One of the highlights of Quynh's involvement in Design Days 2020 was having the chance to meet Holly Heider Chapple! You've likely seen Holly's beautiful work all over social media and she's been featured in numerous wedding magazines and wedding blogs. Her flower arrangements are always exquisitely composed and styled.
One look at her websites (yes, she's got 3) and you can see it reflects her personality and her style perfectly. She's the founder of Chapel Designers, the owner of Hope Flower Farm, and the artist behind Holly Chapple Flowers. She's a HUGE name in the floral industry, so much so that she's dubbed the "Flower Mama" by her peers. You wouldn't know it because she is so incredibly down-to-earth, warm and engaging.
With the help of her family, she's turned her floral business into an empire. In this Episode, she is joined by her son, Alex, the Director of Education and Communication, who has become an integral part of her business.
Listen to Holly and Alex as they talk to us about their flower farm, their floral business, and how they're adapting their business in light of the Covid-19 related restrictions.
If you hear the chirping chicks in the background, they're from Holly's farm!
1. Introduce yourself to us! Who is Holly Chapple?
I’m a floral and event designer based in Virginia, and I serve clients in the D.C. area. I’m also a flower farmer, an educator, an inventor, and a mother of seven.
2. How did you decide to become a florist? What turning points in your life led you to where you are now in your personal and business life?
I grew up in the garden center/produce market my parents owned. As a child I had to help in the field, sell tomatoes and corn, and tend to flowering plants. I also did basic designing during the holidays. The first centerpieces I designed were for my father to sell during the Christmas season. Flowers have always been a constant in my life.
I started working as a florist because I was looking for a way to stay at home with my children. I did my first design work by the kitchen sink. My first wedding work was for a friend, a woman who lived up the street. Initially, my business grew because of word of mouth. But a big turning point in my business was the advent of social media. I was an early adopter of blogging and Instagram, and my work on both platforms made me more visible.
I’ve always been very transparent on social media about how hard this work is--especially as a mother--and it has resonated with clients over the years. And other florists, many of whom choose to study with me at workshops or online.
3. Tell us about your company, Holly Heider Chapple Flowers.
First and foremost, we are artists at Holly Heider Chapple Flowers LTD. Very busy artists, working across multiple divisions.
Second, we are family. And much of the work across these divisions is focused on bringing you into our family.
You can read more about us here: https://www.hollychappleflowers.com/about.
4. What is it like working with family members as you have been growing your Company?
This has been incredible for the business, as we all have very different strengths. My husband is remarkable at finance, business policies, farming and build outs. He is also an incredible teacher. My son Alex has brought a new strength to our company because of his strong communication and writing skills. Alex is also a people person so he is wonderful at caring for our students. Alex is the Director of Education and Communication. By working together I hope we are building something that will endure.
5. Can you tell us about your beautiful farm, Hope Flower Farm?
Hope was a working dairy farm. The main house and barn were built in 1820s. Through the years, an additional tenant house and two other barns were added to the farm. The original property was over 400 acres; years ago most of the land was developed and the farm was reduced to 25 acres. The tenant farmers were a Mr. and Mrs. Hope; they worked the farm for over sixty years. The property was for sale for almost four years before we finally were able to acquire the farm.
In honor of the Hopes we named the farm Hope Flower Farm. The manor house is used for styled shoots and a residence for our teachers. Floral design students stay in the tenant house or at local B&Bs and hotels.Three barns are used for education and events. We haven’t had a wedding at the farm yet, but we’re preparing to host our first there this year.
We grow daffodils, tulips, blooming branches, several thousand peonies, dahlias, lots of annuals and other perennials.
6. What is Chaple Designers and what is its mission?
In 2010, I asked the floral designers following my blog and social media, “Does anyone want to meet me in New York?” They did. After years of offering advice, guidance, and moral support to fellow designers on social media, I designed a conference for them to meet and study together in person for the first time. And so Chapel Designers - the first organization of its kind - was born. This network of like-minded industry professionals came together under my wing. They call me “Flower Mama,” and now Chapel Designers from all over the world meet to study together all over the world.
Essentially, we are a collective of wedding and event designers. We work together and support each other so we all find success. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, I have never been more grateful for this group.
You can read more about the Chapel Designers Mission here: https://www.chapeldesigners.com/information
7. You've partnered with Syndicate Sales on the development of the Holly Chapple Egg. What is the Holly Chapple Egg? Tell us about the development process and how you came up with this ingenious product?
The egg was born out of necessity. I was trying to achieve a certain type of design for a bridal bouquet - for a special bride - when I came up with the form. Syndicate Sales often supplied hard goods to our Chapel Designer workshops, so I knew that I could go to them with the mechanic concept. We had design meetings, sought a patent, and the rest is history.
8. You also have a line with MP Bastian Leathers. Tell us about this line.
I needed an apron or belt that did not fall apart. My tools are constantly pointing downwards and destroying any cloth aprons I wear. This sturdier custom made piece is water resilient and so much more durable.
9. How do you decide which businesses and/or designers to partner/collaborate with?
This is often about the relationship I have with a particular person or brand. I am very people focused. The concept/product is always born out of need. I am very careful about who I work with as I want to protect the integrity of our company which has taken 28 years to build.
10. We love that you define yourself as an artist. What would be your advice for an aspiring artist?
Sometimes, just create for creation’s sake. Design things that inspire you and keep you motivated. If you feel like you are just producing and not creating art, you need to rethink where you are at. I say each design or piece that leaves the studio should make our studio proud!!
11. What are your favourite flowers to design with?
Lilac, Peonies, Dahlias, Ranunculus, Garden roses…… whoops I could go on forever.