A floral designer partners with God in arranging His most beautiful creations to celebrate birth, death and everything in-between. My mother didn’t work outside the home until we were all in school and then mostly part time doing menial jobs like motel maid or waitress. Then on one bright lovely day she answered an add in the local newspaper for a job caring for plants at Slaughs greenhouses in Price. It changed her life. It gave her a career.
When mother returned from her motel or waitress work her face would be flushed and her body slumped with exhaustion but not at the greenhouse. There was a visible serenity at the end of her day. She often commented on the smell of the moist air and the joy of the sprightly new plants and exotic roses. Mother worked alone in a quiet meditative state planting, watering, pruning and picking the fresh new blooms for use in Slaughs Price floral shop. It was a job she never stopped being joyful about.
It all changed after a couple of years, when the Slaugh family invited mother to learn flower design, and perhaps not a change for the better. Memorial Day, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, funerals and wedding are pressure cookers in floral shops but my mother adjusted and she was a good designer, trained by her coworkers in a very traditional method. Working gave my mother some freedom and independence that was good. My dad was very tightfisted with money and she never really had things she needed or wanted until she had her own income. Floral Design was a perfect fit for her artistic nature and she created with joy all the remaining days of her life. The last 2 years, before her untimely brain tumor, mother sold her silk floral designs in Aunt Addys with me. She wanted to continue arranging florals even as the tumor was ravaging her body.
I have my mother’s artist genes, for sure. I started sewing at a young age and it was a creative adventure for me. (Read “Things I Have Sewed”) I eventually moved to crafts of various kinds including sewing crafts. Silk flowers became the rage in the 80’s and when a group of friends opened a co-op gift shop I began arranging silk flowers, with no training other than having watched my mother. I never cooked when I was young but my mother cooked so I knew it was something I could do if I wanted to. So it was with floral design.
My style eventually evolved apart from my mothers, as happens with all artists, and my creations sold well in Aunt Addys gift shop. I became a silk floral arranger, working in my basement, obsessed with it, as I had been with sewing and crafts, for the next 15 years or so. Those little Chinese guys do an amazing job of creating copies of God’s beautiful flowers and I loved them all. Perusing the wholesale houses for new flowers was like what I imagine a drug high would be. For some years Mike and I or my mother and I picked a van load of rice grass in Spanish Fork canyon to use as filler for my arrangements when the “country” look was in. I made wreaths with hand picked grapevines and a beaded weed that grew in the hills behind our Farmington house. I sit here writing this not quite understanding my drive. I didn’t need to work. I had better things to do, like being a mother. I have some regrets.
When Maren was in High School she made some small arrangements and wreaths to sell in the store. She had an obvious talent from the beginning. The first year after high school, when she was attending Salt Lake Community College, she answered a newspaper add placed by Tai Pan Trading. At the time they were a one store wholesale floral seller but have expanded to almost 6 mega gift stores. In the beginning they created mass-produced floral designs to sell in grocery stores and also design ideas with store merchandise. Maren was hired and worked there until she married and moved to South Carolina. Needing a job in her new town, she found the biggest and best floral shop in Columbia, Rosewood Floral, and talked the owner into teaching her how to arrange fresh flowers. (Mary became Maren’s mentor and mother figure) One year later Maren won second place in a state design contest, unheard of for someone working in the field for only a year and so young. Oh, and she was going to school full time getting on the deans list.
Maren moved from the big flower shop to Chinaberry, a small upscale gift, floral shop combination. They were often hired for the cities most expensive weddings and parties. Once when I visited Columbia her boss Peggy told me about a wedding Maren designed that cost $20,000, just for the flowers. Peggy said they were all blown away as Maren went into the woods and pulled out vines to drape on the stairway of the reception center. Her boss said the flower arrangements and garlands were amazing. Everything she did was uniquely Maren, with flare. She definitely has her own style.
After finishing her merchandising degree Maren got a job with a tile and granite store helping customers design their kitchens. She was good at that also. After 8 years in South Carolina she moved back to Utah taking a job with a Salt Lake granite installer. A few months later she bumped into her old boss from Tai Pan in Home Depot. He asked her what she was doing and if she would like to come back to work for them. In the last 5 years she has opened 5 of Tai Pans new stores, doing displays and floral design. She is now working on the 6th store in California.
So Mother, you started something. Isn’t it interesting how taking that job in Slaugh’s Nursery affected your female prodigy. Was it genes or environment? I am not sure but it has bonded us together if nothing else.
My mother Mollie Marvell in her Slaugh Floral Days
My wedding flowers arranged by my mother
First botique with my mother. The beginning of my flower days.
Newspaper article about Aunt Addys
The first co-op gift shope in the state
Maren's College Graduation - University of South Carolina
Maren her Rosewood Floral days
Maren with coworker at Chinaberry