I recently spent some time with Alise at Sweet Marie Designs as part of my Artists at Work Series. There is such an abundance of creative talent that goes into a wedding day and it's so amazing to get to know other vendors in the industry and to discover what fuels them. Alise and I were in Santa Barbara a couple months ago with our dear friend Ashley and one morning she created a truly beautiful and unique piece and let me capture her process. I always get to see her creations when they are finished, so watching her create something from nothing and seeing how she works was completely inspiring.
What do you do?
We are a floral design and event styling company focused on creating unique and one of a kind arrangements that encapsulate the essence and heart of our clients. Our designs are soft and romantic while still whimsical, as if it’s been put together from foraged foliage and blooms from the garden.
What inspires you? Or who?
Nature is the one thing that puts me back into my place. If I am having a crazy hectic week, month, day, whatever … and I retreat into nature I am refreshed and see things properly. As far as a person goes, Carissa from JL Designs and Heather from Amorology are two people in the industry that I am constantly looking at for creative inspiration. Those women have great design minds and are constantly impressing me! The greatest part too is they are both really humble amazing and caring individuals.
Where are you located?
We are located in Orange County but love traveling to design for events as well. Most of our clients are based out of Orange County or LA but we frequently have events spanning from San Diego all the way up to Santa Barbara.
Who is your favorite artist?
Photography: Edward Weston
Art Architecture: Richard Serra
Floral creations: Flowerwild
Can you go into your process a little? How do you like to work with a client?
All right, get comfy because floral design entails much more than one might assume.
After receiving an inquiry from a client and reviewing their needs (to make sure the design request aligns with our brand), we sit down with our clients and get to know them a little bit better. Each design is unique to the person requesting it and we want to make every effort to understand each vision. After the consultation process we provide a proposal and go from there. As their event date approaches, whether it is a party, wedding, corporate meeting, or in house installation, we check in with the client to see if any last minute changes need to occur. Depending upon the event type this happens about a month away from the date of the event as final payments and floral orders are due three weeks prior. We send in our stem counts and floral orders to our vendors at three weeks to make sure the growers have time to fill the order and communicate to us, via our vendors, if there are any foreseeable crop issues.
Two to three days prior to the event (dependent on bloom type, event size, and design intensity) we go to the market(s) to pick up our ordered product. We inspect all the blooms to ensure quality, check to make sure each stem ordered is there, and then prep the blooms. Each stem is cleaned of undesired leaves and/or thorns, given a fresh cut, and placed in fresh water to hydrate (flowers are shipped to the market out of water and kept at the proper temperature to stay alive). Once all the blooms and vessels are prepped and cleaned we start to design the base of greenery for our arrangements. These two processes together take a full day to two days. Once we have our base set, we start the fun stuff!! We add in blooms and play with the shape and design of the arrangements. We start first with any focal floral (these tend to be your larger blooms), work our way to difficult stemmed items, add in the base blooms such as garden roses, ranunculus, and lisianthus (just to name some of out favorites), and then add the fishing touches with our most whimsical and wild blooms to create that effortlessly natural feel.
When designing for a wedding, personals are left to the last design day. They are made first thing in the morning as we are then well rested and ready to start a fresh day. The whole day is dedicated to personals and they are kept fresh in a floral cooler.
The day of the event we greet our clients and show them their pieces. The best moments are when clients stop in their tracks and give us a hug out of excitement or when brides tear up as we hand them their bouquets. From start to finish the process of one event is anywhere from 35 – 75 hours.
What are some of your favorite tools that you use?
My teal pair of ARS HP-130DX 7-Inch shears. Even though the other colors are the same I always go for those ones. I love the lock feature they have on them. I’m constantly cutting my fingers so an easy lock feature is helpful. Also they cut like a beast!
What is favorite type of Italian food?
Oh man. Well pizza is a given but manicotti has been a favorite for a long time.
What is your favorite way to unwind?
Yoga at Corepower, walks on the beach, or sipping a really good Carmel cappuccino at a cute little café. Right now I really love Café Zinc in Laguna Beach by my house.
If I’m being lazy, then TV.
Where is your favorite place to travel to and why?
Big Sur. It’s the one place close that has both the mountains and the ocean!! What more could you want. Also Big Sur has always held a special place in my heart as many major road trips have centered around this location.
Sweet or Salty?
Both simultaneously, but if I have to pick one sweets for sure – I have a problem.
Mountains or beach?
Can’t a girl have both? Remember Big Sur is my favorite place!!
What is your favorite photo in your possession?
Hum… I feel like I have two that I constantly go back to. There is the photo of my husband and I in a barrel room on our wedding day in black and white that I really love and also a photograph of a model holding a huge arrangement I made out of the back of my car in front of her face. Both mean a lot to me because they represent a moment where I let go of a lot of struggle and just lived in the moment.
Thank you Alise for taking the time to share your your space and your talents with me.