InteriorsLife & Business

Making the Most of the Space You Have with Florist Whit McClure

by Quelcy Kogel

Making the Most of the Space You Have with Whit McClure via Design*Sponge

Inspiration can be such a double-edged sword. It can simultaneously propel and thwart us. Finding and pinning the workspaces of my favorite creatives fills my head with a dream studio — a far cry from my current setup. Sometimes it’s enough to make my head spin until I feel stuck.

This is the danger of inspiration. It can make us feel like we don’t have enough to start where we are, but Whit McClure is inspiring me to pursue my creative dreams and passions with what I have. In her case, she uses the dining room in her shared Echo Park, Los Angeles home as the hub for WHIT HAZEN, her floral and jewelry design studio. The space is a blank canvas that ebbs and flows with her creations. She is fortunate to have accommodating housemates, who Whit says are “generally more in awe than annoyance with my process.” It helps that Whit surrounds them with beauty.

Whit launched her business from a place of deep conviction. Flowers allowed her to get her hands dirty and above all, to express her reverence for the natural world. For years, she worked in D.C. in the non-profit world, focusing on community gardening and food justice. She had the opportunity to work with a florist before moving to LA and fell in love with the industry. Whether bonding with neighbors over her small garden, or gathering local herbs and produce from the farmers’ market to make and vend floral creations on the fly, her background in community justice shines through her floral career.

“You can always find a reason not to take a risk in life,” Whit shares. “There will always be something that is not quite figured out. Social media has us all thinking that each and everyone of us *woke up like this* (love you, Beyonce, and get in touch for some flowers) with our perfectly curated lives, when in actuality, the struggle is real, and the rent is too damn high.” So let Whit inspire you to follow your passion and dive right into your dining room, or whatever unconventional space you have to work with. Below, she shares her tips for working with what you have and the advice she wishes she’d been given when starting her floral business. —Quelcy

Photography by Ciarra Walters and Whit McClure

Image Above: Flowers drying in florist Whit McClure’s Echo Park dining room.

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Find a mentor. It took me over a year to find seasoned pros who were willing to share guidance, encouragement, and resources with me, but it has made a world of a difference in my professional growth.”

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Don’t just ask someone to be your mentor. Put in the time and effort to show that it will be a beneficial relationship for everyone involved.”

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“Create a system to keep roommates informed about your production days. I’m fortunate to have pretty chill roommates, but in order to not push their patience with me, I give them a heads-up as to when I have weddings and will be in peak production. I tell them in person and remind them as we get closer to the date, but another helpful way could be creating a shared calendar.”

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“Leave your workspace straightened up/ organized at the end of each day. For me, that means sweeping up, taking out the trash and compost, and organizing what is still in process so that my roommates can walk through the space without the looks of it stressing them out. It also helps me start back up with ease the next day.”
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Envision what sort of florist you want to be. From doing upscale luxury events and weddings out of a studio, to owning a flower shop, there are a number of different avenues you can go. Each route has its own particular advantages and challenges, regarding exposure, overhead costs, etc., so do some research.”
Making the Most of the Space You Have with Whit McClure via Design*Sponge
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Go work with a florist and see if it’s what you really want to do. While it may look like we are just playing with flowers, floral design is strenuous work. I’m talking very early mornings, long hours, and flowers are remarkably heavy. Reach out to a designer whose work you admire and inquire about working with them. Starting out, you’ll be doing a lot of schlepping, sweeping, and cleaning flower buckets, but those tasks are just as important as creating arrangements. If you find yourself in good spirits and not complaining, then you’re golden.”
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Decide who your target client is, then focus building your brand and marketing towards that person. This will save you a lot of time and energy, because you’ll be able to quickly identify which sort of work or projects align with your overall vision and goals, and which ones will steer you off course.”
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Find your people and build your community. Creating breathtaking beauty requires a lot of hands, and finding people who are hardworking, talented, and fun to be around make the long hours worth it in the end.”
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Whit's background in community gardens and food justice inspired her to start her own front yard garden for vegetables and flowers, which enabled her to bond with her neighbors. She later found out her landlord's grandmother, who had lived in the house, was the neighborhood gardener. She used to sell her famous roses at 12 stems for $5 - a steal! Whit said, "I was reminded of the beautiful power gardens hold in being able to forge dialogue with strangers."
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Down the line, Whit’s dream is to create a space “to bring together flowers, food, music, and art, that is a living, sensory experience for people to take in, build community, and enjoy.” Whit is less concerned with renting or owning her own space and more interested in accessing unique spaces through pop-ups, but she says, “if the right studio space comes my way, you better believe I’m gonna hop on it!”

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Whit loves sitting at her dining room table, sipping coffee and making her signature jewelry.
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When she's in the jewelry-making phase of her business, Whit's bead trays help her to avoid spillage and beads under her roommates' feet.
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In working with flowers, Whit says, "I found my way of communicating with the world," and that is a beautiful thing!
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"Power to the People" is part of a new project inspired by Whit's passion for flowers and social justice. "I hope these images will inspire and create dialogue about our continuing need to learn from our history and move forward to protect, uplift, envision, organize, and resist!"

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