After 10+ years of designing for and growing other peoples' businesses, Britta Wilson decided it was time to launch her own. Through Iron Violets Design Studio, Britta believes in beautiful, handmade products and supporting other local businesses. Located in St. Paul, Iron Violets is the only flower shop that delivers metro-wide 7 days a week until 10pm. Whether you need a rustic autumnal door wreath that will last for years, a congratulations fresh arrangement, or flowers for a wedding with 400 guests, Britta assures that Iron Violets can do it all while exceeding your expectations.
See Britta's work at the upcoming Maker Faire MSP at the MN State Fairgrounds Grandstand on June 2, 2018. This event serves as a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these "makers" to share their hobbies, experiments, and projects. More details about the show here!
Talk about the beginnings of Iron Violets. What inspired you to begin this endeavor?
I'd been working in traditional retail shops for 8-10 years when I was offered a position managing the small floral department of a very large and well-known Garden Center in St Paul. In less than 3 years sales tripled in that department and we went from doing 0 weddings to over 40 before the end of the third year. It was there that I learned that floral design is so much more than vases, bunches and daisy baskets. That greenhouse brought me face to face with succulents, Tillandsia (Air Plants), Container Gardening and Wreath making etc. Unfortunately even though the flower shop was doing well, that business closed in 2014. After that I went to work for a tech start up that was expanding their restaurant delivery services to include floral and gifts. It was there that I learned the hard way what was most important things about running a studio flower shop and how to successfully get your business online. I got a crash course in web design, marketing, photography, SEO, ROI, all of it. It was intense and very stressful at times but it really gave me the tools I needed to move on to creating my own business.
What do you find interesting/meaningful about working with flowers?
There are no full stops in floral design; you are limited only by how far your creativity can take you. Whether I am making pieces for everyday orders, or creating a custom wedding that feels like my clients, the creative process is always my safety net.
I feel like creativity is something that has always spoken to me. A long time ago I used to paint and draw. I was very involved in theater at a young age and continued to be through college, and when I did discover my passion for floral design, it seemed to be exactly what I had wanted to do all along. It was the best way to take what I learned about lighting, texture, color and design, and mix it up with a splash of last minute drama and showmanship. Stick a price tag on it, drag it to a show, and sell, sell, sell.
In terms of living and making in Minnesota, do you feel connected to this place?
I was born in Northern MN, I lived in New England until I was 18 and moved back after high school to go to college in Duluth at UMD. This place and its people have an energy all their own. I love being a business owner here and I love raising my children here. There is always something different and exciting to find and explore here. It’s diverse, it’s artistic, it’s historical and traditional all at the same time. Life, owning a business, and raising a family is about balance and patience. St. Paul, Minnesota is a wonderful place to find those things.
Why is supporting local businesses, artists, and makers important to you?
I am a local business, and have always felt strongly about supporting small business in any way I could. Iron Violets Design Studio carries products made by other small, locally (female) owned businesses. Our enclosure cards are all handmade by a woman in my West 7th Neighborhood, and they’re always included with purchase. We’ve recently partnered with a local bakery studio and a photographer to create a one stop shopping experience for wedding couples. We call ourselves ‘Three Hats Wedding Essentials’ and the idea is just to make coordinating, finding and booking photo, bakery and flowers for your wedding faster, easier and cheaper. It’s been a blast working with these ladies on projects together and our couples find that only having to contact one person to communicate with all three of those services relieves stress and they love it!
Do you feel like making and creating through your business allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself?
Absolutely. I feel like I am there for people; whether it’s their birthday, their wedding day, or the day they say goodbye to a loved one. Flowers have different meanings to different people. For me, Peonies remind me of my grandmother’s garden as a child. White roses remind me of a friend who died years ago when I was first starting out in design. His was my first casket spray that I'd ever made. Gardenias remind me of my senior prom, and Calla Lilies remind me of my husband. He had tried to send me my favorite flowers on opening night of a play I was doing in Duluth. The designer who took his order was very confused when he kept insisting that Cow Lilies were my favorite flower. Everyone has these connections to different flowers and plants. I just have to figure out what each of those important blooms are for my clients. It’s like being a floral bartender sometimes.