If you’ve spent any time in Austin searching out the best food (and who hasn’t??), you’ve probably also seen Samantha Jensen’s work. Besides creating arrangements for incredible weddings and events (and occasionally lending a hand to our in-house floral team), she also builds arrangements for some of the raddest restaurant and hotel accounts throughout Austin. Today we sit down with Sam to learn more about her creative process, building a small business, and get some advice on taking the leap.
It’s such an interesting story to me, that you hadn’t necessarily intended to become a florist. From our conversations I’ve gathered that it’s something you sort of fell into (and happen to be so magical and natural at). Will you share with our readers the story of how your path brought you to the business you run today?
“I first became manager of local specialty coffee shop with plans to own one myself. I began sprucing the shop up with fresh flowers every week and experimenting with arranging them. I’ve always been a creative, as young little lady it was singing and writing songs, then it was painting, now flowers.
The owner of a local Austin restaurant, who was a regular, asked if I would do the same for his business… I said yes. When people began asking the restaurant owner who did the florals for them, they would refer them to me. Shortly after, wedding inquiries began rolling in, I was featured on a handful of blogs, and the number of restaurants I created arrangements for grew quite rapidly. As they say, the rest is history… And still in the making!”
Your arrangements have such a beautiful sense of balance and organic freedom to them. Though none of them look the same, there are stylistic elements that make your work recognizable. How would you describe your style? And can you lead us a bit through how it has developed over time?
“Wow! Thank you! That is a huge compliment. Every time I’m asked this question I blank– Organic, emotional, whimsical, raw…
I guess the development sort of happened on its own. Looking back at my older work I am so embarrassed, I designed some terrible stuff, man! I believe when an artist/creator becomes more familiar and comfortable with their medium their work just gets better and more “them”.”
For those outside of the floral design world, it seems to be all pretty, all the time. Here at TNR, we know that to not always be the case! What elements of your work might surprise those who haven’t done it before?
“Hahah this is SO true! Every job has its ugly side- life has it’s ugly sides. The flowers smell after they’ve been sitting in water for days. And guess who gets to clean those stinky flowers and stinky buckets, this girl! Also, that beautiful wedding that got published on a blog?? It was actually raining, freezing, on a ladder during a lightning storm with mud everywhere, flowers missing, a major time crunch, and then got sick afterwards!
More seriously though, I probably have a monthly cry sesh over things like just being overwhelmingly busy, getting an email from one of my weekly clients saying their flowers are dying too quickly so they want a refund, feeling like I don’t measure up to the rest, feeling like people don’t take me seriously enough. It’s an industry very much run by women, which is incredible in so many ways, but also has its own challenges. Every day is a day to analyze what I could be doing better!”
What have been some of the most challenging aspects of creating and running your own business and what have you done to address or overcome them? The most rewarding? Or surprisingly easy?
“I think the hardest thing has been balancing relationships: Relationship with myself, my husband, my friends, my family. It doesn’t help that I struggled with this before I ever started Bricolage, so now I have to be super aware of how I’m delegating my time. I’ve still not overcome this. Owning and running a business calls for vulnerability and that, my friends, is scary as hell. The most rewarding thing has been the experience as a whole. Never did I think I would be where I am today at age 24. Being a young business owner has lots of little challenges, mostly from lack of life experience, but all the life things I have learned are priceless.”
What advice would you give to those looking to start a career in floral design? And to those looking to start a small business? (what do you wish someone would have told you when you were starting out??)
“Oh gosh, I still need help on most days! So I guess I’d say a few things… Don’t be afraid to ask the pro’s for help, there is a great floral community out there! Be fearless. Or pretend you are. Fake confidence until it becomes real (I struggle with confidence daily!) I think this quote sort of coincides with what I just said but… “Fake it till you make it, homie” that’s my motto, for real.”
What do you love most about your job?
“Flowers make people happy. The joy and genuine interest I get to witness on folks’ faces when they encounter floral design is the most satisfying thing. The fact that something organic can express so much emotion and beauty amazes me. Same reasons I love food (real food)– I think most chefs would agree with me that when a person can indulge in something that you’ve created and prepared specifically for them, there is no other feeling.”
Who are your dream collaborators?
“In the floral design world: Putnam & Putnam without a doubt. Those dudes are true artists. Outside the floral world: Chef Francis Mallmann of El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An amazing artist with a beautiful view on how to prepare food in its natural habitat.”
What do you see on the horizon for Bricolage? Are there any things you want to conquer? Secret hopes and dreams?
“I try to take Bricolage day by day. I often get overwhelmed, feeling like I don’t have enough time, probably because there are so many dreams in my noggin!
I try to take whatever is thrown my way and roll with it. Everyone has dreams– most of mine are, in fact, entrepreneurial. Opening a quaint boutique hotel, creating a Bricolage scent, owning a flower art museum in Marfa, collaborating with a chef to design a restaurant, creating floral designs for major fashion shows, having a dinner series in Austin– you know, nothing too crazy…”