Designer of the Year Amy Balsters

Kelly Perry - 00:01 - You are listening to the Team Flower podcast where we talk about flowers and the people who've dedicated their lives to sharing them with the world. My Name's Kelly and today our guest, Amy Balsters the 2018 Team Flower designer of the year. In this episode we're talking about how Amy starts an arrangement, chooses materials and containers. We're also talking to foliage and going back to scenes at one of my favorite projects in Amy's portfolio podcast is brought to you by flowers, just where I'm from. It's a world wide educational community focusing on connecting and empowering flower lovers worldwide, whether you're professional farmer florists, getting started, just love flowers. Welcome to the party. If you'd like to know, a new podcast, episodes are released and receive funds, video tutorials and articles. Visit and click on resources. Amy Balsters is the owner of Amy Nicole Floral and has been a to part of the floral for over two decades. She has both formal training and best industry experience under her belt. Ready and willing to learn more about that. Second to floral design. Is Amy's love of teaching all things, you can learn more about the opportunity she offers on our website. Let's welcome Amy. 

Kelly Perry - 01:23 - So great, great  to have you on the podcast today. 

Amy Balsters - 01:26 - Thanks for having me share about my experience. 

Kelly Perry - 01:31 - Yeah, absolutely. Well, like we mentioned in your intro, you are the designer of the year 2018, the Team Flower conference and I just think it's so fun. There is such an awesome mix of people there. We had people who were in their first year of business and you know, you've been designing for nearly two decades, but I just think that the quality of what was produced just like working back in, you know, just like all the people sort of like working together and you know, it was just an easy fun. I feel like it was a use an easy fun environment where everyone was welcome and you know, ready to take things to the next level. But um, yeah, your eye and your design skills and just your attention to material choice and things like that and shape. 

Kelly Perry - 02:16 - I'm really set you apart. And so you won. Yay. That's so exciting. And you also have you also one, we had a couple of other awards and one of them was mastering and principles of design that Naomi, I'm from, Martha Stewart picked out and then we also had a rising star award, um, that vow from CFG chose. And so those are some other things that were added to the accolades that weekend that were so fun. So we're really excited to just learn from you on the podcast today. And um, yeah, if you want to say anything about your experience, I'll just go ahead and let you do that. But we wanted to jump into just some of Amy's like philosophies, some of her techniques for anyone who's listening and might just want to, um, you know, jump up there, jump up their design game. So anyway,  

Amy Balsters - 03:09 -  Yeah. Awesome. Thank you. Kelly. You are incredibly gracious, but I, you know, I, what you shared about just the community you guys created at this conference. Um, I just couldn't agree more with the energy. You know, we work in a creative field and it is not always community over competition. It's, you know, it can be kind of rough out there and um, I just, I felt so much, I'm just connection with, with people from farmers, from Flores, from all over the world, from kind of celebrity floors that were there all the way down to people that just wanted to maybe kind of check out flowers and see if this is a good career path for them. So we really had the full scope and there was so many talented people that were competing. I felt like there was just some incredible designs really using the principles of design. 

Amy Balsters - 04:01 - I'm just Julios comes to mind in terms of his use of color, which he won an award for that. So it was just so exciting to get to be a part of a competition where we really got to like, have to think through, you know, our concept and, and perform and get to showcase our work and have it celebrated with each other. Um, and that was a really beautiful experience. So I just want to thank you for creating this environment where we could come and learn from each other and just really grow and be inspired to go back sometimes to are lonely little studios and remember that we're not alone and that you can grow. There's always room to continue to grow no matter how long we've been doing flowers. So yeah, I'm just super excited for the whole experience. I'm really still kind of in shock and awe that one. So many things and just really, um, was really affirming and a lot of ways. So yeah. Thank you. I'm excited to talk more about it. 

Kelly Perry - 04:59 - That's awesome. So fun. I know before I left, um, I was telling people like, no, please come and see me anytime in the mountains, like call me anytime because it's really, you know, it can be so lonely when it's just like you and I love being around people and so it's just such a tree, like you were saying, you know, sometimes we go back to her loneliness studios and we're like, what are we doing, you know. So anyway, um, yes. And for anyone who's listening, you know, please, you're welcome to call and have a chat and stop by and sit on the porch anytime. So I'm sure amy would say the same dms, other florists often. So I'm happy to share. Yeah. So good. Well let's go back to some of the basics. Like tell us what your favorite way is to start an arrangement. Like are you a chicken wire person, a frog person, a phone person and all three person a combination. Sometimes I use a combination of a couple of things. What do you do? 

Amy Balsters - 05:57 - Yeah. So,  you know, in terms of like approaching any design, whether it's for a client, whether it's for myself, whether it's just somebody, you know, an everyday arrangement, um, which I don't run a retail shop, but I do occasionally make single arrangements for, for people. Um, but regardless of the event, I'm always thinking about where is this arrangement going in terms of then you the time of year, is it going on a buffet? Is it going on this table? Is it going to be. I'm like, where is it? Gonna end up living. And I, and I take that into really serious consideration because you know, an arrangement is really like a piece of art and it's really special, you know, you put, you put fresh flowers on a table, it changes the room, you put fresh flowers at a wedding, it elevates everything. And so flowers are really important and I think kind of knowing what the end goal is for where they're going to be is really where it starts for me. 

Amy Balsters - 07:02 - So I think about the environment. Is it like a, is it like a really shabby chic kind of room, isn't really woodsy? Is it like in a ballroom? Like where is this going? Um, and then that's where I, that's where I met my mechanics actually start long before I choose a flower fraud, a phone, because I'm starting all the way back at that first question. And then I chose my container based on answering all those questions. I don't just sort of arbitrarily pick usually like, well this is what I have in my inventory. I really try to match up. Then I'll try and use my inventory, but I try to match that up with like really adding to the story is it, it's going to elevate as it can work visually with the rest of the story you're trying to tell about this experience or this event. 

Amy Balsters - 07:47 - And then once I have my container, then I choose my mechanic space on what that container specifically needs. Because as you guys know, and most of your listeners know, you know, every container, sometimes it requires a different mechanic. I am really, really working to move away from flower foam. I support oasis as a company. I buy a lot of their products, but I'm really, really trying to work away from that. And as somebody who's been designing a long time, it is so hard to change my reliance on oasis, especially if it's comfortable for me. And so over the last five, six, seven years, I've really started using more water and flour frogs and chicken wire and just doing oftentimes that taped grid over the top. Um, that's actually the most affordable way to keep costs down. But I also know what the event work. Um, you know, there's the transportation element and so sometimes a waste, this is a, you know, a necessary evil and again, I know some people would disagree with me on that, but um, you know, if, if I hold them to a timeline and I can't design everything on site or you know, again, I'm working away from it, but it's going to take me some time to maybe solve some of those problems that oasis, you know, fixes for me. 

Amy Balsters - 09:06 - So I'm a, I really love flower frogs. I love that. They're like the new thing. I think I have to find a better way to introduce them to my clients to say, Hey, like, you know, if this is going to be a rental piece or is this going to be an insert? They're not super practical, you know, for my budget because I have like a very mid, mid range budget. I don't do like super high end. Um, so, you know, that fire front piece, I'm still kind of trying to figure that out, but the shapes you can get, the movement you can get with a flower frog is like, to me unparalleled. So right now for my Team Flower arrangement at the competition, I use a very, very large flower frog. Um, I did, um, it sort of like those two pieces together so it actually can come apart and become smaller and bigger. 

Amy Balsters - 09:56 - It's so my favorite ones. And then I used a bulk of chicken wire over that and then I taped it. Um, I almost did like a mini tape grid because the container I used was very low, shallow and round. And sometimes it's hard if you're trying to build hype to really get that stability. And so I kind of used a, like you said, a combination of things. But again, I'm, I'm a firm believer that like our mechanics are what allow us to have a successful design because of flowers need to live. They need to be expressed in their best way. Um, and we, the conversation always starts with successful design. It starts with how do you prepare a container truly. So I'm so glad you asked that question because I talk about this a lot in like, um, when I'm teaching other people, I do one on one workshops, group workshops and I, we go all the way back and talk about this really in depth. 

Amy Balsters - 10:48 - So anyway, that's what I would say. 

Kelly Perry - 10:51 - Yeah. Yeah, that's really awesome. In some of your classes and just sort of your experiences in general, what would you say maybe is like one area that's maybe a pitfall or like just a common mistake that you see a lot of new designers, um, maybe do that. Then just a quick little switch or a quick little adjustment here and there would help them go above and beyond that. Is there a thing like that for you that you would like to share? 

Amy Balsters - 11:19 - Yeah, absolutely. Something I see all the time is um, just overgrazing of an arrangement and not considering the greenery as a really important color and design element. And I know some of them florists may be rolling their eyes because I have felt this way. Like, look, I don't have time to think about that. I pick a greenery, it goes in, we put our stuff in and 20 or agency to go out the door, but I'm talking to somebody who really wants to like 

Amy Balsters - 11:54 - elevate sort of their, their design aesthetic and I think this really, really matters in the choice of their greenery. So something that I, that I see very often is like, okay, let, let me pick out a pretty grains, a greenery and then just kinda green up in a writing instrument and then start placing my flowers. That can work. But I think and it's beautiful. It creates a beautiful centerpiece. It's, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but I think that I wouldn't even call it a mistake. I would say suggestion is that to look at your green. Because again, this is something I teach people in terms of like color because I'm really, really passionate about understanding like how color works together in terms of like flowers. Because I know obviously there's all this color theory about somebody's color, but color with flowers I think is even more important. 

Amy Balsters - 12:43 - And you have this really condensed arrangement on a table and you kind of like, you can't really get away with a lot, you know, it's not like you can, you know, it's not a piece of furniture like this arrangement. Like if it's not working, the whole arrangement to me, like I don't want to look at it. And I was just like, I'm good. I want to pass her number, 

Kelly Perry - 13:01 - my answer to the question, the same question that I gave you would be similar with a slightly different angle interests that I think that part of course, the color and the greenery and that is a whole. We need to talk about that a little bit more. But basically it's that first layer. It's the foundation piece. And if it's not, if it's not balanced, if it's not, um, you know, if it doesn't have space in it, there is no place for the flowers to live. 

Kelly Perry - 13:28 - And so it is just, you have to think through like, um, again, back to that sort of end goal kind of thinking and in all things. But just what is the end piece of it going to look like in a lot of times. A lot of times when I go in it's just like, let's just clip that out, that out and say hey look, now you have room to put flowers and you know. And I remember like I remember doing the same thing that you know, like you just did something that experienced, you get more comfortable the more times you do it, like getting kind of like just free of that I guess you could say, but can just like, I think it's such good creative practice to just like don't use any greenery at all once and see what happens. See where the flowers take you and kind of come back. 

Kelly Perry - 14:12 - You still need structure. You still need to make sure that all of those kinds of things are there. But if you feel like, man, I've gotten a little bit better but I'm still really struggling. Just take it out of the picture for a minute and see what happens. Like I'm thinking about like your Dutch masters inspired shoot that you did. Like there's not a lot of greenery in that, um, and so, but it can give you kind of another perspective, another way to style all those kinds of things. But you were talking about about the color of greenery in there are, there's like the Yellow Greens and the blues, Greens and the, you know, really like dark, like navy green breeds, you know, there's all those different, all those different shades in there. So, right. That like, that's one 

Kelly Perry - 14:52 - of those things that can take an arrangement from being like, oh, that's pretty, like the shapes, amazing, you know, all that kind of stuff. The depth and the colors and all that sort of stuff. But if you can nail the foliage, oh my goodness, that is the thing that just really, I feel like it does make it 

Amy Balsters - 15:08 - a hundred percent. And I, what I wanted to say was, I, you know, when I think when I like explaining this to other people, I tell them to picture what a color b looks like and actually how a color wheel and I'll pull it out and show it to him and say green is on this side of the color wheel. So if you're using all these reds and all these purples, just understand that those are complimentary right there, opposite on the color wheel. And so in every other opposite you have, you create tension, which is sometimes is really good. 

Amy Balsters - 15:38 - That's really important to understand what you're doing. But if you're trying to create this really soft, sort of like moody kind of like nude nuanced Palette and you just start kind of going in with the greenery, just know that that's going to change the arrangement to be something a lot more. You know, it's going to create tension. And maybe it's too like verdant or maybe it's too, like what? So just knowing again, when you're choosing your ingredients, that like even the tone of the green, if it's a really bright, deep green again, is going to create a different effect than if you find something more muted. I'm like a eucalyptus or something where it's maybe this a similar tone, but it's like de Saturated. So when I'm at the market or I'm because I shop at the Los Angeles farmer get. I'm really fortunate to have a market. 

Amy Balsters - 16:27 - I haven't always, it always hasn't been that way. I lived in New Mexico for many years. They had to source from so many places to make my events worked. But um, I had really, I kind of start with one color and I really start building off that and I'm making sure that like tone and hue and saturation, like I'm focusing heavily on my color. So I think it if one thing I could say to pete to designers that want to elevate or that are really looking to grow, they really have to think about how their colors are working and if there's too much going on in, in too many variations of like whew and tone again, I can talk more about this. But then you're creating like you're never going to have, in my opinion, a successful arrangement in your studio if it's not dealt with at a wholesale level. 

Amy Balsters - 17:15 - Like if, if your suppliers you're not growing, you're not choosing those right products on the cart, like your arrangement is likely not going to be successful. So my best tip is like really understanding what's happening on your cart. Like looking at it, squinting your eyes, stepping back, like even reading like a color theory book and really understanding like what, what energy am I creating when I add this thing to it? And I'm really designing on the cart I'm adding. I'm taking away because once I get into my studio then it's brainless. I really just assembling at that point I'm putting together, I've already chosen. But if that piece is missing, then again, I think you'll continue to produce the same looking things if you just always reached for a lemon leaf and always reach for huckleberry and you're always reaching Poreska not that there's anything wrong with those grades, just know that you're gonna get the same look and the same kind of experience every time you put those things together. So that would be my thought is what I'm listeners probably will want to know is what are some of your favorite? Great. 

Amy Balsters - 18:19 - So I am like a motto chromatic Junkie. So like that's where I comfortably, if I look at people like to subpoena and I think she's such a master, Kiana is such a master of being able to do a lot of different colors at the same time. And it blows my mind because I'm like, oh, I just like, I'm not comfortable in that space and I wish I was. So I tend to live in kind of like a monochromatic or analogous role, meaning like I tend to stay in really like a section of the color wheel. So, you know, if I'm working on a red arrangement, I'm really looking for like greenery that is in the red family, it can be in the purple family, it can be all the way almost to like maybe our red orange, but I'm staying really like on my warms or cools often if I want to create a pop of something, then if I'm doing reds and purples and I want that tension that I'm in a brand of greenery, but I'm going to bring in a greenery that works with the same tone. 

Amy Balsters - 19:18 - So if I have all these rich jewel tones, I'm gonna use Camillea foliage because it has that depth, that really dark rich greenery that's complimentary to those terms. If I'm not going to bring in like maybe a eucalyptus, if I have all this really rich jewel tone going on, now I will use the eucalyptus. Um, but it has to be like, it's usually will tend to be with a specific client requests. I don't tend to like Eucalyptus in general, um, try to use like other things. But honestly my favorite foliage is anything that's long stemming, like really laggy. I would say and has like tiny little blurbs on it. So for example, right now, gymnasts, dre, um, is this long kind of brand. She, you could call it a greenery, almost has like small green, long needles on it, if you will, almost able to almost like pine needles and then these tiny light little white fragrant blooms. 

Amy Balsters - 20:17 - I used it. I don't even consider that a filler. I consider that my greenery and I will use that as my line is my kind of based. It's not a branch, but it creates its effortlessly creates line for and arrangement. So I love them. I love all geraniums I grew up in southern California. Geranium is like, feels like it's part of me, but if Diane, it's greenness can be a problem for me. So I'm really careful unless I'm doing a very garden style arrangement, very garden that I'm careful with the color and tone of greenery, scented geranium chocolate. Geranium has a very dark brown patch in the middle of it. I will often use that because at brown x, like a neutral for me and it caught, it pulls into their colors. The arrangement, um, in the, like I will say a goddess, like it's a dark purple, very feathery. 

Amy Balsters - 21:12 - I believe it's, I don't know if it's a eucalyptus family, I don't think it is, but it's got, again, that was long, kind of like needled leaf feathery, like length and it's purple. So whenever I get, I'm using like a Reddish Palette, I'm going to go for that. I love Fotini, I don't see it that often, but it's very gated that it starts screen and then it builds into red on the top. That is perfect for me because I'm always looking for like tonal foliage. Anything that's a light light, lime green. I used the Coleus plant and my designer, each event at Team Flower design competition, that would blows. I'm never like, I've never brave enough to put Kalia in an arrangement. I've had way too much of it die, but this was a perfect opportunity to try it. I saw where Mussa Gabriela with law of Musa do it and I'm like, oh, that was so good. 

Amy Balsters - 22:01 - I have to try it. Um, so I'm always looking. Again, I'm looking for the color and little tiny blooms or some way to just break up this like giant piece of green in arrangement. I'm trying to soften it. If it has tiny blooms on it, it becomes more of an element of, of everything else rather than just being like greenery, flower, flower, flower, flower, greenery, if you know what I mean. So it's kind of just flow so much more beautifully to me. So I would say I don't have this like really specific. I do have a list of kind of like what my go tos are that are considered like cut flowers and one day I hope to grow things. They're living in a place where I can just like go crazy for it. Um, and have my own collection of beautiful things that I cut 'em in. That's the next stage of life maybe. But yeah, those are some of my favorites. 

Kelly Perry - 22:54 - Well, I'm looking at. I think my big takeaway from this conversation is definitely like using things that would be considered a flower instead of a foliage and to like considering the foliage is that are on flowers that maybe the flowers have been past bloom and now you're going to use like I use hellebore leaves all the time around the rim of my containers. Just like little bits in the garden and things like that. And I'm looking at this like really cool bouquet that you put together that has. This is in the bouquet for all seasons editorial and we'll link to amy's blog on here. I'm really a great place to look for some inspiration for sure. But she has, I think you have, um, in this yellow tone you've got the pompous grass which is sort of, it's, it's getting some shape in the arrangement. 

Kelly Perry - 23:42 - So it's definitely functioning in a greenery way, but it's a, um, you know, light yellow area kind of grass. And then Luca Dendron. It's just this beautiful yellow and that's something that you could use as to create an implied line arrangement or you could use it here to create the shape. And the arrangement, so it's just interesting like there's so many different ways that we can think through and interpret the ingredients that we're choosing and using. And like this car, you have a carnation bouquet that has a little bit of placebo. There's hardly any foliage in there at all. Like that's such a good example of how you can create really interesting shapes with flowers. So if you're really just used and kind of burnout, maybe you've just been, you know, kind of feeling like, oh, I've just been doing the same thing over and over again. 

Kelly Perry - 24:29 - Like this is like, okay, well let's try, let's try something else. Like let's shake some of our, um, our patterns loose so that we can discover new things. And I think just doing that in, in a setting with leftovers whenever you just have a couple of minutes to breathe, it's like if you've never done it before, like probably don't try it on like some really big wedding or something, you know, like for the first time. Um, but I always think it's so good to just have moments where you're just sort of exploring, creating, thinking through like how you could reinterpret ingredients and things like that. And I mean that's what's happening in this, in the shoot and I think it's so crazy fun. Um, so also there's another shoot that I really love. It's called on cloud nine and the material choices in it are amazing and we've, you know, we've talked a little bit about material choices and color and all those kinds of things, but like this shoot just has this very, like it's, it's textural, like so interesting texturally, but also so it's like it glows, um, the way that the light is interacting with these kinds of materials. 

Kelly Perry - 25:32 - It just creates this really warm visually just like you just want to keep looking at it. And so that's always something like whenever I see things like that, you know, it's just like you really want to sit on it for a while instead of, you know, it just kind of being like, oh yeah, you know, seen it before or whatever. Like, we all have so many interesting things like swirling around inside our bodies that are just waiting to come out and have like a voice through the flowers. I feel like, you know, and so I just feel like this is one of those. I'm one of those moments where I see that happening just like so clearly in it. It just has such an interesting feeling. So can you just walk us through like, I don't know where your inspiration began, the places that you walked. I know that some of this stuff from the market, I know that this was growing on a fence in the middle of an abandoned gas station somewhere. Like what are we looking at here? 

Amy Balsters - 26:33 - Oh yeah. I love this shoe and I'm so glad you want to talk about it. So this shoot is for a customer of mine, um, juniors  and lover. She makes these gorgeous, very coachable, Bohemian inspired dresses, um, and there, but they range not, they're just not Boho, they're just, they range so much. And um, the different kinds of wastage she used. She's an incredible team. She's based here in southern California. I'm in La and she's hired me several times. This was, I think our like third shoot together. Um, but this one definitely required like a full set rather than just like, okay, or a hairpiece. So she told me on the phone, you know, this, this collection is going to be called cloud nine. I want this to feel airy, really feminine, but I want dark and moody. So again, I know, I hear you talk about this. I hear a lot of people talk about this. This is a perfect example of like you have to put work out there that you want to do. 

Kelly Perry - 27:30 - Laura and I did a shoot together. We did the various, I had leftover flowers rotting in color and I called her and said, you know, I have this idea and we threw together this really like in my backyard quick shoot. And uh, this client saw that and said, hired us to do this, um, as a professional project because she saw the pictures that we post on instagram and our blogs about this photo shoot we had done. That was just kind of fun. So again, this goes back to like, you have to keep putting your work out there that you want to do. You can't expect a client hire you for something they haven't seen. So this is a perfect example of that. Um, so new she explained to me, of course, sends me a link to the dresses and immediately when she said cloud nine, I just envisioned, okay, dark and moody and like Airy, Feminine. 

Amy Balsters - 28:19 - So I want everything to feel like a cloud, but I'm not literally going to like make clouds. I want the million. I knew that she would be sitting on this city, this beautiful, I'm a tablet or shop sativa. And then I also knew that she was also going to be standing to post addresses and also we may have some closer, tighter shot. So I really was, I'm always on. I like to be on set for this thing because I wanted to start the first design around the set team knowing that would be the most work. Um, and when I chose. And then throughout the day I'll just say like, it was an eight hour shoot and throughout the day, um, we would remove this study and I would basically like not fully redesigned but everything was everything's modular, so like I start moving things around and then adding a little bit of product here and there and then in 15 minutes I can have that shoot flipped around for her to be able to sit, to be standing so I can work really quickly because I designed it in a way that like, I just need to add or fill in rather than like totally redesigned the whole set. 

Kelly Perry - 29:23 - Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for being here today and for giving us a peek inside your world. It's always so fun to talk with you and thank you so much. And for all of you who are out there listening, it's been great to have you today. And um, yeah, just to remember that you're not alone. That work that you're doing is really important and that we appreciate you and are cheering you on. Appear at Team Flower. So I'm, 

Kelly Perry - 29:50 - we will see everybody soon. This podcast is brought to you by doing the flower. The flower is an online learning community in a big group of foreigners that are focused on loving the world through flowers. Whether you're a professional farmer for getting started or just love flowers, welcome to the party. If you'd like to know when you have cast episodes are released from the squirrels and articles for a pimp, it's free for the team,, and Click on resources.

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