Wedding Visionary: A Garden Party
This year here on the blog I’m focusing on a few things, one of which being encouraging others in the wedding industry who are using their talents and knowledge to be innovative. I’m working my butt off to create a successful online shop full of modern, creative, unconventional event decor. Much like that, the companies that I’m going to feature are using their brains to fill holes in their market, make money during the off-season, or simply work less weddings while continuing to serve their couples. I hope you enjoy learning about their drive and get inspired to start a little visionary project of your own!
Mary and Dawn, those two pretty ladies below, run a floral design studio out of Elmer, NJ called A Garden Party. Their mission is to “bring joy to others using flowers to send feelings.” Isn’t that great? If I lived in NJ, they would seriously be my personal house florist. Because then I’d have a house with a foyer and a round table that I would pay them a million dollars a year to keep fresh flowers on. They are the best.
They started their business almost 10 years ago to help couples discover the way that their love story can be represented with flowers. Every client has a unique sense of style, and we love helping them find ways to express themselves on the most important day of their lives.
image by Tami & Ryan Photography
Dawn and Mary recently opened A Milkhouse Party, an event space near their farm that they hold floral workshops and small parties in. On to the interview:
Why did you start this visionary business? What hole in the industry or in your community are you seeking to fill?
We originally started renovations for A Milkhouse Party because we needed a space to work with our DIY brides – brides who want to make their own wedding flowers with our guidance. Further into the project, we realized we could use it to teach floral design classes, such as terrariums, centerpieces, floral jewelry and wreaths to local members of our community who were looking for something fun and different. We were excited because we knew that this would give us an outlet to have more freedom in our designs, and some more flexibility in our schedule. There was such an interest in the space, we have now opened it as an option for outside vendors to come and teach their own passions, such as soap-making, jewelry, calligraphy and watercolors.
What have your challenges been in your new venture?
Renovations were more extensive than predicted – not only was the building filled to the brim with old furniture and tools, but a new ceiling and doors had to be installed as well. Originally, the address wasn’t showing up in GPS, so it was hard to advertise the location, and the numerous permits and legal hoops we had to jump through to make it a legitimate business operation definitely put some pressure on us. When you first have an idea, you focus on how you want to space to look and the end goal, but the road to get there has a lot of bumps before you reach the freeway. “Hard work pays off” is definitely ringing in our ears now that we are finally able to get started with the fun stuff!
In three years (I like using three as a starting point. Five feels ways too far away to me and one is too close), where do you see your visionary business being? What are your goals?
In three years, we hope to have a regular workshop schedule, with annual classes for people to look forward to. We are already learning the timing that appeals to most people and what classes are more popular. We are also hoping that this will eliminate our “slow season” – with weddings, certain months are almost dormant, while some are completely chaotic. Having the schedule and income of A Milkhouse Party will give us some regularity, and hopefully let us limit the weddings we take each year so we aren’t overwhelming ourselves during the busy season to make up for the slower months.
A Milkhouse Party has also provided us with open land for us to plant our own gardens. We are so excited to extend our cutting options and look forward to future years of flowers and greenery for the freshest product to work with for both weddings and workshops!
The milking parlor used for A Milkhouse Party was originally our grandfather’s – we have gotten enormous satisfaction in bringing it to life again. The sentiment behind the project as it relates to our family’s history has brought it even closer to our hearts. The workshops have given us a lot of freedom in that we are in complete control over the flowers we want to use and the type of design we want to create. We are also able to explain during classes why we made each selection, and why we love our profession so much – and people actually pay to hear and see what we do! To know that we can share our passion with others and that they are interested in hearing what we have to say has given us a lot of confidence and pride in what we’re doing.
image by Tami & Ryan Photography
Thank you to Dawn and Mary for sharing their new business, A Milkhouse Party, with me. I love the meaning behind the space and how it will go towards inspiring others to be creative. Hey Southern Jersey people, check them out!