Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
My name is Jenny Rae Siplo and I am the owner of Flowerwell Farm and Design Co. At Flowerwell, I grow specialty cut flowers and also design for weddings and events May through October. I also sell the flowers at farmer’s markets & to florists, teach flower classes, and I have an online antique shop called Zin and Honey! Do I sound crazy? I love it!
What are you passionate about? What makes you tick?
I have always been someone who likes a challenge. But I also really thrive off of being creative. There is something magical about creative energy. I find mine in many places, but when I am outside, nature calms me and my creativity is really empowered. That might sound strange but that is the best way to describe it. I made this friend at the Brighton Market where I sell flowers. Every Sunday he comes by my tent and does some Tai Chi with me. He talks to me a lot about how we find our Chi when we are interacting with nature. I don’t know much about Chi, but when I am at the farm, interacting with the flowers, thinking about my next design, I feel both connected and creative. This is why I am not a traditional florist. Ordering flowers out of a online catalog or from the back of the truck does not inspire me. Cutting flowers from my farm where I grew them does. I think it is a game changer in floral design and I want to share that with others.
How did you get started? What were some of the difficulties you faced?
I dreamt for years about becoming a flower farmer and designer. I thought if I could plan and study about what I needed to know to be a flower farmer, by the time I had my own home and land I would be ready. But you can only think about a dream for so long before it either fades or your heart is telling you to go for it. I was in a steady, but unfulfilling, job after I graduated college. I had also experienced some life trauma that many at that age have yet experienced and that had an impact. I started flower farming while working full time. I could start to feel how happy it made me. Being brave enough to follow through and just do it full time was nerve wracking. But as soon as I did it, the weight was lifted. That was the biggest difficulty of all. Sure I had to learn how to run a business and be a farmer. But I was happy and I had a vision. Flowerwell was born with the help of many loving and wonderful people. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, and it still is. But I am so happy to be following my dream.
(Handlettering by Chloé duPlessis)
What is your biggest regret?
I think my biggest regret was before I started Flowerwell, I let myself become unhappy professionally. When my boyfriend launched his company, Filmwell Studios, I got to watch him leave a miserable job and transition to starting a fantastic business. It was liberating and invigorating. I did not want to become complacent. I wanted to want to get up every morning and get to work. As soon as I figured all that out (with his help) I started to turn things around. They aren’t joking around when they say you control your own destiny.
What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had given you?
Go out on a limb. Most important thing you can do. Because you just never know. Early this year I desperately wanted to focus on my design work. One of my absolute favorite designers, Tulipina, was teaching a workshop in Virginia. She is literally world-renowned for her floral design. Each piece is mesmerizing and a work of art. Truly beautiful. She was the one I wanted to learn from. I took her workshop and designed with a room full of the prettiest flowers. It was amazing and learning from her was a dream. I then went to work for her in California for some larger weddings and I am traveling with her to Italy for a workshop in October. That is real life. And none of it would have happened if I hadn’t gone out on a limb.
What inspires you? How do you recharge creatively?
I am always looking at plants, flowers, the way a vine crawls up a tree. How the forest feels in the morning. I also love old things. I have an old soul, what can I say. Old buildings, old spaces, old barns, old anything. My boyfriend and I are buying an 1850’s home on 15 acres of woods, ponds, and future farm space. It is literally my dream come true. My design studio will be in a livestock barn from the 1830’s. I want to be surrounded by what inspires me and gives me creativity. I am so excited for what is to come!
What is the most challenging part of running your business?
The most challenging piece of running the business is that the learning curve is a bit harsh. I tend to be one of those people who really likes to do a stellar job and do it right. I had no idea how to be the accountant, book keeper, website designer and office manager in addition to being the farmer and designer. This year was also a hard farm year. Being in an area that was termed “severe drought” and with record heat was, needless to say, difficult and heartbreaking. The flowers came later than expected and were hard to grow this year. A lot of hours were dedicated to get to where we are today. But the good news is that I am told if I can grow flowers this summer, I can survive any summer! As for the rest of it, I just keep learning everyday and learn from my mistakes.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
I love designing for my clients. Teaching them about the importance of local flowers and how my design work differs is amazing. We have moved on from tussy-mussy, ball-like designs with roses that don’t smell like anything and were grown in a warehouse (not joking). I want lush, fresh, romantic, garden like arrangements that evoke your senses and curiosity. I want it to be something different. I want you to say, “wow, that is really beautiful”. THAT is the moment I love.
Name some local creatives/business owners that you really admire.
Lindsay Lau of Lindsay Stephany Photography has been a rock-star friend and someone who I really look up to for her talent, creativity, and overall good person-ness. Her work is amazingly beautiful and she loves playing with flowers just as much as I do. We have teamed up to do Mommy & Me flower sessions that are some of my favorite. We bounce ideas back and forth a lot which keeps the creativity flowing!
The Scratch Bakeshop gals and employees are amazing. I just think they are so kick ass. They welcomed me with big arms last year when I started selling my flowers at pop-up shops. I can’t say enough good things about them. I look up to them and I know so many others who do to.
I might be bias, but Shaun Swanson of Filmwell Studios is the best partner in crime one could ask for. I am often inspired by his creativity, attention to detail, and his ability to be the best Videographer in Western NY and also a flower farmer. He saves me in the spring when farming near breaks me and he always has my back.