Oh, You Pretty Things!
I met Omaha interior designer Julie Hockney last fall when I toured her beautiful interior design studio, and I've been a big fan of her work ever since.
I knew Julie was also the owner of Bouquet, a floral shop in the Blackstone District that I'd been admiring on Instagram, and, that night, I also met Lauren Barratt, one of Bouquet's floral designers who was creating a huge, magical, sculptural arrangement before our very eyes. Plus, Bouquet's other designer, Mark Griffith, is the brother of a friend whom I adore and admire very much. For me, the whole darling enterprise just seemed wrapped in the language of love.
So, of course I wanted to write about them for Valentine's Day. When I went to the shop to speak with Mark one cold morning last week, I half-expected to stand outside waiting for him to let me in. But, nope, Bouquet was open for business and already buzzing with the day's orders.
"When we opened three years ago, I used to leave the door locked when I was in here by myself," Mark recalls of the days when the neighborhood was dodgier and the shop mainly handled pre-orders. "But now, there are so many people living and working in the Blackstone, that we actually get a lot of walk-in business."
This includes people who want to bring flowers to patients at the Med Center, customers popping in to pick up blooms for a birthday dinner at a nearby restaurant and local residents and businesses who have fresh flowers on their weekly shopping list.
Bouquet also does corporate and nonprofit events, including some community outreach projects for organizations that are near and dear to their hearts. But, it will come as no surprise that weddings are their bread and buttercups.
"We love weddings!" Mark says. "It's really fun to be able to work with brides and help them plan the wedding of their dreams. And then to be there with them, and get to see how excited they are when they see their flowers for the first time on their special day."
Mark, who worked at a flower shop as a teenager, then went to school for civil engineering before returning full-time to floral design about twenty years ago, says that the modern bride has a much more cohesive idea of what she wants, thanks to the internet and platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
"We want to be sure we're giving brides what they want, and what they've been dreaming about," Mark says. "But we also want to show them that there are so many interesting things out there that they might not have considered. For example, this year's Pantone color of the year is ultra-violet, and I really hope that there are some brides who want to explore that as part of their color palette because it could be so beautiful."
Mark says that his personal favorite flowers to work with right now are peonies, ranunculus and garden roses, but that it's not so much about a specific flower for him as it is about experimenting with different colors and textures. "We try to set ourselves apart by incorporating greenery that is more graphic, like monstera leaves, and creating a more unique and organic shape."
Bouquet also hosts workshops throughout the year where friends can get together to learn how to make their own show stopping arrangements. Coming up in February is Arrange with Personality on the 26th and Inspired by The Irish on March 15 (call 402.905.0589 to reserve a spot). "We want people to have fun and come away with a new appreciation of flowers," Mark says.