I moved to NYC wanting to do something other than work in a flower shop. The honeymoon phase of living on the L.e.S. in the mid 90’s quickly wore off and I needed a job. What did I know best? bartending and flowers. I chose flowers. ( I later chose bartending )
I worked for a few different shops for a day “auditioning” my skills for them. Short stints here and there as a freelancer. And then… the job offer. I didn’t know who anyone was really… & I knew next to nothing about the event business, especially the NY event business. Yet, I found myself going to work for a BIG company that produced BIG events. I started out working in their retail shop, which quickly turned into working in event production.
Picture a busy high end restaurant on a Friday night in NYC… substitute gorgeous plates of deliciousness with fresh florals and bridal bouquets. I’ve recently made the connection of working in the flower/event biz to being a line cook in one of these places… I don’t think it would be dissimilar. I’ve recently read The Nasty Bits as well as Blood, Bones & Butter. The similarity between the kitchen and flower shop is almost comical… catering and event décor is a riot!
This job was hard. It took every ounce I had to give it. I loved it. I hated it. It made me who I am today. I met Rori Pierpont. She is a visionary. She can see a space for what it could be – not what it is. I learned from her… how to transform a space, how to create a vibe… how to make it not just an event…an experience.
After three years working under her we understood each other. We stayed up until the wee hours designing jobs, drinking copious amounts of coffee, living on pizza ( it was cheap & cheerful ) as well as the occasional Gray’s Papaya Dogs during baseball season. Off to the flower market in the wee hours of the morning ( on the other end of the day ) to select the freshest, most beautiful blooms and head back to the shop to do it all over again. It was busy. Busy like I’d had never seen before or have since then. But we did it, job after job. I learned how to select linens, use lighting to transform a space, create structures, drape fabric, suspend elements, order flowers and design a party.
I will never forget being in the basement on a Sunday morning in summer with a wilted gardenia bouquet. I can still hear Rori “ I know what to do… we’ve got this. Now we’re cooking with gas!” That job was like going to battle everyday. You had to have a thick skin and a killer beauty box to get you through the day & any floral emergency that might arise. Not enough ribbon in the color you need… no problem. Banana leaf shortage… we’ve got that too. You say you want black centers on those anemonea instead of the green… super! How many yards of fabric did we need….
Decking the Halls throughout the city, delivering a wedding in the middle of a parade route, a party at Rockefeller Center and why not throw in a giant memorial in central park along with a multiple wedding weekend. We did it all. There were rotating team members but always the usual cast of characters. I learned. We laughed. I’m sure there were tears and maybe even a little bloodshed.
I can say Rori Pierpont has been my mentor and a very good friend to me all of these years. I still make a cameo appearance now and then at Castle & Pierpont… and it’s like not a minute has passed between us. I had no idea when I was hired that I was going to have the hardest three years ahead of me… but I wouldn’t trade a second of it and the friendship that came out of it. Actually, those cameo appearances are a bit thrilling … jumping back into the mix. I’m a bit older, somewhat wiser & I’ve gained oodles of life experience since then. I wouldn’t be the event designer I am today if it weren’t for Rori instilling that fearlessness in me. She encouraged me to think outside of the box, take chances and pushed me to keep going when I thought I had taken an idea as far as it could go… trusting in me even when I was unsure as she saw something in this twenty something girl from Boston that walked into her shop one day.
I know you are wondering what happened after three years… Stay tuned! and while you are waiting… check out Castle & Pierpont online or in person! 164 Ludlow Street NYC.