Big City Blooms
Crazy traffic, celebrity clientele, cutting-edge design; it’s just another day in the life of these NYC florists.
As the iconic lyric by Frank Sinatra says, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” The floral designers who hustle amid this thriving metropolis of more than 8.5 million people can certainly attest to this. While a few of the New York City floral retailers featured here have a rich history and reputation behind them – some since the 1900s – others are newer to the scene and have focused on forging their own unique paths.
No matter how you slice it, appealing to the highly discerning and, at times, celebrity clientele that the Big Apple is known for takes much more than simply arranging flowers in a vase. These urban florists often tend to launch trends of cutting-edge floral artistry and botanical innovation that set the tone for the rest of the country. Exceptional customer service, exquisite presentation, and highly prompt and accurate delivery is a given, not an option, in NYC where a daily parking ticket, or 10 (really!), is simply a cost of doing business.
Rosehip takes pride in offering a modern, eclectic, botanical style of floristry. Owner Pola Apolonia Rebisz, a former auditor, opened her shop about five years ago after she found herself spending every waking moment gardening, creating centerpieces for friends’ weddings and building plant sculptures. She says Rosehip is known for experimenting and using flowers and greens in unusual ways.
“Recently, we’ve been loving using dried items and painting anything we can get our hands on,” Rebisz says, citing the example of Rosehip’s popular Valentine’s Day arrangement named “Love Nest.” “It featured a mix of fresh and dried elements and painted feathers. It was a wild hit!”
Since opening Rosehip, Rebisz has noticed the volume of events is quite high. “There are a lot of people in NYC, and they like to throw parties and celebrations,” she says. “Our days are full of weddings, rehearsal dinners, galas, and birthday and anniversary parties.”
“Tetris-ing” is another way of life in Gotham. “There’s so little room! Our shop, basement, van and storage space are small. Everything has to pack tight, be organized vertically and stored in an epic Tetris [ video game ] style,” says Rebisz.
In addition to distinctive floral designs, Rosehip features hundreds of plants and likes to focus on “surviving” types – or those that will live through work, travel, Brooklyn’s drafty windows and dry winter heating systems. “There are often days during which we sell more plants than flowers,” she says.
Yet Rosehip is committed to using more locally sourced blooms from Long Island and upstate New York farms as well as experimenting with growing some of its own. The shop works toward zero-waste and reuses and repurposes as much as possible, from giving away plastic containers to neighbors to use as seed sprouting kits to composting anything and everything else, to the tune of 200 pounds per week – more than five tons per year!
Nic Faitos, owner of Starbright Floral Design, speaking at an in-store event for Forbes Councils.
A window display at Starbright Floral Design
A bespoke arrangement from Starbright Floral Design
Part of the Starbright Floral Design team in front of a Forbes Councils flower wall inside the store
Chelsea neighborhood, Manhattan
Located on 26th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, in the historic Chelsea neighborhood – just two blocks south of the New York City Flower District, Starbright Floral Design has served New York City for more than 25 years. The floral retailer, which was formed in the fall of 1994, was founded by Nic and Eva Faitos on a culture of enthusiasm and passion for flowers, with the mission statement, “When the history books write the Starbright story, we will be judged kindly if we always remember to do our best; give everyone we meet a smile; and lead our industry with innovation, creativity, quality and service.”
Starbright features a team of more than 70 and a 7,000- square-foot flower and plant emporium that provides modern, trend-forward florals and botanicals for some of NYC’s most prestigious events, hotels and corporations. The florist offers corporate event and destination-wedding services, weekly floral delivery, a loyalty floral program, hospital delivery and on-site plant care as well as daily floral delivery.
Starbright has been nationally recognized for its contribution to the floral industry, as well as for its exceptional level of customer service – something Nic Faitos says is no mistake.“I don’t find NYC to be a difficult place to establish yourself in the floral industry. If you position yourself in a professional manner, the market will be kind to you,” he shares. “There are more opportunities for success in NYC than in a smaller market.
“However, you will be judged harshly if you do not adhere to the high standards of quality and service that the city demands,” he cautions. “Stay true to your word and keep your promises, and there is no easier market in which to succeed.”
NoMad neighborhood, Manhattan
Designs by Ahn is the vision of floral and event designer Victoria Ahn. This floral designer translates her professional modern dance and ballet training, as well as her experience in interior design, to create floral arrangements that she describes as “living art.” Each arrangement has its own distinctive style, and a lot of effort goes into each detail pertaining to textures and hues. Every presentation aims to set a specific mood.
Ahn’s versatility spans all styles – elegant and natural, chic and modern, and rustic and organic. With more than 10 years of experience, Ahn has designed countless special events at premier venues in New York City and the surrounding areas. Her shop, on Manhattan’s storied Fifth Avenue (at 28th Street), in the borough’s NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) neighborhood, offers wedding and event services, daily delivery as well as weekly and monthly delivery service.
Flower district/Chelsea neighborhood, Manhattan
Founded in 2009, Gabriela Wakeham Floral Design is a Manhattan luxury florist that offers a design-driven and sophisticated visual aesthetic with its floral arrangements. Wakeham follows a boutique approach in her shop, which in on 28th Street, in the Flower District, and she believes in hand-picking blooms that are produced with sustainable and responsible growing practices. Designers at Gabriela Wakeham are experienced but younger, offering fresh ideas and contemporary thinking with regard to arrangements and installations. The shop is known for its beautiful upscale orchids and roses as well as its exceptional designs with callas and peonies, in both classic and modern styles. Gabriela Wakeham has significant experience designing large installations, editorial and film projects, premier corporate events, charity galas, personal celebrations and elegant weddings. The company also caters to a VIP and celebrity clientele and takes pride in artfully wrapping and packaging every arrangement that goes out with a specialized concierge delivery crew.
Manhattan and Brooklyn
Gramercy Park Flower Shop has been a New York City institution since 1904, when Peter and Spiros Sakas – two immigrant brothers from Greece – turned a flower cart in Union Square into a storefront shop at 21st Street and Third Avenue, in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan.
Today, the shop lives at The Plaza hotel – on 58th Street, just west of Fifth Avenue, across from the southeast corner of Central Park – as well as in a design studio in the hip Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Tom Sakas took over the business in 1985 and has kept his grandfather’s and father’s legacies flourishing ever since. Sakas is committed to maintaining the same level of quality and attention to detail that allowed the shop to set the standards for New York City’s floral industry for more than 115 years. The full-service florist offers romantic, modern and garden styles for local delivery, as well as for banquets, events, weddings, home décor and corporate services. Gramercy Park also offers exotic plants and even terrace/garden design, irrigation and lighting services.