Kim Starr Wise is no stranger to the ALH blog. Her amazing floral designs are featured in one of our most popular posts of all times, a swamp inspired photo shoot she did with Mrs. Vintage and P.S. Creative. In running one of the most amazing and modern floral shops in New Orleans she’s quickly become known as the go-to lady for inspiring and beautiful arrangements. Most recently, she’s worked on big Superbowl events, Tales of the Cocktail, and the wedding of celeb Lake Bell at the Marigny Opera House here in NOLA. So of course I jumped at the chance to scope out how Kim works her magic. What I found was a great space in Uptown that serves as her home and work studio. The old building is filled to the brim with vases, shelves of ribbon and, of course, blooms of every shade and fragrance. Kim’s creativity thrives on the challenge of creating something unique, while using natural and unusual materials (I spotted vases wrapped in leather belts at one point!). Her team also supplies linens and can help create, or work with, the overall feel of any event. They’ve even designed some ‘veggie jewelry’ for a photo shoot of Poppy Tooker by Dark Roux. I knew I’d found a kindred decorating spirit when she showed me the old Book of Beatles she’d found in NYC complete with paintings of the beutiful bugs on half its pages. I nearly died when she told me she was ripping them out to frame them all. A woman after my own heart, indeed.
You’ve become one of the ladies to know here in NOLA when it comes to floral needs for weddings and events. How’d you get your start?
I like to tell people I have green blood! I have great aunts and uncles who had rose farms and flowers in Ohio. My father is a landscaper and my mom worked in a florist when I was a little girl. So it really came naturally to me. I started working in the floral department in high school and when I was in college worked in one of the oldest flower shops in NYC (three generations owned). I moved around to a few different shops, honing my craft and ended up working in wholesale market on 28th Street in New York. That is where I was able to really grasp how amazing the industry is – there’s so much interesting product to work with – and I met all the large event designers in New York like David Beahm, Preston Bailey, David Tutera and had the opportunity to work with them as a designer.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Creating the look… sitting with my client and dreaming up the possibilities. I love it when there are stars in their eyes and a beaming smile follows. If they’re excited, I’m excited.
You spend your days making everything looks stylish and beautiful. Can you describe your own personal style for us?
I like a mixture of modern and vintage. My home is a large 1000 sq ft loft like space that is very open. I have interesting art on the walls that range from pictures of flowers to graffiti prints. And I collect vintage “head vases”- they are containers women would receive with a plant or small nosegay of flowers in them. My style overall is still pretty Urban… my wardrobe is over 50% black. : )
What about your work style? Do you work best with a clean and sparse space? Or are you better with loads of inspiration pieces pilled around you?
I am much better with loads of inspiration. I often get stuck creatively and I’ll walk around Magazine Street, going in and out of the antique shops and stores. I thrive on visual stimulation.
What advice would you offer other women looking to start their own business?
Make sure you have a niche market. Hone your craft. Learn your target industry inside and out. Know your competition and always pay attention to up and coming competitors. Be prepared to work harder that you’ve ever worked in your life. Be kind and respect your employees. Value your peers. Be willing to adapt and change. BE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO!!
If you didn’t live in New Orleans, where would you live?
In my heart of hearts, Brooklyn, New York. I’d like to have dual residency, please! And then add Europe to the list. (Triple residency!)