for botanical couturefloral palette
Jenny’s concept sketch (left) and floral palette selection (right)

“I had an idea of a fire-goddess, a warrior woman who symbolized the strength of fire that leads to new growth,” she explains. “I sketched a flowing gown to look like fire was actually climbing up everything she touched or stepped over — like fire does. I placed this powerful story at Shaver Lake where the Creek Fire happened last summer. My husband was first on the scene for the fire, just 40 minutes from where we live. He was fighting that fire for 45 days straight.”

After the fire portrait
After the Fire, dramatically created and captured by Jenny M. Diaz (c) Jenny M. Diaz photography

            Laura Markle agreed to model Jenny’s fiery floral gown. A friend, competitive bodybuilder, and spouse of a firefighter in Joe’s company, Laura shares Jenny’s complex emotions about living in California confronting the near-constant threat of wildfires and knowing your spouse is on the front lines fighting that fire. “I couldn’t think of a better person to be my model,” Jenny enthuses.
            Jenny designed a two-piece garment: a draping, eight-foot-long skirt and a body suit with a structured, one-shoulder ruffle. She worked with Carlos Cardoza at CamFlor Inc. in Watsonville, California, generous donor of all the flowers for this project, to specify a flame-inspired spectrum of flowers — from yellow pincushion protea, Asiatic lilies, kangaroo paw, and craspedia, to dark orange-red sunflowers and gerberas to red ranunculus.
Jenny worked with her mother-in-law to design and sew the asymmetrical, wraparound cotton denim skirt. She dip-dyed the fabric in a yellow-to-red gradation, which the flowers eventually covered. Jenny dyed the knit bodysuit bright yellow and then reinforced the shoulder ruffle with a layer of stiff cardboard so it wouldn’t hang flat once flowers were attached using Oasis cold glue.

Jenny M. Diaz botanical couture
Another scene capturing the devastation of the Creek Fire in 2020

            Finding the desired background nearby to photograph her floral gown wasn’t hard. More than 375,000 acres burned in the Creek Fire, which sadly made a charred and ash-strewn setting against which to photograph the garment easily accessible. Joe Diaz, a firefighter since 2004, helped her scout a location not far beyond a fire access road where crews were using heavy equipment to remove dangerous trees and clear debris. Jenny, Laura, and Joe hiked down a steep ravine and climbed large boulders to photograph the flame dress against the scorched and raw landscape, still covered in ash. As far as the eye could see, stood charred stumps of pine trees. “The location had all the elements I was looking for,” Jenny explains. “And I thought it would be more impactful for Laura to be barefoot, emphasizing the lack of vegetation.”

I wanted to show that there’s hope, even after fire. It was amazing to see little sprouts of green already coming up through the earth. There is devastation, but also hope and beauty.

jenny m. diaz


            As creative director, Jenny designed and fabricated the garment, turning her idea into a gown flowered with all-California-grown botanicals. Multi-talented, she also served as photographer. The final expression achieves all she hoped for. “I wanted to show that there’s hope, even after fire. It was amazing to see little sprouts of green already coming up through the earth. There is devastation, but also hope and beauty.”

Creative Team:

Floral Palette: California-grown flowers and foliages donated by CamFlor Inc., camflor.com, @camflorinc
Design: Jenny Diaz, Jenny M. Diaz Design, jennymdiaz.com, @jennymdiaz
Seamstress: Hortensia Lopez
Model: Laura Markle, @mrsthemarkle
Hair: Jenny Diaz
Makeup: Alyson Wolfe, @alysonwolfe
Photographer: Jenny Diaz
Venue:  Shaver Lake, Shaver, California

Hellebore dress by Folk Art Flowers

Carolyn Kulb’s glorious hellebore dress, designed with Washington-grown hellebores for American Flowers Week 2021

The nuanced spectrum of hellebore petals brings shimmer to the season

The hellebore is one of the first early-season flowers to emerge from the wet, bare earth, delivering a bouquet of beauty at the most unexpected time of year.
            Cold-loving, hellebores even tolerate snow, a fact that prompted Seattle floral designer Carolyn Kulb to fantasize about a futuristic hellebore dress photographed in a snowy setting. “Most of the time we see hellebores portrayed in woodlands with moss or ferns. I wanted to see how these flowers would look showcased somewhere strange and different — where you wouldn’t even expect to see flowers.”
            Owner of Seattle-based Folk Art Flowers, Carolyn is a farmer-florist whose garden is filled with countless hellebores. She acknowledges that hellebores are a precious and relatively rare option for floral design, mostly due to their limited availability as a cut flower. That’s why she started growing the perennial in her own garden.

Folk Art Flowers social media badge

            The origins of Carolyn’s gorgeous garment began earlier this year when I invited Pam Youngsman to give a hellebore presentation for Slow Flowers members. Through her company PoppyStarts Inc., Pam sells starter plants to growers, specializing in hellebores and other perennials. As she treated us to the many details about the form, habit, and petal colors of hellebores, my imagination was sparked.
            What about an American Flowers Week botanical couture look expressed in hellebores? I asked Pam if she would collaborate with a floral designer to create a hellebore garment. The plantswoman was instrumental in sourcing hundreds of flowers for this project, both from her own garden and from others in the nursery trade.
            “To see the hellebore celebrated in this way is so fun,” Pam says. “It’s great to give this flower the spotlight it has deserved for so long. I’m seeing a lot more demand for hellebores as a cut flower and thankfully more growers are adding them, which should help increase availability of cut hellebores to the floral marketplace.”
            Pam says she recently spoke with Brad Siebe, general manager of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, who told her that demand for hellebores has doubled each year – from 2019 to present.
            Most of the flowers used for Carolyn’s dress are from the Heuger Gold Collection (HGC), including Red, Rose, and White from the HGC Ice N’ Roses series, which has been named ASCFG’s 2021 Fresh Cut Flower of the Year.

It’s great to give this flower the spotlight it has deserved for so long. I’m seeing a lot more demand for hellebores as a cut flower and thankfully more growers are adding them, which should help increase availability of cut hellebores to the floral marketplace.

Pam Youngsman, Poppystarts inc.
Folk Art Flowers Mood Board

Insisting she isn’t a seamstress, Carolyn looked to couture for ideas. “I started with a mood board and was drawn to runway images with high-fashion silhouettes. As I sketched, I thought about big shapes and big shoulders — something futuristic. I wanted a woman who looked like she just landed on this planet.”

Folk Art Flowers hellebore dress


            Carolyn repurposed a little-worn dress from her closet, reconstructing it as the base garment. “I sewed another piece of fabric over the sleeves and stuffed them with poly-filling, which is used for pillows. I wanted to give the sleeves structure, otherwise they would collapse under the weight of the flowers.”

  I loved taking the hellebores, which are unusual and grow in the snow, and using them on a garment that’s also unusual and structural.

CAROLYN KULB, FOLK ART FLOWERS


            The dramatic shoulders and simple silhouette provided Carolyn with a smooth surface for attaching the hellebore flowers, approximately 500 of them. She glued the blooms one at a time in bands — from dark red at the shoulders to pink, blush and greenish-white at the waist, and transitioning to mauve-purple flowers at the hem. The mostly single-form flowers give the dress a shimmery texture resembling paillette-style spangles. A keyhole neckline detail adds a delicate contrast against the oversized shoulders.

behind the scenes of the hellebore dress


            “I loved taking the hellebores, which are unusual and grow in the snow, and using them on a garment that’s also unusual and structural,” Carolyn says. “Adding a headpiece makes the look even more otherworldly.”
            Constructed on a rustic wire head band covered in silver bouillon wire, the headpiece features a gradation of hellebores — from tiny buds that float at the tip of each silver strand to larger buds and eventually the full flowers attached at the hairline. “Playing with that scale was really fun,” Carolyn notes. “I wanted this piece to be crown-like, but not a literal crown.”
            She tapped into her wedding vendor network of hair and makeup artists for their creative talents. “I gave our makeup artist my mood board and sent her photos as I was constructing the dress and the headpiece, but I wanted her to use her own creativity. I didn’t tell her to add the petal-like makeup effects, but it came out looking amazing.”

            After brainstorming with photographer Missy Palacol, Carolyn styled the model with booties and gave her a glass lantern as a prop, in keeping with the story she wanted to tell. “She’s from the future, from another world. I wanted to envision what she might have on her journey. I loved her little booties, not only because they keep her warm, but to convey she’s ready to walk. If she’s from another world, maybe she’s looking for places where she can grow things like her hellebore dress. Maybe she’s the guardian of these magical flowers that grow in the snow — and she’s looking for a place to plant more of them.”

Creative Team

Floral Palette: Washington-grown hellebores
Production support: Pamela Youngsman, PoppyStarts, poppystarts.com, @poppystarts
Designer: Carolyn Kulb, Folk Art Flowers, folkartflowers.com, @folkartflowers
Model: Tasia Baldwin @_tasiajb
Hair/Makeup: DeLeana Guerrero, Luxe Artistry Seattle @guerrerodelavida_artistry and @luxeartistryseattle
Photography: Missy Palacol, missypalacolphotography.com, @missy.palacol
Location: Hyak Sno-Park, Snoqualmie Pass, Washington

In partnership with BLOOM Imprint

This year marks our sixth Botanical Couture collection for American Flowers Week. With 25 looks created to date, and recovering from the challenges of 2020 and the global pandemic, we are thrilled to share one dozen new wearable fashions showcased in the 2021 collection!

In conjunction with the campaign, Slow Flowers Society and its publishing partner, BLOOM Imprint, released a special digital issue of Slow Flowers Journal, available for free download. The publication features this year’s inventive and innovative botanical couture collection of one dozen wearable floral ensembles designed with iconic American-grown botanicals.

Flowers are more essential than ever. Locally grown flowers are having a renaissance, not just among those who have long valued sustainability and domestic agriculture, but among the general public.

What is the point of this Botanical Couture series? Is it frivolous? Yes! Is it strategic? Yes!

By presenting flowers as fashion, photographed with editorial styling to tell a story, the American Flowers Week campaign shines a light on the talented growers and designers who are part of the Slow Flowers Movement. Moreover, it changes what we think of flowers. No longer just a perishable item to capture a sentiment in time, perhaps the flowers, foliage, foraged botanicals, and natural elements you see in these pages will shift and expand your thinking. With flowers transformed as art or sculpture, as fashion and beauty, as a symbol of the human desire to connect with nature, there is much more to each bloom than one might imagine.

Production of the Botanical Couture Special Edition of Slow Flowers Journal features the talents of:

Editorial Director, Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers Society
Design + Picture Editor, Robin Avni, BLOOM Imprint
Copy Editor: Judith H. Dern
Image Editor: Heather Marino
Cover Photography: Niesha Blancas + Ana Quinata
Cover Model: Jada Cruz

american flowers week 2021
American Flowers Week 2021 artwork from Jeanetta Gonzales

Slow Flowers Society announces details for the 2021 American Flowers Week campaign, the annual celebration to promote domestic flower farming and sustainable floristry that takes place June 28-July 4, 2021.

In conjunction with the campaign, Slow Flowers Society and its publishing partner, BLOOM Imprint, will release a special digital issue of Slow Flowers Journal, available for free download on June 1st. The publication features this year’s inventive and innovative botanical couture collection of one dozen wearable floral ensembles designed with iconic American-grown botanicals.

Since 2015, Prinzing has staged a week-long celebration of domestic flowers to raise consumer awareness and unite America’s flower farmers within the U.S. floral industry, generating more than 14.5 million social media impressions on Twitter and Instagram through the power of images, ideas and values promoting American flowers.

“I created American Flowers Week in 2015 as a community-focused floral holiday that encourages participation from everyone in the floral marketplace — from flower seed and bulb producers to growers; from designers to retailers; from cutting garden enthusiasts to artists,” Prinzing explains. “It’s the original, American-grown floral holiday that stimulates interest in beauty, seasonality, local agriculture and sustainable floral design.”

“It’s the original, American-grown floral holiday that stimulates interest in beauty, seasonality, local agriculture and sustainable floral design.”

Slow Flowers has again commissioned a dynamic lineup of design teams: flower farmers and florists who partnered over the course of the past year to create botanical garments.

“By presenting flowers as fashion, photographed with editorial styling to tell a story, the American Flowers Week campaign shines a light on the talented growers and designers who are part of the Slow Flowers Movement,” Prinzing says. “Moreover, it changes what we think of flowers. No longer just a perishable item to capture a sentiment in time, perhaps the flowers, foliage, foraged botanicals, and natural elements you see in these pages will shift and expand your thinking. With flowers transformed as art or sculpture, as fashion and beauty, as a symbol of the human desire to connect with nature, there is much more to each bloom than one might imagine.”

Each look in the American Flowers Week Collection is unique to the location and season where it was produced and photographed, with design narratives that elevate flowers and foliages as works of art.

Participating Slow Flowers designer teams include:

CALIFORNIA

MAINE

NEW HAMPSHIRE

  • April Holmes, April Showers Flowers (design), with foraged woodland material provided by April Showers Flowers (Candia, New Hampshire)

NEW JERSEY

  • Jennifer Reed, Jennifer Designs (design), with flowers sourced from Jig-Bee Flower Farm (Kensington, Pennsylvania) and Platt’s Farm Market (Clarksboro, New Jersey)

OREGON

  • Kathleen Barber, Erika’s Fresh Flowers (design), with flowers provided by Erika’s Fresh Flowers (Warrenton, Oregon)

WASHINGTON

WISCONSIN

  • Erin Schneider, Hilltop Community Farm (design), with flowers provided by Hilltop Community Farm (La Valle, Wisconsin)

Images and credits for all of these looks are available at American Flowers Week Press Page (americanflowersweek.com)

MORE ABOUT AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK

American Flowers Week is an all-inclusive, virtual promotion campaign designed to engage the public, policymakers and the media in a conversation about the origins of their flowers. As an advocacy effort, the campaign coincides with America’s Independence Day on July 4th, providing florists, retailers, wholesalers and flower farmers a patriotic opportunity to promote American grown flowers.

American Flowers Week receives sponsorship from Farmgirl Flowers, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Longfield Gardens, Mayesh Wholesale Florist, the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Rooted Farmers, Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, The Gardener’s Workshop, Flowerfarm.com, FTD and BLOOM Imprint.

American Flowers Week supporters can find more information and resources at americanflowersweek.com. Downloadable fact sheets, infographics and 2021 American Flowers Week logo and social media badges are available for growers and florists to use for marketing and promotion efforts.

Participants are encouraged to use the social media tag #Americanflowersweek to help spread the word about this campaign across all platforms.

For the sixth consecutive year, our Slow Flowers Botanical Couture Collection highlights creativity and fashion with American-grown flowers and foliages — all to celebrate American Flowers Week!

You’ll soon be the first to see our AFW 2021 Botanical Fashion Collection, created over the past year by a talented lineup of Slow Flowers Members around the U.S.

Slow Flowers will unveil the beautiful collection on June 1, 2022, followed by many other platforms and channels. In fact, we’ll soon share American Flowers Week badges for you to download free and use in your own promotion and branding.

Until then, help us thank, congratulate and celebrate our Featured Designers:

CALIFORNIA

Los Angeles Dream Team:
Talia Boone of Postal Petals, Kit Wertz and Casey Schwartz of Flower Duet, with Yoni Levenbach of Flowers Without Borders

Yoni Levenbach (left) and Talia Boone (right)
Yoni Levenbach (left) and Talia Boone (right)
kit wertz and casey schwartz
Kit Wertz (left) and Casey Schwartz (right)

Lilac Wonderment:
Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals and Elizabeth Kilcoyne of Kilcoyne Lavender Farm

Margaret Joan Florals and Kilcoyne Lilac Farm
Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Florals (left) and Elizabeth Kilcoyne of Kilcoyne Lilac Farm (right)

Beautiful Protea:
Kelly Shore
of Petals by the Shore and Diana Roy & Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers

kelly diana mel
Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore (left) with Diana Roy and Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers in Fallbrook, California

Kelly created an American Flowers Week look for our 2018 collection with the support of Beth Van Sandt of Homer, Alaska-based Scenic Place Peonies. Check it out here!


A high tunnel filled with California Ranunculus at CamFlor Inc.

California-grown from CamFlor Inc.
CamFlor is supplying seasonal stems from its fields and high tunnels in Watsonville for two of our Botanical Couture designers.


Jenny Diaz
Jenny Diaz, graphic designer, illustrator and photographer!

Our Slow Flowers brand designer Jenny M. Diaz returns with an homage to the resilience of California’s wild places and forests, surviving the 2020 wildfires. She says this: “My theme is creating beauty out of devastation. My photo shoot will take place where California’s Creek Fire started and I’m planning a dress that will look like fire made out of flowers.”

We can’t wait to see what she creates in floral fashion. Jenny’s idea is more meaningful because her spouse is a firefighter! Jenny designed her first-ever American Flowers Week botanical couture look in 2019 — a mod mini-dress of gerbera daisies. Check it out here!


Our Slow Flowers social media manager Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social is channeling her own fashion sensibility with a California-grown design.

Niesha shares this about her concept: “My vision for this year’s botanical couture look is to channel my love for 90’s/00’s nostalgia in a full floral-filled brainchild. This look will definitely be fun, energetic, and freshly… cool!”


MAINE

Debra Prinzing (left) with Joy Longfellow and Hillary Alger, photographed at the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Johnny’s Selected Seeds:
Hillary Alger, Product Manager (Herbs and Flowers) and Joy Longfellow, Flower Trials Manager

Returning for the third year, the flower experts at Johnny’s Seeds combine a stunning array of American-grown blooms and an artistic sensibility to reveal their floral fashions yet again. We couldn’t be more excited! For their 2019 and 2020 botanical couture looks, Johnny’s partnered with Maine-based Slow Flowers designers, including Rayne Grace Hoke of Flora’s Muse and Michelle Rech of Electric Flora, respectively.

See the 2019 look here and the 2020 look here.

Artists in their own right, Hillary and Joy collaborated on a fresh, new, field-grown look for 2021! We can’t wait to share it with you soon!


NEW HAMPSHIRE

April Holmes of April Showers Flowers

April Holmes of April Showers Flowers

NEW JERSEY

Jennifer Reed of Jennifer Designs

Jen Reed-Oechsle
Jen Reed-Oechsle of Jennifer Designs Events

OREGON

Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers

Kathleen Barber of Erika’s Fresh Flowers

WASHINGTON

Heavenly Hellebores
Carolyn Kulb
of Folk Art Flowers and Pam Youngsman of Poppy Starts Inc.

hellebores and Carolyn Kulb
Hellebores as botanical couture inspiration; Carolyn Kulb of Folk Art Flowers (right) (c) Missy Palacol Photography

Creative Team Credits:

Designer: Carolyn Kulb – Folk Art Flowers – @folkartflowers
Photographer: Missy Palacol – Missy Palacol Photography – @missy.palacol
Grower: Pamela Youngsman – Poppy Starts – @poppystarts
HMU: DeLeana Guerrero – DeLeana Guerrero / Luxe Artistry Seattle – @guerrerodelavida_artistry / @luxeartistryseattle
Model: Tasia Baldwin @_tasiajb


LORA Bloom Collective
Tammy Myers
of LORA Bloom, with featured florists (* indicates Slow Flowers Society members):

*Anne Bradfield, Floressence Design
*Lori Poliski, Flori
*Maura Whalen, Casablanca Floral
*Sharlet Driggs, Sharlet Floral
Kristal Hancock, Sublime Stems
Sophie Strongman, The Old Soul Flower Co.

Tammy Myers
Tammy Myers, posing with her 2019 American Flowers Week botanical couture design.

WISCONSIN
Erin Schneider, Hilltop Community Farm

Wisconsin farmer-florist and environmental educator Erin Schneider of Hilltop Community Farm

GET READY!!!

We’ll share the BIG REVEAL of our 2021 American Flowers Week Botanical Couture collection on June 1st. Stay tuned! In the meantime, EVERYONE is invited to conjure their own American Flowers Week botanical couture wearable, because we hope to flood social media with #americanflowersweek goodness come June 28-July 4! Let your imagination go wild!

Join Debra Prinzing and past designers of our botanical couture collections to learn how to plan, design and produce a 2021 floral fashion!

Thinking of creating a Botanical Couture floral fashion for the 2021 American Flowers Week campaign?

Watch the Replay video of our live Webinar, originally held Friday, January 15th. Hear advice and tips from Slow Flowers member designers and growers as each discusses how an iconic botanical couture look for American Flowers Week came to life. Other topics covered include flower sourcing, model selection and photography.

Watch the Webinar to learn whether this opportunity is right for you! 

Download your free social media badge in three different formats to show your support and help to promote #americanflowersweek

I’m so excited to reveal the 2021 American Flowers Week branding, created exclusively for Slow Flowers Society by Los Angeles-based artist, graphic and surface designer and illustrator Jeanetta Gonzales. Jeanetta is the owner of Jeanetta Gonzales Art & Design.

Like some of our past commissions, I first saw Jeanetta’s artwork on her Instagram feed (@nettdesigns) and subsequently lost myself following many beautiful threads to her website and store. Jeanetta’s artwork exudes joy, optimism, the spirit and strength of women, and, YES, there are often flowers and plants in her pieces. In addition to framed art prints, Jeanetta’s illustrations appear on products like phone cases, tea towels and other linens, mugs, and more.

Jeanetta Gonzales in her studio

To plan this charming illustration celebrating American Flowers Week, Jeanetta and I “met” over Zoom a few months ago to brainstorm and come up with a direction. I sent her a few photos of bouquets of flowers wrapped in Kraft paper, and she took that idea so much farther than I originally imagined.

Instead of hands holding a bouquet, we see a sweet, flower-loving gal. It’s so easy to imagine that she has just selected the stems at a local farm stand or purchased them from a florist who sources locally and seasonally. Her arms can barely contain the botanical abundance and we see this young woman peek out from the armload of blooms, her braid swinging over her shoulders. This image simply puts a huge smile on my face and gives me the hope we all feel at the beginning of flower season.

You can learn more about Jeanetta by visiting her website and watching this video introduction:

Meet Jeanetta Gonzales

I also recently interviewed our 2021 American Flowers Week artist about her life in art and more. Please enjoy this Q&A, edited for length and clarity:

AFW: Jeanetta, I’m so excited to partner with you to celebrate American Flowers Week 2021. Thank you for your creativity and talents! You have your fingers in so many genres and media as an illustrator. How do you describe yourself and your studio work? An illustrator? A surface designer?
JG: All of the above! I went to UCLA for a Bachelors in Fine Arts and then I ended up returning to school a few years later for graphic design. I hit the ground running as a graphic designer, which has been the foundation of what I do, for the last 20 years. I am always looking for creative outlets, so I continued taking classes, especially in surface pattern design. Around 2013, I started selling my surface pattern design at trade shows in New York where I exhibited with a collective group of artists. I have licensed my artwork, created pattern designs for my fulltime jobs and freelanced as a textile artist.

“Lady B” – available as an 8×10 illustrated art print from Jeanetta Gonzales

AFW: Your work looks very painterly. What is your medium?
JG:
I paint and draw and then switch everything over to the computer. My graphic design work involves drawing on the computer, which is something I really enjoy. I also do a lot of digital illustration in which I bring my painted pieces into the computer for the finishing details. I tighten and clean up the drawings. I draw over things and change colors, using Photoshop techniques you can’t really do when you’re painting.

AFW: You have an impressive career. Can you share some highlights?
JG:
In the early years as a designer I worked in traditional, corporate places like WebMD in the Bay Area. In 2005, I returned to Los Angeles and started working for boutique studios, where I designed advertising and pattern design. Then, I joined Mattel and I was a senior packaging designer on the Barbie brand. I also helped develop an African-American doll line that Mattel introduced in 2009.

Some of Jeanetta’s packaging for BARBIE® “SO IN STYLE”

AFW: That is awesome! Tell us more!
JG:
I was the branding and packaging designer on a whole team of African-American designers. The line was called BARBIE® “SO IN STYLE” which included dolls in high school who mentored a little sister doll.

AFW: What did you do next?
JG:
“So in Style” was probably one of the last Mattel projects I worked on. Then I was laid off and it was my moment to say: “Yeah, maybe I can do this on my own and see what I can make happen.” I stayed in toys for a while, specializing in packaging for girls’ toys, mostly dolls. I even worked for the Disney Store.

AFW: When did you start building your own body of work?
JG:
It’s been 10 years now. Wow, that just hit me! It has been a journey of trying a lot of things to see where they lead; saying ‘yes’ to things and figuring it out as you go along and just taking risks.

AFW: It’s so interesting to see your textile work. Can you talk about that?
JG:
I’ve done plenty of textile designs and normally, I license my artwork to an apparel client, mostly for women’s wear. Recently, I’ve collaborated with a fashion designer to create apparel from scratch.

AFW: That is so inspiring. Tell us about the “JUSTICE” Sweats fashion collaboration with Eva Franco Design.
JG:
I met Eva Franco through a mutual connection. She had this great idea to turn my artwork that I made earlier this year during the demonstrations after George Floyd’s death, into a limited edition line of clothing. Everyone was hurting and I wanted to express what I felt and make my statement through my artwork. I made a piece that had fists in the air with all different skin tones. It represents unity, solidarity for the movement. I see beauty in that and it’s so moving and powerful to see people coming together. My artwork made the rounds on social media and people were asking about it. I was really protective of it, but then this opportunity came along to collaborate with Eva Franco. She had a vision of putting my artwork on clothing and making it into a form of wearable protest art. We worked on it for several months using Eva’s fashion expertise. I learned so much about the fashion and apparel-making process from her.

AFW: That must feel so rewarding for you as an artist.
JG:
It’s so cool. Everywhere you wear these sweats you’re making a statement; starting a conversation. And so the art lives on beyond just being in my portfolio or on my social media. Fashion is an amazing medium for this type of art. I really like being able to see my art in a wearable form. It’s one thing to see the pattern, but to actually see it sewn into a garment and worn on a body takes it to the next level.

AFW: How can people order the sweat suit?
JG:
We’re actually in production right now. We are taking pre-orders. You can still order now and the garments will start to ship in the next week or two. Order on my shop at SHOPNETTDESIGNS.COM.

“Plant Addict” is an 8×10 illustrated art print, available in Jeanetta’s online shop

AFW: I assume you like flowers because you draw them a lot! That’s one of the reasons we were drawn to you as an artist, Jeanetta. Can you tell us more about your love affair with flowers?
JG:
I don’t know where my obsession with flowers came from. I’ve been painting and drawing flowers for quite a while – probably since I started licensing my art. I’m really taken by the textures and the different colors and the varieties of flowers – they’re just beautiful. Even when they are decaying there’s always so much to observe. Flowers are a never-ending source of inspiration for me. And I absolutely love painting and drawing them.

AFW: I adore the piece you drew for American Flowers Week, with its exuberance and excessive abundance. How many flowers can this gal hold in her arms? She’s barely hanging onto her bouquet – it’s so big! To get started, you created an inspiration board based on some of your past works as well as photos you liked. Is that your typical process?
JG:
Oh, yes. Research – always! Even if I do have an idea in mind, I still want to explore it and look for more inspiration. So I get on Pinterest or Google and poke around for related ideas that help me brainstorm. Next, I sketch and write out my ideas. The move forward for me is to have a visual jumpstart of ideas.

AFW: How do you turn a sketch into something so refined, detailed and multilayered as a final piece?
JG:
My process has turned into a solid combination of traditional media and working with digital media. For this piece, I painted all the flowers for my composition. I blocked them out with watercolor to get that texture where I wanted it. Then I scanned it and start digital painting. I draw and paint and refine by mimicking brush strokes on the computer. I like to draw the faces and the skin tones. I’ll spend time on facial expression and the individual flower details.

“It’s a Jungle out There,” an 8×10 illustrated art print from Jeanetta Gonzales, also available in her online shop

AFW: You are prolific in your work. It’s so beautiful!
JG:
Oh, thank you! I have an illustration agent so I update my portfolio and continue to create on my own to have new work to show. I would like to be drawing and painting a lot more than I do. But I still have graphic design clients, and I also mentor and coach artists.

AFW: Tell us about your coaching work?
JG:
Artists reach out to me and we walk through the concerns or challenges they’re facing at the moment. I like to do portfolio reviews, help clients with their art, show them techniques and encourage them to use their strengths to improve on what they’re doing now. Sometimes it’s like a birthing process to get to the other side. As artists, it’s such a vulnerable thing that we do. We’re working from our heart; we’re putting our work out there and for the most part, we want people to like it. And for a lot of (artists), it’s scary to put your work out there on social media. Coaching can be part therapist, part teacher, part life coach.

A peek inside Jeanetta’s Southern California studio

AFW: Please elaborate!
JG:
Working with a coaching client can be intuitive. Once I talk with someone for a while, I can really see, ‘Okay, this is where you’re scared, or this is where you’re blocking yourself.’ So we need to work through that first before you can get to the next stage. For one of my clients, that involved a lot of drawing and going back to her roots. We looked at her early artwork and I asked her, ‘What did you like to draw when you weren’t drawing for work but just for fun?’ She went back to her early days of art school and it opened everything up and she was able to work on new projects from a place of joy and not fear. Then new work and new opportunities started coming to her.

AFW: Your own illustrations and drawings are attracting some interesting partnerships and collaborations. In addition to the new fashion collaborations with Eva Franco Design, we noticed that Facebook is featuring you this month! Tell us more.
JG:
Facebook has a page called “Lift Black Voices” and it features Black stories, experiences and videos. Facebook also has a Black business holiday gift guide and my work is featured in it. You can see the gift guide at FB.me/BuyBlackGifts to shop for my “Juneteenth” art print and many other fantastic products from Black businesses. Every Friday in November (11 a.m. Pacific) you can watch Facebook’s #BuyBlack show on facebook.com/liftblackvoices. Hosted by comedian Phoebe Robinson, you’ll see  interviews with Black business owners, musical performances and more.

AWF: Well, all I can say to that is Congratulations, Jeanetta! We are so grateful to partner with you and share your incredible illustration with the Slow Flowers community in celebration of American Flowers Week.

Learn more about Jeanetta Gonzales Art & Design and see her work here:
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All photography (c) Lauren Sophia

In Portland, Maine, a group of Slow Flowers Members wanted to celebrate American Flowers Week with a public floral installation. As their search for a location hit several dead-ends, mostly due to COVID-19 permitting restrictions, they landed on a beautiful way to honor Portland’s Black community while also raising awareness about seasonal and locally-grown flowers.

After a few locations didn’t work out as planned, Rayne Grace Hoke of Flora’s Muse landed on the perfect venue. “I used to walk past the Green Memorial AME Zion Church when I lived on Munjoy Hill in Portland. And I knew it was one of the first Black churches in Maine.” The stone church was built and dedicated in 1914.  You can read more about the history here.

Hoke recruited friends and fellow Slow Flowers members Michelle Rech of Electric Flora and Shelley Stevens of Bloomers Maine, to join as collaborators and then approached the church via email. According to Hoke, Pastor Kenneth Lewis, Jr., was touched by the idea and he put the group in touch with Merita McKenzie, a congregational lay leader.

Like many places of worship, gatherings for members of Green Memorial AME Zion Church had been restricted due to COVID. “They haven’t been able to have any physical ceremonies or services — just Zoom or Facebook services,” Hoke explains. “When we were talking about the American Flowers Week timeframe, McKenzie mentioned that Reverend birthday is July 4th — and they were planning on having a drive-by birthday celebration for him. The timing worked out perfectly, that we could celebrate the church and their Reverend.”

With the go-ahead from Green Memorial AME Zion Church, the designers pulled things together in less than one week. “We really wanted to make this a community event, even though we’re in this pandemic. This project is about supporting community. American Flowers Week gave us a platform to design an installation, but we wanted to take it one step further to show support for local flower farms, businesses owned by people of color, and finding sustainable design mechanics.

The team divided up tasks to procure and pick up flowers and to connect with the local Black Lives Matter organization for guidance. Hoke credits the local floral community for its generosity (see donor list below), including a Boston wholesale florist that saw Hoke’s social media post and reached out with a donation.   

Because of the historic landmark nature of the church’s architecture, the designers took care with the installation, which occurred on Friday evening, July 3rd. The asymmetrical, two-sided floral arch spans the front entrance to the sanctuary. The upright elements are built on a chicken wire base mounted with damage-free hangers. The design’s first layer of greenery covered the chicken wire. And then, thanks to another local florist’s donation of water tubes, the team inserted hundreds of flower stems, one-at-a-time into the foliage base.

Volunteers from Green Memorial AME Zion Church reinforced the feeling of community and collaboration. “We showed the ladies how to put the flowers in water tubes and they jumped right in. They were the best helpers ever,” she says. “Michelle and I decided that we want to hire them when we need freelancers.”

As an important finishing detail, they hung a “Black Lives Matter” banner above the door. It was designed and donated by Girl that Designs, a local Portland artist. “We pressed some of the flowers and now that the installation has been taken down, we plan to frame the banner with the pressed flowers and give it to the congregation,” Hoke says.

The experience was joy-inducing and incredibly meaningful for everyone who volunteered and who stopped and viewed the floral installation over the holiday weekend. “As a florist during the pandemic, I haven’t been able to do my job,” Hoke says. “Whether it’s designing flowers for a wedding, a funeral or helping people celebrate other life milestones, it has been very difficult not to help people heal through flowers. I  felt so proud and grateful to be able to help the congregation celebrate their Reverend’s birthday, the history of their church and to use all the locally-grown flowers to do so.”

On July 4th, Reverend Lewis viewed the floral installation during the congregation’s socially-distanced birthday tribute to their leader. He sat in front of the church, framed by flowers, as members drove by with signs, balloons, and mask-wearing smiles as they waved and wished him a happy birthday.

Hoke can’t help but feel emotional about the experience. “I got teary,” she admits. “We’ve all been feeling so helpless and after seeing other floral memorials and tributes around the country, we were inspired. Each of us has a voice. We can do something. It just felt right.”

Flower donations

*Meadow Ridge Perennial & Cut Flower Farm @meadowridgeperennials

Snell Family Farm @carolyn.snell

Bumble Root Organic Farm @bumblerootorganicfarm

Direct Flowers of Boston @directflowers2florist

Mechanics donation

Fiddlehead Florist @fiddleheadflowers (water tubes!!!)

Signage

Allie Norman, @girlthatdesigns

Florists

*Rayne Grace Hoke, Flora’s Muse @florasmuse

*Shelley Stevens, Bloomers Maine @bloomersmaine

*Michelle Rech, Electric Flora @electricflora 

Photography, Lauren Sophia @laurynsophia

*denotes Slow Flowers Member

We have live and virtual events, installations, interviews and demonstrations for you to enjoy!

For the sixth annual American Flowers Week, we have all sorts of free programming to share with you. Here’s a quick recap of what’s to come, beginning with Day One, Sunday, June 28th. Check the Calendar Tab in the menu above, and follow #americanflowersweek for more news and inspiration in real time!

DAY ONE: Sunday, June 28th

Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies

Join our Facebook LIVE interview with Kim Herning of Northern Lights Peonies in Fairbanks, Alaska, creator of one of our American Flowers Week botanical couture looks for 2020!

Join Debra Prinzing on the Slow Flowers Facebook Page during her LIVE interview to meet Kim, see her flowers, her peony fields, and more.

Kim will also share the incredible mechanics that she employed to design a peony frock with thousands of her stems.

Save the Date! We’ll announce the time to join us soon. We will also share the playback video of the interview.

DAY TWO: Monday, June 29th

Virtual tour and visit to Filoli Historic House & Garden, site of Slow Flowers Summit 2021

Join our Instagram LIVE tour of Filoli Historic House & Garden and enjoy a floral design demonstration from the Filoli Cutting Garden.

Emily Saeger and Niesha Blancas

Slow Flowers social media manager Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social will be LIVE at Filoli, location of our upcoming Slow Flowers Summit, rescheduled for June 28-30, 2021. Her special guest is Emily Saeger, Filoli’s lead horticulturist and manager of the cutting garden.

We can’t be at Filoli in person next week, but thanks to Niesha and Emily, you’ll get a flavor of what’s in store for next year’s Slow Flowers Summit.

Emily has promised to design an arrangement on the live-stream, showing us the amazing selection of flowers, foliages, herbs and other botanical ingredients that flourish at Filoli.

Save the Date! We’ll announce the time to join us soon. We will also share the playback video of the interview.

DAY THREE: Tuesday, June 30th (1 p.m. Pacific)

Join Debra Prinzing on a Facebook LIVE interview with Slow Flowers member Tammy Myers, of LORA Bloom, an online platform for local floral delivery with an eco-friendly mission. 

Learn how Tammy and several of the florists involved in LORA Bloom have created buzz around their studios and shops with an American Flowers Week Sale.

A portion of the sale of their beautiful summer arrangements will go directly to @solid_ground_wa in Seattle. Solid Ground works to end poverty and undo racism and other oppressions that are root causes of poverty.

Debra has invited Tammy and the Slow Flowers florists in the LORA Bloom network to join her on a Zoom conversation that will stream live to the Slow Flowers Facebook Page. See their floral arrangements and hear their stories!

Save the Date! We’ll announce the time to join us soon. We will also share the playback video of the interview.

DAY FOUR: Wednesday, July 1st

Join Debra Prinzing on an Instagram LIVE interview with Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and The Floral Source, as they “unpack” the special American Grown at Home Box that Kelly has curated for American Flowers Week.

For American Flowers Week 2020, Kelly’s special Red-White-And-Blue Floral Box features an assortment of blooms and foliage from CamFlor and also red charm peonies from Alaska Perfect Peony

Kelly and Debra will connect in IG Live to open their floral boxes and talk about the varieties of US-grown blooms. After the big reveal, they will take a break to design with the stems . . . and then return later in the day to show each other (and YOU) what they have created with these beautiful flowers.

Save the Date! We’ll announce the time to join us soon. We will also share the playback video of the interview.

DAY FIVE: Thursday, July 2nd

We’ll be following along with Detroit botanical artist, Lisa Waud, as she creates the final floral installation in her six-week series “Big Flower Friend.”

Slow Flowers is sponsoring this final, July 2nd installation for American Flowers Week, in support of Lisa’s artistic endeavor to promote Michigan flower farms and raise awareness in her community around racial justice.

Lisa has promised to give us a behind-the-scenes peek at her beautiful installation, which we will share via Instagram.

Save the Date! We’ll announce the time to join us soon. We will also share the playback video of the interview.

MORE TO COME: We’ll be posting more details soon. If you have an installation or event, please be sure to list it in our Calendar via this link:

Flowers at Town & Country Market on Bainbridge Island, Washington (c) Grace Hensley

Town & Country Markets, a six-location chain of neighborhood grocery stores in the greater Seattle area, has been one of our most consistent partners for celebrating American Flowers Week each year.

Led by Melanie Cherry, floral category manager, each floral department across the company put their personal spin on decorations and displays, all with the goal of driving sales and engaging shoppers who are inspired by local, Washington-grown flowers.

The flower & garden department at T&C’s Central Market Poulsbo

Here is how two of the floral managers created buzz and excitement in 2019. We asked Grace Hensley, a local photographer, blogger and container design expert to stop by and capture these photos at T & C’s Central Market Poulsbo and at Town & Country Bainbridge Island. Kudos to each manager, who I’ll mention below. Can’t wait to see what they create for 2020!

T&C used photography from one of Slow Flowers’ American Flowers Week botanical fashions to create in-store signage. The dahlia quilt was designed by Tammy Myers of LORA Bloom and photographed by Missy Palacol.

Josh Hessler, floral department manager at Central Market Poulsbo, shares this background:

At Poulsbo, we got excited about British Flowers last year and the floral couture gowns and dresses we saw during that time in the weeks earlier in preparation for American flowers week. Our thought was to do something similar for American flowers week while highlighting our local flowers from the Northwest. As we began to dig into our various ideas we honed our ideas down to two main thoughts:

A flag-inspired apron worn by a mannequin, with cheery sunflowers peeking from the pockets at Central Market Poulsbo

The first was summer-Americana, including the flag, and some red, white, blue themes along with bright sunflowers and other pops of color.

Floral-decor on summer garden hats, as part of the American Flowers Week displays.

The second was to create some hats with flower-craftiness creating some creative pops of floral high fashion on our display.

The result was a display that was fun to create and highlighted our regional and hyper-local flower offerings! Customers loved the end results as well.

Americana accessories to highlight locally-grown blooms.

Many offers to buy the floral hats, and the American flag apron (worn by one of the mannequins) came in even though we weren’t offering them for sale! This interest led us later in the summer to offer a free interactive clinic on flower crown crafting for customers, which was a tremendous hit and is still ask for regularly!

The T-shirt reads: “Bikes & Beer & Beaches & Bainbridge.” It pairs beautifully with a leather jacket and a charming floral skirt at T&C Market on Bainbridge Island (Washington).

Sarah Swalley, floral department manager at Town & Country Market – Bainbridge Island, and her team put the flavor of island living into their displays:

The fabulous floral fashion look (left); manager Sarah Swalley (right), at the floral design counter.

The department displays featured a vintage-inspired bicycle, decorated with local flowers, and a mannequin dressed in a popular local T-shirt.

The floral department greets shoppers who enter T&C Markets on Bainbridge Island, Washington, during American Flowers Week.

Customers selected from lush, seasonal hand-tied bouquets, wrapped in kraft paper with the American Flowers Week bouquet label.

Here are some other inspiring design ideas from these talented floral teams:

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND:

POULSBO

Order Your American Flowers Week Bouquet Labels Here. Labels are a Slow Flowers member benefit.