Sisters Casey (Coleman) Schwartz and Kit (Coleman) Wertz are a floral design dynamic duo! In our Q & A with them we learned how these extremely talented sisters got into the floral business and what inspired them to offer floral design workshops and education for people of all ages!
When and how did Flower Duet become founded?
Kit and Casey began their floral design business in 1999.
We started Flower Duet as a part-time weekend business after Casey had retired from designing flowers on luxury cruise ships around the world and Kit had immersed herself in floral design courses a few years. Our initial business model was to teach flower arranging through in-home parties. We’d bring the flowers and vases and tools to people’s houses and then teach the participants how to make a floral design. Eventually, many of these clients started getting married and asked us to create their wedding flowers so we expanded to creating wedding and event florals in the early 2000s. We moved our business to a design studio in the mid-2000s so we could expand our offerings.
For folks who aren’t familiar with you, what is your speciality? What are you known for?
We are the floral designers who love to teach and love all flowers. We are known for sharing our love of flowers by teaching all types of people of all types of skills. We love teaching children how to make floral designs as well as octogenarians who’ve been in garden clubs for 60 years! We love sharing new ideas and old tried and true techniques with everyone.
Did you and your sister always know you wanted to become florists? How did you get started? Was there any specific training you went through?
Casey was inspired by flowers her whole life through our parents beautiful gardens and love of all types of flowers and plants. After Casey graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management, she achieved her goal to work on cruise ships and to chase summer around the globe.
Casey started her floral design career on a luxury cruise ship called The Sea Goddess I, part of the legendary Cunard lines. It was one of her early jobs on the ship to create and maintain the live floral designs on the ship for 7-10 days and to buy flowers from vendors at port cities around the world in multiple languages and currencies. Like her sister, Kit had a love of flowers from an early age thanks to the lovely flowers her mother grew every summer in the backyard. During college, Kit worked as a perennial plant specialist at a local nursery and after graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Kit had the opportunity to work in The Netherlands. Kit became passionate about floral design after living among the flower-loving Dutch and after she created her own wedding flowers (with Casey’s help) for her wedding in 1997. Kit fell in love with the Los Angeles Floral District and wanted to share that passion for flowers with her friends.
After taking friends down to the mart and showing them how to create flower designs, the concept of Flower Duet took shape. By teaching people how to design flowers in their own homes in a flower party atmosphere, Flower Duet was able to grow through referrals for weddings and special event flowers.
What type of classes does Flower Duet offer and how frequently? Where can our readers sign up for your classes?
We offer floral design workshops for all levels of designers at our studio in Torrance, twice monthly and offer private lessons all year long. We also teach classes at The Huntington Library about 6 times per year in San Marino and periodically at our local South Coast Botanic Garden as well as numerous guest speaking appearances throughout Los Angeles and other parts of the West. Readers can sign up for classes on our website: flowerduet.com and subscribe to our newsletter which features all our upcoming events and classes.
How important is sourcing locally and utilizing California grown flowers to Flower Duet?
All of our floral designs are custom orders so we have a lot of flexibility in how and from whom we source our flowers. When the design can be all local flowers, that is what we choose to purchase. Anytime we are given free reign to create a look on our own we incorporate as many locally grown flowers as we can.
How would you describe your design style?
Casey’s natural design style is “sticky-outy” or organic and flowing while Kit’s was always a bit more controlled and compact. Over the years, we’ve flip flopped and can mimic each other’s style perfectly…so there really isn’t anything we can’t collaborate on together as a team.
What upcoming projects do you have in the works?
We are coming up with a new set of floral design classes for 2017 that will feature only California grown flowers, greenery and plants. We are very excited about this venture to showcase all the wonderful flowers that are grown in California for all types of events from weddings to corporate fundraisers.
Where would you like to see Flower Duet in 5 years?
We’d like to continue to expand our educational reach beyond Los Angeles by appearing at the San Francisco Flower & Garden show again and other areas to really showcase the wonderful flowers that are grown in California for consumers in the United States. We just were tapped to create floral art for the LA Food and Wine Show for CA GROWN and came up with a floral lamb sculpture made from fresh flowers with a face made of dried plums. We’d love to do more to help promote California Grown Flowers.
What are some business values/ideals that are important to you?
Be on-time. Be polite. Deliver what you promise.
Are there any California growers that you like to use in particular? Why?
We love all the growers that are based in California. We are faithful to all, as we are always in need of items that they provide. My favorite time at the mart is at 5am on a Friday morning and the growers are emptying their vans/trucks. They are loading these over flowing buckets of single colored, single variety flowers on to these very long wide carts. One cart will have all stock with 3 buckets of white, 3 of Purple, 3 of pink and 3 of yellow and it smells so incredible when I walk by.
Then another grower will have all celosia, or all statice and in the mid to later summer…the Dahlias are just amazing. We know they are just off the farm and into the mart and the growers are wheeling them from vendor to vendor to unload so that we the floral designer/enthusiast may purchase them and somehow make them even more stunning. We are grateful that flowers are indeed still grown in California, so that we may be able to offer our clients and ourselves these extraordinary pieces of art that Mother Nature created!
What was your inspiration for offering classes?
We love the feeling we get when we create a beautiful floral design and wanted to share that feeling with others. We feel that flower arranging is a life skill. Something you should learn as a young child so you can use it throughout your life and really to appreciate what professional floral artisans do, too. The more people learn about flowers and how to work with them to help them last a long time in a vase and make them look pretty, the better it is for our industry as a whole. More people buying more flowers is a good thing.
Lastly, where do you draw your inspiration from? Any other florists or websites that you admire?
We grew up with Sunset Magazine and continue to subscribe to it for all the wonderful garden and floral ideas. We visit a lot of botanical gardens in our travels. We go to our local plant nurseries and are embracing California Native Plants for our own gardens. We love farmer/florists like Erin Benzakein and cherish our friendship with “locally grown flowers” doyenne Debra Prinzing. We love everything that Debra Lee Baldwin does with succulents. Mostly, we draw inspiration from the Los Angeles floral district itself. We marvel at all the beautiful floral products arriving on market days from our local growers. There is really nothing like it and it is the most energizing and motivating influence we have on a regular basis for our floral designs.
Thank you to Kit and Casey for taking the time to answer our questions! To reach Flower Duet you can email email@example.com or give them a call at (310)-792-4968.
Love. Flowers. Always.
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