It’s hard to believe that our very own Rachel Trimarco, a self-professed born planner, never intended to start a career in the wedding industry. Fast forward ten years later and she’s running a successful floral design and décor company in the heart of Manhattan.
Rachel’s passion for flowers and sharp business aptitude led her to establish Bride & Blossom in 2008. Social media was just getting started. A new business couldn’t rely on posting eye-catching photos with snappy captions to attract attention and gain visibility. Rather, quality work, commitment, and maintaining excellent client relations were required. This was especially true in the wedding industry where goods and services are valued for their visual appeal and ability to meet clients’ aesthetic tastes.
Over the years, Bride & Blossom has evolved thanks to Rachel’s leadership and ability to foresee trends in both floral design and online business marketing. She’s worked with hundreds of brides in the New York City area, translating their visions into stunning spectacles of wedding floral décor. We are beyond excited to share Rachel’s unique story as part of Bride & Blossom’s Women Paving the Aisle series. Here she talks about building her business from the ground up, how the luxury wedding industry has changed in the last decade, and advice for rising female entrepreneurs.
You designed and styled the floral décor for your own wedding. Can you share how this experience inspired you to go into the wedding flower industry? When did you know that this could become your career?
My love for flowers goes back to childhood. In high school, all of my artwork was floral related. Years later, one of my high school teachers found out that I had started a floral design company sent me a print of one of my flower paintings – the school had used it as holiday card.
When I started planning for my own wedding, I was working as a television news producer and decided to leave in order to pursue a business of my own. This was all happening while I am assembling a team of vendors and designing my own florals. A couple happened to walk through our venue on the morning of my wedding and loved the decor. When I returned from my honeymoon, the venue coordinator called on behalf of the couple to ask for my florist’s information. A light went off and I thought, “I should just to the wedding.” So I met with the bride. Her wedding ended up being on the same weekend that I got married, but exactly one year later. That was Bride & Blossom’s first wedding and I continued to work from there. While designing flowers has always been a passion of mine, I never expected to be decorating and styling weddings as a career. But everything just came together at the right time.
A wedding vendor’s success is very dependent on building good relationships with clients. As a floral designer, this is especially important because wedding flowers are deeply personal and symbolic. During those early years, what did you do to cultivate strong relationships with your brides?
In the beginning, we worked really hard to establish strong connections within the wedding industry by reaching out to venues, planners, and photographers. This was before social media, so networking and marketing was much more organic. You really had to work at fostering relationships. Today, relationships start by just sharing, tagging, or commenting on a photo. With those first clients, we focused on quality, personalized attention, and customer service. Every wedding was treated the same whether big or small. The main feedback from Bride & Blossom brides over the years is that we are extremely responsive, communicative, hands on, and detailed with our approach to work.
Did you establish any routines or practices early on that are credited to Bride & Blossom’s success today?
When Bride & Blossom started out, no one was doing flowers specifically for weddings. The wedding industry is a $50 billion industry in the US alone. I realized early on that focusing on weddings and catering exclusively to brides would give us an edge. We made sure to establish a personalized, boutique feeling, which brides really responded to and seemed to appreciate. This has kept us from being pulled in different directions regarding the type of event. Rather, we can put all of our attention on what is important to brides today, and which styles and designs they are looking for. This concentrated approach allows us to be up-to-date and on the pulse of the wedding industry.
Every floral proposal is customized for each couple. Nothing is pre-packaged. And in our proposals, we outline the floral recipe with total count of blooms – how many stems of each type of flower along with the number of vases and candles that will be used in the design. The same proposal is used across the board with our brides, designers, and everyone in between. This level of detail, personalization, and transparency has really set us apart with our clients and helped to garner a good reputation with other wedding vendors.
When Bride & Blossom first started, all our favorite social media platforms for wedding inspiration like Pinterest and Instagram didn’t even exist. How did you approach the process of taking a client’s vision and translating it into beautiful floral décor back then?
That’s a very good question and I often think back to planning my own wedding and how differently it would have been with the benefit of Pinterest, Instagram, and all these incredible resources we have today! We definitely had to provide more visuals. Sketches, pulling together a selection of images, and examples from our own portfolio were very important for conveying design ideas. We relied heavily on vision boards. The level of detail that today’s brides have come to expect in terms of visual inspiration just didn’t exist when Bride & Blossom started. But we always went out of our way to provide as much detailed information as possible. So being able to offer images of designs, types of flowers, color schemes, and style inspiration was very important. We had to do a lot more groundwork in order to lay the foundation for managing brides’ expectations.
With all of these resources for gorgeous inspiration, it is definitely much easier to communicate to clients how their florals will look. It can work in both ways though. Sometimes a bride wants a particular flower that isn’t in season, or floral décor that doesn’t suit the venue or budget.
How has social media influenced your work in helping a bride choose her wedding blooms?
It’s very interesting to have been a part of the wedding industry’s transition. Instagram and Pinterest have greatly impacted business. Today, many brides come in with a clear blue print of what they want. So we work to manage expectations regarding which flowers are in season, and design possibilities with respect to venue and budget. In general, social media has been really helpful in providing each client with a strong sense of design options. We are able to put together designs based on their preferences and offer our design expertise where needed and desired. While other brides come to us without a clear vision. We then work with them to develop designs that reflect their style and personality.
One downside to social media is that we can become over saturated with information and ideas. This can make it difficult for some to hone in on what they really want. Inspiration overload happens, which can result in confusion making it hard to ultimately decide on décor.
With the onset of wedding blogs, magazines, and celebrities like Martha Stewart dishing wedding advice, the wedding industry has exploded in the last ten years. What are the major changes you’ve seen and/or experienced during this time?
Traditionally, vendors would do the big wedding shows. We did a few shows in the beginning as well. Now, everything is available online. Brides go to wedding blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram for ideas and information. The response to traditional forms of advertising and media, even print, just isn’t there anymore. We’ve been fortunate enough to have been featured on some of these blogs such Martha Stewart Weddings and Style Me Pretty. We’ve definitely received a great response from our clients as a result.
Bride & Blossom caters mostly to brides in the NYC area. Is there a style that best describes the New York wedding?
I would say that it is venue specific. There are so many venues in and around the New York City area. We do a majority of weddings in the city. But we also do a lot of weddings in the outer Tri-State area, which exposes us to different types of venues such as vineyards and rustic barn-like settings. In Manhattan, brides tend to gravitate toward a more classic, elegant, and dramatic style. At the same time, there are amazing loft venues where brides can be really creative with décor. Last year’s Pantone color was greenery. Many of our brides wanted organic, more natural textured types of arrangements. We’ve done weddings at botanical gardens, grand hotels, historic banks, and renovated industrial spaces as well as beach weddings in the Hamptons. The New York area really runs the gamut for venue options, which is great. We are not limited by style and are able to provide our brides with a range of designs. It’s always exciting when a new venue opens and we have the opportunity to create, design, and transform the space.
Each bride is unique. How does your work help a bride choose wedding floral décor that reflects her individual style and personality?
We don’t have a distinct style. Some florists have a signature look such as classic, bohemian, or Brooklyn chic. Bride & Blossom is a floral design company that works specifically for weddings. Our design team is very versatile. This allows us to create any design that our client is envisioning. We work with the couple, their style, personal tastes, color scheme, and venue to put together a customized floral décor that best expresses them.
Since starting your own business, you’ve become a mother to two beautiful girls. How do you balance work and family life?
I will say it’s not always easy. When you have a family and your own business, it’s a constant juggle and you’re never really off. A couple of years ago, Cornell, my alma mater, asked me to speak on an entrepreneurship panel. I made the comment that I never had a maternity leave and was nursing with my computer on my lap. At the same time, having my own business gives me flexibility. I can be with my children during the day, take them to activities, and be very much involved in their lives. There’s a lot of working at nights and on the weekends. What’s nice about the wedding industry is that we have seasons. I can look forward to some downtime in the slower seasons. But even when I’m ‘off,’ I’m always in contact with clients and my team. From day one, we have made it a point to never let 24 hours go by without responding to an email or text. It’s very important that we maintain that level of communication with our clients.
Having children and a business is like having two babies, or I should say three since I have two girls. The situation comes with challenges, but also has its rewards. I much prefer this to having a job that revolves around someone else’s schedule. We have our weddings that are scheduled months in advance, which is very helpful in planning. I am very grateful to have my own business. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but I wouldn’t change anything.
What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Come to terms with the fact that you cannot do everything perfectly. I was told years ago that, “Perfection is the enemy of the good in business and life in general.” Being a perfectionist myself, I always strive to have everything run perfectly smooth. But you just can’t control everything. I also advise compartmentalizing work and life. While my business is always on my mind, I make a serious effort to be present for my family and involved in my children’s lives. It’s difficult because these days, we have constant access to work through our phones. Establishing that divide is something that I learned over time.
I would also say that being an entrepreneur is a very different experience for mothers. Starting Bride & Blossom before having children definitely allowed me to get my business off the ground and invest the time I needed to. Still, I was able to grow the company while raising two little girls. It can be done. You just have keep at it while finding a balance.
How would you describe your wedding style? What is your favorite flower?
I got married at a venue on the beach in West Hampton. I always wanted a beach island wedding, but we had a large guest list. Knowing that not everyone would be able to travel, we decided to stay local, but still keep a beach destination-wedding theme. My favorite color is purple, so I did shades of purple with green and white. I often think about how my wedding would look if I were to do it over again. It really comes down to the venue. But for blooms in general, I love romantic florals with soft greenery touches. Asymmetrical designs always look amazing. Yet, I still am always drawn to classic and elegant décor.
My favorite flower is the peony. They are not in season frequently, but when they are, we always encourage our brides to use them. Peonies are so beautiful and romantic with their soft, lush petals. And they have a wonderful scent.
What do you do to stay creatively inspired?
There’s so much visual inspiration out there. I collect designs, both traditional and trending, and think about how we can put a unique spin on them. Last year, we were really moved by greenery and did a lot of arrangements with a loose, organic look. Many of our weddings featured stunning hanging blooms that had an enchanted, secret garden feel.
Putting together designs for floral wedding décor is a very creative process. Five people can be working with the same flower recipe and concept, but come up with completely different designs. We love seeing this happen in our flower classes! Floral design is an art. Yet, we have to be very detailed and specific with our proposals. Today’s bride is discerning and has a good sense of her personal style. Everything from greenery accents to candles to types of vases are used to take floral décor to new levels. Brides often ask, “Do you have a photo of how the design looks.” We’ve done over 700 weddings and each wedding is different from the next.
Describe the perfect day off. What would you do to relax and enjoy yourself?
I don’t know if I’ve ever really had a day off! Even when I’m on vacation, I have to check in. The wedding industry is very fluid with things changing constantly. When I am able to take ‘pockets’ of time off, I love going to the beach. We are fortunate to live in an area with access to so many gorgeous beaches. Traveling is a passion and I enjoy exploring a new place. And I love to read, but just wish I had more time for it! Spending time with friends and family always makes me happy. I am the one who is planning the next birthday party or bridal shower. And of course, a couple of hours at a spa is always relaxing!
Do you have any major goals for Bride & Blossom looking into the future?
Absolutely, we had a shift in the past few years. From the beginning, Bride & Blossom has used web-based marketing and organic networking to build our brand. This approach has been very successful in penetrating the New York luxury wedding market. We want to continue to build on this foundation while maintaining Bride & Blossom’s boutique services. Looking to the future, we are considering taking Bride & Blossom services to other cities. It’s just a matter of assembling the right team to support the transition.