Q + A
the voice of Jessica of Pickletown Flower Co.
Jessica, the owner of Pickletown Flower Co., isn’t one for the status quo. The NYC transplant’s path from working at a non-profit in Manhattan to owning and operating a floral business in Colorado was somewhat of an unlikely journey, with no shortage of lows and their complementary highs. What started as a side hustle flourished into consistent work in 2018 — and finally, a full-time gig in 2019, just as her second child was entering first grade.
Her entrepreneurial spirit has carried Pickletown Flower Co. into many phases since its inception. Now, her arrangements can be found in multiple shops throughout Colorado, including a massive installation recently installed in Union Station. We sat down with Jessica to learn more about her journey, her craft and the lessons we can stand to learn from plants.
How did you find your calling in floral design? And how did it lead you to Colorado?
My husband and I lived in NYC for many years while I worked for a non-profit. My office was located right near the Flower District, and I loved walking around the markets. I started playing around with floral arrangements and ended up doing the flowers for my company’s events. That was the spark. People would see my arrangements and would ask me to do their weddings and corporate events. At that point, it was still very much a hobby.
Then, I had my daughter. When she was a little over a year old, I started thinking through what I wanted to do creatively on the side. I began the application process to apply for the Floral Design program at the New York Botanical Gardens, but just before the program, my husband got a job offer in Colorado.
Right after we moved, I had my son; there was no way to pursue floral design full-time. Still, I started thinking through my dream flower business. After having done a few weddings, I knew I did not want to go that route, nor did I want to be stuck in a shop all day. I needed something flexible.
I found a used truck, converted it and created what is now the Pickletown Flower Truck in 2018. Things started coming together in 2019: the truck was complete, my son was entering first grade and I knew I wanted to work my business full-time.
The artistry of your business has somewhat of a cult following. What do you believe makes a floral arrangement a Pickletown arrangement?
From the beginning, I always wanted to show the diversity of flowers. In retail florals, it’s the same old, same old. The unique flowers are often reserved for the wedding industry, but I wanted to flip that idea on its head.
I started with that concept and worked with local farmers during the summer to get varieties for the truck. When the pandemic hit, we had to pivot into shipping our arrangements — something I initially did not want to do. I knew that delicate flowers wouldn’t make it in the shipping process, so I designed the Florence bouquet — Pickletown’s most popular arrangement that I named after my grandmother.
Texture, color and a mix of dried and fresh flowers make our arrangements so unique. I think a lot of our clients are drawn to the dried components of our arrangements. Not only are the dried florals non-perishable, but they remain beautiful for a very long time.
What have flowers taught you about life and beauty?
There’s a lot there! Before we can talk about flowers, we have to talk about weeds. Part of my floral journey started by using weeds as a medium. I was inspired by the fact that we collectively consider weeds “unwanted.” But just like the times in my life that were difficult — that were unwanted — I wanted to create something beautiful out of them.
Flowers, on the other hand, are beautiful in every stage. The bud, the bloom, the fragrance, the fading – there is a way to use them at every point in their lifecycle. Understanding that has been a very sweet experience for me. It mimics human life. When we are young, we are beautiful; and when we fade, we are beautiful. We just have to see it that way.
Explain how you maintain balance as a mother and business owner.
Maintaining balance is definitely tricky. It’s been so hard. When I decided to work full-time in 2019, we talked about it as a family. I said to my kids, “Mama’s gonna hustle. It’s going to take grit, and it’s going to take a lot out of us, but mommy’s a badass and will make it work.”
To tell you the truth, I haven’t worked out in two years, I gained weight, I drank a lot of wine — I haven’t learned balance quite yet. I knew what it would take going into the business, and I made the conscious choice to bring Pickletown where it is today.
This past Mother’s Day was a sort of significant transition time for me. I don’t want to grind like that anymore. I now understand what I want from the business and what the business wants from me. I am figuring out everything along the way. I am beginning to move into the space of balance.
When someone requests a custom arrangement, how do you ensure that it blends into the space or the home?
Any given week, we have three to four inquiries for custom installations in homes and local businesses. We have a very specific process for that. First, customers fill out a form and send us both photos and dimensions. Then, I will personally get on Facetime to talk through the space and style. I pride myself on being great at capturing the unique styles of people. Just recently, two very different hair salons reached out for custom installations. I was able to create arrangements that were unique to the salons with a Pickletown twist. It’s very collaborative.
Has architecture influenced your designs in any way?
I am very inspired by Europe and the old feel of classic New York City buildings. I love that neutral color of stone — it’s almost a linen color. Every time we are working on an arrangement for Pickletown, if it looks too bright or intense, we throw in some tan. We “Pickletown-ify” it. Everything we do has this subtle vibe.
During my travels to France and Rome, I saw a lot of that linen stone color. And in those countries, you’ll see flowers bursting all over the buildings. It’s the perfect color backdrop. My truck is such a muted color because we wanted the truck to be the beautiful backdrop that allows the flowers to shine through.
To what or to whom do you attribute your success?
My husband has been an incredible source of support. He has become the stay-at-home working dad. He cooks, he cleans, he takes the kids and runs them around — he does it all. Having a family is challenging as a business owner but having a partner like him makes me feel so supported. We have empathy for each other.
Internally, much of my success has come from my determination and perseverance. I’ve been through a lot, and because of it, I have so much grit. The hard days I have are really hard, but nothing can be as hard as what I’ve already been through.
Being an entrepreneur is no joke. You have to have the passion for the thing you’re doing, but you also need resilience. You need to be able to get back up over and over again. And that is a hard thing to do.
Where do you find inspiration in your daily life? Do you have any recommended books, podcasts or publications?
Part of my art inspiration comes from seeing the work of other designers that I really admire. I read a lot of books, but You Are a Badass by Marie Forleo helped me launch my current way of thinking. She has several books and they’re all worth reading.
I’m also inspired by the fact that I have to do this. I have this intense motivation to succeed in what I see for this business, so I will continue pushing new ideas in the floral industry.
To order your own custom Pickletown Flower Co. arrangement, visit the website at pickle.town or follow along on Instagram.