A person in an emerald shirt sitting on a gray sofa creating a floral arrangement.

The Transformative Power of Design

By Valerie Crisostomo, on

It all started with a list. In the summer of 2020, a list was published on blackgirlflorists.com where you could find and support Black women florists. Since then, this list—which began as a national directory—has become a membership-based organization of florists from around the world that promotes and supports Black women florists, our creativity, and contributions to the industry, while acting as a space for support, connection, and educational resources. As the president and chief executive officer of Black Girl Florists and the owner of One Soul Events (Atlanta, GA), and in the spirit of Black Girl Florists’ mission, we are thrilled about our upcoming collaboration with Longwood. Through a floral design lecture and workshops taking place at Longwood in October, two of our floral designers—Erica Jones with O Luxe Designs (Boston, MA) and Tasha Flowers of Tasha Flowers Florist (Baltimore, MD)—and I will demonstrate our techniques, tell our stories, and celebrate how transformative design can be—and we can’t wait to share with you.

Black Girl Florists was created to support and celebrate Black women in floristry. This is a space for us to connect and grow. In this community, we develop our businesses and talent, all the while connecting with other Black women florists and sharing with the community. We do this with our three pillars: community, collaboration, and championship.

A group of people kneeling and standing waving and smiling at the camera.

Cheers to the first Black Girl Florists Conference in 2021. We meet annually to connect and share our talent with one another. Photo provided by Valerie Crisostomo.

Looking ahead to our October events at Longwood, to be able to share our background and expertise is an honor and we look forward to learning together.  Looking back to how we got to today, and in anticipation of these October events, we’d like to share a bit of our stories—each of which with similar starting points.

Erica fell in love with flowers completely by accident. She temporarily relocated to Los Angeles and fell in love with the world of wedding and event planning while she was there. She eventually left Los Angeles and started her first business as a wedding planner in Boston before transitioning into floristry. Today, with 15 years of floral training and vast experience designing events for network television to large-scale events, Erica leads O Luxe Design, through which she “tells a beautiful story” with each and every design. Erica believes in three main things: being vibrant, being unique, and producing events that have showmanship.

A person arranging flowers on a ruby and gold decorated table.

Erica Jones of O Luxe Designs. Photo provided by Erica Jones.

A person with short black hair in a black leather jacket holding a stem of white flowers.

Tasha Flowers of Tasha Flowers Florist. Photo provided by Tasha Flowers.

Tasha also fell into floral work by accident! It was a matchup of boldness paired with fate. A formally trained and certified seasoned florist of 26 years, Tasha holds a marketing degree from the University of Baltimore’s Merrick School of Business. She has been published in multiple magazines including Florists Review, has been featured on every news channel in her hometown, and has been nationally showcased on The Drew Barrymore Show, among other achievements.

For me, I started out studying hospitality at Florida State University and worked as an event planner before jumping head first into flowers, deciding to trade my event-planner clipboard for a pair of shears. As a florist, I have been able to combine my two loves: events and flowers. My design aesthetic is a combination of light and airy with a saturation of buds poked in and out to create depth in my arrangements—and I’m always looking for the creative space to add flowers to any structures that are stationary or suspended.

Combined, Erica, Tasha, and I have over 25 years of flower and event experience and have been published in numerous publications including Premier Weddings, Munaluchi Brides, and Harper’s Bazaar. The journey for each of us has been filled with unexpected challenges and success stories of happy customers and clients and we look forward to sharing ourselves with you with our upcoming events at Longwood.

The first of those events is the Transformative Design floral lecture taking place the evening of October 5 in Longwood’s Ballroom or via livestream. During this lecture, the three of us will explore the transformative power of design, speaking to how our work has transformed over time and how the work itself has transformed us. Using our favorite flowers, we’ll work together to create an installation-scale design of autumn jewel tones, followed by a reception.

The following day, Erica and Tasha will lead the Elegant Canopy Design masterclass workshop, during which they’ll lead students in working both independently and with their peers to create a canopy arrangement of flowers with fall jewel tones over a staged table, paired with individual runners that mirror the canopy’s design. During the class, students will practice staging the design while considering the table setting as a whole, and leave with a runner reminiscent of the canopy to display on your own table at home.

A canopy of flowers in pinks and peach over a white table.

During the October 6 Elegant Canopy Design masterclass, explore and create canopy arrangements and individual runners that mirror the canopy’s design. Photo provided by Valerie Crisostomo.

Erica and Tasha will also lead that day’s Asymmetric Compote Design intermediate workshop, during which students will learn how to create a dynamic centerpiece with an asymmetric twist. This step-by-step, hands-on class will involve working with materials in beautiful autumn jewel tones while discovering how asymmetric design can add movement and visual interest—plus, students will leave with a table-ready design to display at home.

An asymetrical floral arrangement in a gold vase sitting on a white table cloth.

In this asymmetrical arrangement, I worked with eucalyptus and Scabiosa to bring this design to life. During the October 6 Asymmetric Compote Design workshop, delve into the possibilities of asymmetric design. Photo provided by Valerie Crisostomo.

These three upcoming events at Longwood are part of our floral design journey and a way in which we can not only share the beauty and power of floral design, but the beauty and power of all that Black Girl Florists does. We look forward to sharing our stories, our passions, and our talents with you.

Editor’s note: Join Valerie, Erica, and Tasha for the October 5 Transformative Design floral lecture, October 6 Elegant Canopy Design masterclass workshop, and October 6 Asymmetric Compote Design intermediate workshop. Registration is required for each.

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