FLORIST | ARTIST INTERVIEW ///
"Melinda Lynch of Festive Designs devotes herself to her passion of floral design, not only with her brides, but with her students at Cal Poly. I would not be doing what I love today if it wasn't for her passion in teaching floral design and being part of her Student AIFD team. She is a true mentor in the floral community and has taught many students the techniques and foundation of floral design, which is very important in this industry. Many of those students do go on to create their own floral business or become wedding industry members, but rather than thinking of it as a threat to her own business, she is raising the bar and making our floral industry better as a whole."
How did you get started doing what you do?
Melinda: When I was a little girl visiting my grandmother, one of our special rituals would be to fill her home with flowers. She'd hand me a basket and snips and then send me out into the garden to collect whatever I wanted. Then I'd come back inside and she'd set out all her vases and I would get to design them however I wanted. I loved that freedom and creativity. Being able to work with some of nature's most beautiful creations and turn them into something else was so fun for me. Those early experiences inspired me to choose Horticulture as my major in college, work in a flower shop on the side, and eventually make it my career.
Who or what continues to inspires you?
Melinda: I love how my industry is always changing and evolving. The growers are always developing new flowers and specialty varieties. The container and supply companies are always coming out with new fun products to play with in terms of containers, decorative wire, and accessories. The floral design magazines arrive to my door each month filled with cutting edge designs, new trends, and information about what's new in the industry. I love all of that. It's so exciting to be able to play around with a new product, test out a trending design, all of that. It's so inspiring and keeps me fresh.
What makes your business unique?
Melinda: It seems that more and more, what makes me unique is mostly how LONG I've been doing this. We're coming up on 30 years of owning and operating Festive Designs. It's crazy to think about. That's a long time. I've seen a lot of fellow florists come and go during that time. But I'm really proud of that, and I think many brides appreciate that kind of experience and perspective. There's not much we haven't seen and dealt with. :)
How would you describe your ideal couple?
Melinda: I love it when a bride comes in with a really strong vision of what she wants, and she's passionate about it. It's so fun to watch their excitement and help them bring it to life. I also love it when I can tell she's ENJOYING the process and allows herself to be fully present. You can get so lost and bogged down in the stress and details sometimes....you lose sight of the purpose. It's all about the love.
Nicolette: I love it when they want something different. When they've decided for themselves what will be a reflection of them as a couple and define their personal style. I'm always kind of disappointed when I show up to a wedding and they've just done what's trendy on Pinterest or what they've seen before. All of those weddings start to look the same...and no two couples are the same! Don't be afraid to blaze your own trail and make the day your own!
What's your business philosophy?
Melinda: It really all comes down to treating people how you want to be treated. I like to be clear with my clients from the very beginning about what they'll be getting. I don't like to be vague with them or make promises I can't keep. Oftentimes, that means I am educating them about flowers, pricing, and the whole process. And I enjoy that. When you're in my industry, you're usually dealing with some of the most emotional moments of their lives. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, anniversaries, forgiveness, celebration, etc. It's important to me to remember that and to take that responsibility seriously. So when it comes to things like weddings, I really like to be there for my clients. I don't like to just drop it all off and leave. I want to be there in case a boutonniere gets squished, a bloom starts to wilt, etc. I'm invested in their satisfaction. At the end of the year, I want to be able to reflect back and know that I made as many brides truly happy as possible, and not necessarily that I maxed out every weekend. It's all about quality, not quantity with us.
Favorite part of a wedding?
Melinda: There are two. For me, it's when I hand the bride her bouquet. I love that moment. Oftentimes, I think it's what makes it seem really "real" to her. Like "wow" all of the hard work and endless decision making is over, this is really happening now, my vision is coming to life. It's really cool to watch that realization wash over her face.
The second one is really for the bride & groom. It's the moment the couple first sees each other. Whether it's during a staged "first look" or as the bride turns the corner to walk down the aisle. It's usually when they both forget that anyone else is around and really focus on each other and become totally present in the moment. It's really special to watch.
Nicolette: I love that moment when the ceremony is over and the bride and groom reach the end of the aisle. There are a few seconds where they get to be alone for the first time before the rest of their wedding party and family reach them. I love to see what their response is. Sometimes it's all smiles and kisses. Sometimes they look at each other with this this "OMG that just happened!" expression. Sometimes it's tears and laughter. You never know. And very few people get to witness that moment. I always feel really privileged when I get to be privy to that.
Why do you do what you do?
Melinda: From a very young age, I knew that I never wanted to work at an office behind a desk. I wanted the kind of job where every day would be different. As a farmer's daughter, I knew I wanted to be close to nature...without having to ACTUALLY be a farmer. :) Once I grew up and realized that this could be my career, that I could play with flowers and make people happy for a living....I was sold. I really love what I do. I love the creativity, I love helping people, and I love flowers.
What question do you always ask the Bride & Groom?
Melinda: I so rarely get to meet or interact with the groom before the wedding day. When he does come to the consultation, it's always really fun though! But usually, besides all of the logistic type questions, I simply ask, "So what's your vision?" and I let them take it from there. From that question I can usually tell if she's got a strong metal picture for what she wants, or if she needs my help to create it.
How do you normally begin your day?
Melinda: Before I get out of bed, I do two things. I give thanks for the day, and declare to myself that today will be a good day. It helps set my intention for the rest of the day. Next, I usually drink a glass of warm water with a wedge of lemon squeezed in. Basically, I like a fresh start to the day from the inside out!
Nicolette: My mornings are much more manic. It's usually "How late am I today?" or "How much longer can I stay in bed?" I hope that one day, I'll have the kind of thoughtful, spiritual process that my mother has.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
Melinda: Professionally speaking, it was becoming a member of AIFD. If you don't know, it stands for American Institute of Floral Designers. It's a rigorous process that includes an application, an online test, and then the in-person, hands-on design exam. It's basically like getting your Phd in floral design and places you in an elite class of fellow designers. It was a dream of mine for many years that I proudly accomplished in 2002.
Personally speaking, it would be my daughter. I'm proud that she's a well-rounded individual who is successful, wise and loving.
What do you enjoy doing on your day off?
Melinda: Do I ever have one? LOL There's always something to do!! But on those rare occasions, I like to take a nap, go out to lunch, play a round of golf, spend time at the beach, or watch the SF Giants!
Nicolette: I love my quiet Sunday mornings at home with my husband. We drink coffee, watch football, make pancakes, and relax before the reality of Monday sets in.
Tell us about your first job?
Melinda: Besides working my father on our family ranch as child growing up, my first real job as an adult was at the local newspaper. I was 18 and responsible for typing out classified ads and captions on an actual typewriter, which would later be literally cut and pasted onto the paper's layout. I absolutely hated it. I was there for one month until I saw a "help wanted" sign in the window of a floral shop down the street. I applied immediately, and the rest is history!
Nicolette: For my mother. I know, shocking. Besides some occasional babysitting, that was my main gig until I got to college. Once at Cal Poly I worked at the Poly Plant Shop on campus for 3 years. I know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
OK, tell us your Nickname(s)?
Melinda: Mindy. That's what my family and close friends call me.
Tell us one thing few people know about you?
Melinda: I was a total jock back in the day. In high school I played basketball, bad-mitten, track, tennis and field hockey. I played softball all throughout college too. Currently, I love to play golf, watch football and baseball. I'm a 49ers and Giants fan!
Nicolette: I love to camp, I hate white wine, I know how to drive a tractor, and I once saw Oprah in a grocery store.
Wedding trend that your loving right now?
Melinda: I love the amount of lace I'm seeing these days. In dresses, ribbons, tablecloths, everything. I think it looks so soft and romantic. But in general, I try not to get too attached to any one trend too much. Partially because they eventually pass and it's best to not get overly attached, but also so that I don't let my personal taste influence my clients too much. I really want it to be what THEY like, not what I think they should like.
Nicolette: I love that the glitz and glam is coming back. I'm seeing less of the mismatched, backyard DIY look, and more of the formal, classic wedding design. I have a soft spot for fancy table linens, candlelight, real champagne glasses and assigned seating. It feels more romantic to me that way. Getting married is a big deal, it should feel that way.
Wedding trend that will hopefully be out next year?
Melinda: I'm truly happy to create anything that a bride wants. But if you MADE me choose, I probably wouldn't shed a tear of baby's breath and gerbera daisies became really unpopular.
Nicolette: I am truly over mason jars. There are so many other, better, prettier containers to choose from. Leave the jars to the jam y'all.
Melinda: "May your troubles be less, your blessings more, and may nothing but happiness come through your door." - Irish Proverb. I love how positive it is. It's what I wish for all the people I love.
Nicolette: "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." I'm not sure who said it, but I love it. No matter where life takes you, or how successful you become- how you treat people will always be your true legacy.
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Melinda: I loved growing up on a ranch with my siblings. We had SO much fun. I miss the freedom of being outside all day, doing whatever we wanted. Eating fresh fruit from a tree, fishing, riding horses, using our imaginations, jumping in the creek, you name it. It wasn't until I left, and raised a child in the city that I realized what a blessing it must have been for my parents to let their kids play outside, all day, without any fear. We were safe out on our private property. It was our little world to explore, with no schedule or restrictions.
Nicolette: Watching Saturday morning cartoons in my pajamas drinking chocolate milk knowing I had nowhere to be and nothing I had to do that day. Putting on impromptu dance performances with my fellow neighbor girls in our backyards. Playing in the ocean, pool, or sprinklers for literally hours without a care in the world! I had a great childhood.
What's in the top 5 of your bucket list?
1. Make a living being a florist. Check!
2. Go to Europe. Check!
3. Go to Machu Picchu - To do.
4. Go to Hawaii - Check!
5. Speak Spanish fluently - To do.
1. Go to Ireland - Check!
2. Go to Alaska - Check!
3. Go to Lambeau Field- To do.
4. Go to Paris - To do.
5. Own property with deer - To do.
Where do you see yourself (or business) in the near future?
Melinda: Having fun! That's always the goal!