Vendor Story: Pozie by Natalie

Bellingham-based florist, Natalie Ransom of Pozie by Natalie is giving “flower power” a whole new meaning. While her talent for floral design is apparent in each arrangement she creates, she also puts her passion for petals to good work in her community through what she calls “floralanthropy.” From supporting local charities like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County to mentoring on the Whatcom Chamber of Commerce to serving on the board of Whatcom Women in Business, it’s no wonder why Natalie was voted ‘Best Florist’ in Bellingham Alive’s Best of the Northwest for 2016.

Get to know the story of how her business bloomed.

How did you first become interested in floral design?

I grew up as a farm girl in Houghton, Michigan in the rural Upper Peninsula. I live and work in Bellingham but I also still consider myself a die-hard ‘Yooper’ (a nickname for those from the “U.P.” or Upper Peninsula.) I’ve loved flowers for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, one of my earliest memories is that when I was sad or upset, I would crawl into the baby’s breath bushes around the farm.

My father, Chip taught me how to forage around the farm and use what was available to create beautiful things to sell at farmer’s markets and craft fairs. Flowers have always been a part of me. From my dad, I learned to love nature and the joy of sharing that beauty with others.

How does living in the Pacific Northwest inspire your floral design?

Because of my roots on the farm, I try to use what’s in season from local, sustainable growers as much as I can. I’m thankful to have high quality options among the farmers here in Whatcom County and the Pacific Northwest.

Each piece is bespoke. I augment what’s in season with my favorite addition, succulents, as well as an occasional exotic. I love to add elements of fiber, metal, glass, fruit, vegetables, and whatever sparks my creativity at the time.

Do you have a favorite flower?

I have a new favorite flower every 5 seconds and I continue to fall in love with them over and over again. It’s why I love what I do so much. I love working with both flowers and plants together. Succulents appear often in my work because they are rich and substantial. I make them into jewelry, and incorporate them into bouquets, pots, and other pieces whenever I can.

What’s one of the most memorable or meaningful floral pieces you’ve worked on?

My passion project for the past year has been a celebration of local bounty and the changing seasons. My friend Piper shared a vintage seasonal photo series on Facebook. I was instantly drawn to recreate them using all local, foraged product – a true representation of the unique beauty of each season. I asked my friend, Katheryn Moran Photography to help and recruited friends as models, including Piper. I’m thankful to have time and the support of other creative businesses in my area to accomplish projects like these.

You’ve made a name for yourself through your kind acts for the community. Tell us more about your “floralanthropy.” What inspired you to give back through your flower business?

My mother Cindy was a nurse and philanthropy was always a part of our life. She still volunteers at a hospice house in her retirement. My parents and I also did Meals on Wheels together in Michigan. My parents have always been very generous and helpful people. It delights me to use my floral work for what I call ‘floralanthropy.’ It’s been my honor to donate my work or give significant discounts in support of several Whatcom County charities, including providing floral styling for events, galas, and auctions for non-profits like Lydia Place, Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County, and the Alzheimer’s Society of Washington.

Lydia Place is one of my favorite places to use floralanthropy. They provide housing, supportive services, advocacy, education, and raise awareness of the faces and causes of homelessness in the Whatcom County area. I can see the positive difference that they’ve made in our community. A young woman I met there is such a success story. She had been addicted to methamphetamine and became pregnant. She got involved in their programs and was able to control her addiction. She started attending school for nursing, but discovered she had an aptitude for math, so she switched to a surveying program that will allow her to have a stable profession at a living wage. She now has a three-year old son that she can provide and care for in the long-term. I love how you can see the good they are doing for so many.

I work with them where ever they are at, either through donations of my work or at wholesale cost. We work together to make events great like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and other holidays, plus pieces for galas and fundraising events.

What’s your all-time favorite love story?

My parent’s love story is my all-time favorite.

In the late 1960’s, my parents were both hippies living in Colorado. They both worked at a Mexican restaurant and lived together in a tent with their two cats. To this day, Mexican is our favorite food. They’ve had a lot of adventures together in their life. They moved to Michigan and bought a farm together with almost no experience. They’ve created a wonderful home that they share with friends, community and school groups, making things like apple cider.

I admire them because they have such an exemplary partnership. They’ve never lost that spark. They’re affectionate. I couldn’t have a better model of what it means to really love someone, what it means to be in a relationship, and the give and take needed to make it work. They are both strong independent individuals and haven’t stuck to traditional gender roles. Everything hasn’t been sunshine and lollipops, but it’s a real relationship based in mutual respect and unconditional love. They are a team. They laugh together and have always worn ridiculous, awesome coordinating Halloween costumes every year. I didn’t appreciate the costumes when I was a kid, but now I can see it is just an example of their deep partnership. They’ll have been married for 42 years this September.

 

Vendor Story: Picstop

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a photo booth owned by a husband and wife duo is worth a whole lot more. Inspired by a love for the spontaneous moments photo booths inspire, Kate and Alex started their Portland-based business, Picstop with an admirable dream in mind: “to create one of the best photo booths in Portland that someone could rent for hundreds less than our competition.”

Get to know the story of their business and their own love story.

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How did Picstop come about? Tell us more about how affordability and fun inspired the business.

As far as I (Kate) can remember, I’ve always loved photo booths. I have photo strips from 20 years ago that I still look back on as keepsakes. When Alex and I were married back in 2012, we couldn’t afford a photo booth at our wedding (at least one that we would love and be proud of.) We ended up buying an instant camera, building a backdrop and having a friend run the “photo booth.” We made due with what we had, yet to this day we dream of what it would have been like to have a beautiful booth at our wedding. Fast-forward to 2013, and the dream for Picstop came alive at a friends wedding. Alex and I frequented that booth more than anything else that night and had way too much fun.

Thankfully, we had the help of multiple friends to help build this dream. Yes, we actually built this booth! Our friend Tom helped with the design, and the Speiss/Francis clan (Tiny Luxury on HGTV) did the actual building along with Alex’s good friend Brett. My sister-in -law Olivia of Olivia Strohm Photography helped design our logo, and our buddy Nate helped with our website.

Had you always dreamed of starting a business?

As a couple, we never made plans to start our own business. Alex is a pastor at our church and is the type of person that needs consistency. He would much rather have a 9:00-5:00 job that has stability and doesn’t have to wonder about unknown things. I, on the other hand, have dreamt of so many things but no ideas that were worth pursuing. That’s why we have the potential to be so good together. He needs my spontaneity and I need his structure.

What’s been the most rewarding part of Picstop so far? 

For me, the most rewarding part of Picstop is when I get to witness someone having the time of their life while using our booth. It makes me so happy when I get to see loved ones making memories, being fun, being spontaneous, and breaking out of their shell. At one of our events, I got to witness an older Dad and his 6 sons (who happened to look identical) all come together in our booth and be silly and fun.

Another moment that stands out to me was when someone proposed in the booth while taking photos. He timed each step of the proposal with 1 of the 4 photos. It’s moments like this that allow me to take in the moment and be so proud of the service Picstop offers.

As a husband and wife duo, tell us a little about your own love story. 

Alex is the best man I know and my best friend. He’s someone that everyone looks up to and respects. We met when he was leading a day trip to the beach with our church’s college group back in 2011- July 30th to be exact. He was the driver of my van that day. We weren’t especially flirty that day, however, we did spend a lot of time in groups. I remember that he was near me most of the day making sure I was okay and taking care of me. (Marry a guy like this, ladies!) That day, he came adorned with a mustache and tattoos – two things I’m not crazy about. I kept feeling that he was intriguing, but I couldn’t tell if he was cute. Turns out he’s incredibly good-looking. Plus, he’s the funniest person I know.

We started dating on September 10, 2011 and were married September 29, 2012. We’re quickly approaching our four-year anniversary, and I can say they have been the best four years of my life. We also have a 9-month old baby girl and her name is Ella. People say she looks just like Alex, and I love that.

What’s it like owning a business with your spouse?

Owning a business with Alex has been all the emotions: exciting, filled with pride, rewarding, and challenging. Some times we both don’t know what to do. What do we do if our software malfunctions? How do we get more business? Is this work actually worth our time? I have an exciting, every-day-is-a-good-day, happy personality. Alex is the realistic thinker who can problem solve anything. Because we have such drastic personalities, it can make owning Picstop more challenging. We definitely butt heads once in a while, but there is so much potential for us to do amazing things when we work hard and trust one another’s strengths. Regardless of how successful Picstop is, I’m so thankful that I’ve got to experience owning this business with my best friend.

What is your favorite love story? 

I’m a sucker for love stories. It drives Alex crazy that I only want to watch romantic comedies or Pixar movies. I have a little bias, but I like our own love story the most. Yet, for the sake of this question, I’d say our favorite love story (or one of them) is that of Albert Brennaman and Allegra Cole from one of our favorite rom-roms, Hitch. Albert’s the goofy, overweight, “loser” and Allegra is the wealthy, successful, beautiful bombshell. Everyone loves the Cinderella story. No matter how many times we watch Hitch we can’t help but find ourselves rooting for Albert and celebrating with him when he gets the grand prize. We think marriage, more than anything, is about friendship. Who cares how sexy your husband is if he’s not your best friend?!

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juliet + lou Event Planning and Design

Juliet + Lou

For Hannah and Elsa, wedding planning is a sister act. Combining their stunning styling skills, fancy for flowers, and servant’s hearts to deliver unforgettable celebrations, the two of them make up the dynamic design duo known as juliet + lou. With an impressive track record of weddings (like Carissa and Daniel’s beautifully woven big day) and styled shoots, it’s safe to say that these sisters will continue to shine in the wedding circuit. Get to know their story.

What sparked your love for event planning and design?

H: It happened so naturally. Growing up, we were both creative kids. We loved fashion, doing crafts, and creating stories. When we were out of high school, we were always the go-to girls for anything decorations related. Whether it was a friend’s wedding or a work party, we were always appointed the party planners. A few summers ago, we did our first wedding together. The couple and family were so happy with everything we did. We thought, “Hey, we’re pretty good at this, maybe we should start a business”.

E: As Hannah mentioned, we’ve always been party-loving, craft-building people. When we started working with brides and families, during one of the biggest events of their lives, I knew that was what I wanted to do. The joy and fulfillment of being able to create an event that celebrates people and the big events in their lives is indescribable.

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Kiara Bright-Hancock of Bright & Co. Events

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While Kiara Bright-Hancock of Bright & Co. Events may be a newcomer to the Pacific Northwest wedding planning scene, she is no stranger to organization and celebration. Combining her experience as an NFL cheerleader and 10-year administrative professional, she is now excited to begin a new chapter. What better way to infuse her enthusiasm and attention to detail than with a career in wedding and event planning? Her future is off to a promising start, as she was just named a recipient of a scholarship to attend next year’s Sinclair and Moore workshop, “The Elements of Event Design.” Get to know Kiara and her new venture, Bright & Co. Events below:

What sparked your love for weddings and event planning?

I have always had a knack for organization and planning (as demonstrated by my profession.) When I planned my own wedding, I was able to infuse that knack with my passion for parties and celebrating big events…and voila! Bright & Co. Events was born. The icing on the cake for me was being able to be there for people on some of the biggest days of their lives and to help them celebrate while enabling them to be present and in the moment to enjoy and create the memories that will last them a lifetime! Being a part of something like that is so special to me.

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Holly Stalder Designs

Holly Stalder is in the business of turning romantic reveries into reality.  A Portlander with a penchant for lace, Stalder designs one-of-a-kind wedding gowns that are available at the charming storefront, Diamond Sea Bridal. Whether they’re dripping with elegant detail or vintage flair, her gowns are inspiring works of art. Get to know the designer and story behind the custom dress line below:

Tell me about the inspiration behind your bridal line.

I am fascinated by lace and it’s delicate beauty, the drape of silks, the movement of tulle.

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How would you describe your style?

Vintage glamour with a modern edge.

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Gaby Bayona of Truvelle

With such an effortless, modern aesthetic, it’s hard not to fall in love with the brilliantly-branded brainchild of Gaby Bayona, Truvelle. Her simply stunning dress creations have helped turn brides across the country into visions of understated elegance. With her successful 2014 and 2015 collections and the latest 2016 collection’s launch, it’s easy to see that Truvelle is showing no signs of stopping. Get to know the hopeless romantic behind the Vancouver-based line below:

Tell me about the inspiration behind Truvelle. Was it more of a light bulb that went off or a gradual dream you nurtured? Truvelle happened organically, stemming from my experience at my mum’s custom dress shop. I had just graduated high school, and was spending my free time designing graduation gowns in shades of blush, ivory, and gold. I was surprised to find that brides – not graduates – were the ones resonating with these gowns; people were looking for something fresh and I had accidentally stumbled upon the answer. Fast forward three years later, I decided to break free from the custom dress world to start Truvelle under the premise of modern wedding gowns.

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Kim McCormick of Kimmi Designs

With up-cycled fabric as her medium, Kim McCormick of Kimmi Designs hand-crafts stunning wedding gowns that each have a story to tell. Whether it’s piecing together a gown with the vintage lace she collects or elegantly updating a bride’s mother’s gown, Kim McCormick has a knack for turning something borrowed into something new. “I just love the creative process and working one on one with brides,” says Kim. Get to know the creative mind behind Kimmi Designs below:

Tell me about the inspiration behind Kimmi designs. Have you always dreamed of designing wedding dresses? My inspiration comes from my love of lace and nature. My grandmother taught me how to sew, and I originally didn’t set out to make wedding dresses. I just kept getting asked to make wedding dresses, and then I realized how much I loved making them. I use up-cycled fabrics and often times a bride will also come to me with an heirloom fabric, such as her grandmother’s curtains, to incorporate into her dress. I love working with heirloom fabrics for wedding dresses because it’s an opportunity to carry the bride’s family’s history into the future. Weddings are so much about family, so it’s very special.

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The designer at work. Image by Jenah Smith

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