House of Margot Blair founder Carly Blair in her Lake Austin shop. Photo by Kate Zimmerman Turpin. Local Business Grappling with the loss of large events due to COVID-19, the local flower shop is putting the petal to the metal.
When Carly Blair started her floral business in 2009, the economy was in a recession, she was denied funding to open a brick-and-mortar, and she was working four part-time jobs to make ends meet. So, this spring, when she lost $30,000 from the cancellation of both SXSW and the majority of her scheduled weddings and events, the entrepreneur took the disruption in stride.
“We started during crazy economic times. That’s what I keep trying to remind myself of: that I’ve done this before,” Blair says. “There’s really no curveball that I haven’t already seen. It’s just about putting my head down and working.”
Long before she started House of Margot Blair , she discovered her talent for floral arrangements by helping out at her aunt’s flower shop as a teenager. A few years later, Blair dropped out of college and moved to Austin, where she landed an internship with a wedding planner that furthered her interest in flowers. Her sister helped her secure her first gig as a wedding florist via popular marriage website The Knot —unearthing a myriad of new opportunities for Blair’s blossoming career.
After weathering the financial crisis, she went full-time with her business in 2012 and eventually opened a brick-and-mortar on Lake Austin Boulevard. With her signature romantic aesthetic, she gravitates toward blooms like peonies, ranunculus, garden roses, anemones, and poppies. “It’s a juxtaposition of ultra-luxe mixed with edgy color combinations that make it modern and fun and unexpected,” she says.
And then COVID-19 hit. Because so many weddings and events have been canceled, scaled back, or postponed until next year, Blair has been forced to find other ways to drum up business. One method has been her virtual floral arrangement classes, in which her company delivers blooms to local participants’ homes and she gives step-by-step instructions via Zoom. Another is her new Margot by Margot Blair service, a less-customized floral option with set prices and arrangements for smaller weddings, events, and even dinner parties. “It’s a way for people to get that high-end, large-scale look that we’re known for, but on a lower budget,” she says.
Although flowers and weddings may seem like superfluous expenses in times of uncertainty, the florist believes small indulgences can alleviate the pains of a particularly difficult stretch. “I remember a story about back in war times with now-Queen Elizabeth II. When she was getting married, people gave part of their fabric rations to her so that way she could still have a wedding dress. And to me that kind of proved that for people, even in the worst of times, a wedding is something that they still want to celebrate, and they’ll use whatever means possible to be able to do it,” she says. “Flowers make people happy.”
- Digital Issues