I'm super excited to share our interview with the designer of yesterday's takeover, Amy Atkinson-Barnes of Brier + Ivy. Now, I'm not exactly sure what's going on in Oregon, but we've had a surge of Portland & Oregon based designers taking over our feed! I think Amy is the third consecutive Oregon designer to do a takeover for us, and I'm loving it! Although, I may be a bit biased as I graduated from the U of O and spent ten years in the PNW (Go Ducks!)
Anyhow, Portland is such a wonderful city that really supports the creative community and is just blossoming with young artists, so it probably does make sense after all!
I hope you enjoyed Amy's takeover as much as I did, so let's get to know the designer behind the flowers a bit better, shall we?
So tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you found yourself in the industry!
I studied psychology in college + was unsure of my career path. I was considering school counseling, but knew I wanted to work with people. I decided to take some time between undergrad and a masters program. In the interim, I got an office admin job and quickly learned the office life wasn’t for me. I started to pursue floral design as a side project and creative outlet but it quickly grew from that and I am so glad it did! Floral design comes so naturally to me, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
We’ve had a few other takeovers from Portland floral designers, and I always love hearing their thoughts about the Portland flower community! (I went to to school at U of O and have spent a lot of time in Portland, so the city is near & dear to my heart!) What is your take on the industry in Portland?
As a Portland native, I have always loved this city. It has gone through so much growth and change over the last decade and as a local that can be hard to grasp at all times. That said, I think the wedding industry in Portland has gained so much from this growth. The Portland wedding industry is so vibrant + different than anywhere else I’ve witnessed. Though at times it feels over saturated, the overall sense of community in this industry is unparalleled and very encouraging. This unique community has become a model for vendors all over the world striving to make weddings more unique + artistic.
You own Brier + Ivy with your husband - what is his role in the company and how is it working so closely with your significant other?
Brier + Ivy has been a total dream for me. Pursuing this little flower business has been my main passion for the last few years + I am so grateful to have such a supportive partner! Brian has been getting more + more involved recently + it’s been awesome! Being able to travel together has been a game changer for us - we spent a month in Europe last fall flowering in Iceland, Switzerland + Italy! Brian has a background in production and management so he runs more of our day to day and behind the scenes operations. I work with clients and do all the designing. He is also our expert “installer” for larger floral pieces needing to be hung etc. Perhaps, most of all, he keeps me organized! When designing florals I tend to be very messy :)
How would you describe your design style or philosophy?
My designs are very much driven by the flowers I use. (Shoutout to Jocelyn for always helping me get incredible orders!) I am inspired by crooked stems or a random colored petal. I love texture + detail. While I’ll always love garden roses + peonies, those larger blooms tend to take a back seat in my designs. Focusing more on the detail + creating as much texture + depth as possible. I truly believe that makes each individual flower shine so much more!
We all know being in the wedding industry isn’t easy, but there’s always that something for each of us that keeps us in. What keeps you going and motived to live that flower hustlin’ life every day?
The flower hustlin’ life is definitely exhausting but there’s two things that keep me motivated. First, our clients! I know vendors like to brag about their clients, but I truly am so very grateful for the people we work with - they’re kind, inspiring + generous making the hard work + long hours so worth it. Secondly, simply being able to pursue something I love + am passionate about as a career is so incredible. Building a business that is so close to our heats + watching it support our family has been one of the greatest joys of our marriage thus far!
Let’s talk tools - favorite florist tool, and favorite app you use in your business, be it social media or business organization? Instagram counts (ha!) but if there’s anything else you’re using we’d love to hear about it!
Honestly, I am terrible with tools. I lose them all the time, or forget they’re in my purse + they get taken at TSA, haha! So my favorite tool is the one that I find in my pocket at any given time. My other favorite are the newer rose strippers - the bigger ones that are a larger plastic cylinder that surrounds the stem - so much better than the old metal ones!
My favorite app is Instagram, it feels cliche to say that, but it truly is such a unique way to be able to share your portfolio + your business with a broad audience. It is also such an incredible way to connect with other vendors + fellow florists. I do also love WordSwag + Unfold for make insta stories etc.
Besides the obvious “romantic garden style” style, what other wedding and floral trends are you noticing?
While I love oversized + lush bouquets + installs, lately I have been so inspired by the more modern minimalism approach to design. Things like a hand made ceramic bowl with an exposed pin frog sitting in it + just a few lovely stems coming out. Or an organic feeling ceremony backdrop made of just one or two types of florals. I also love to monochromatic trend - we made an all blush bouquet this fall that was too cool! (Yes, it did involve spray paint!)
Can you answer the age-old question… all-time favorite flower? I’ll allow a couple because even I can’t choose just one
Oh boy, I am never good at this question but I’ll do my best!
Sentimentally my fav flower is a dahlia. Brian’s grandma grew them when he was a child + he has fond memories of her dahlia fields out on the Olympic Peninsula. They were a main part of my own wedding bouquet I designed.
Currently, my fav flower is a butterfly ranunculus. they’re just too darn cute + delicate!
Texturally I love Icelandic poppies (particularly the ones that are just barely blush colored) + I am obsessed with the tiny white rambling roses. They are so delicate + the season is so short but they are just too cool!
What would you go back and tell yourself as you were just starting out?
You can’t do it all by yourself, so stop trying!! I am not someone that really likes to ask for help and I love to be self-sufficient. Thus, starting this business I was so motivated to do everything myself. Now my motto is, “know your strengths.” I am a lot happier (and probably more successful) now that Brian has taken on a lot of the aspects of the business that I’m not great at. Hiring an accountant was probably the best thing we could have done as well! Being a little more freed up to focus on design + vision has been life changing!
Photo Credits, in order:
Thanks so much for reading, and to see what Amy's up to in the studio, make sure to follow @brierandivy on Instagram!