Cocktails with Calluna: Foam Free Florals w/ ALFD

Cocktails with Calluna

Friday, December 1

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Happy Friday! We’re so excited to welcome you back to another installment of Cocktails with Calluna! This blog series highlights some of the brilliant creatives in the industry that we get the immense pleasure of working with! This month – we caught up with Amy Dittmer, the owner and creative director of Amy Lauren Floral Design!

Photo Credit: Bonnie Sen Photography

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a wedding and event florist located in Arvada, Colorado. I have two kids and an incredible husband. My son is 8 and my daughter is almost 5! Phil and I have been married for 12 years. My family motivates me every single day to savor beauty, to work hard, and to celebrate as often as possible. I’m obsessed with gatherings of any kind but particularly weddings. I like to visualize a space in colors, textures, aromas, and most importantly feelings. One of my favorite aspects to not only my work but how I approach life, is creating space for people to feel something special. When they view my designs do I want them to feel excited, delighted, happy, or inspired. When they enter my home do they feel cozy, welcome, well fed, ready to party or all of the above. I spend a lot of energy thinking about these things and I hope more than anything that people feel the size of my heart in the things I create for them.

Photo Credit: Jess Leigh Photo

How did you get into floral design?

Before I started working with flowers I was a social worker in Washington DC. This was what I went to college for and how I planned on spending my career. After I had my first baby and went back to work I sensed a pull and shift in these plans. I wanted to explore a creative part of me that I never dreamt could also be my job. It was my chance to make a big change. I had always adored flowers. I knew a lot (for an average person) about flowers. I made them for my home and for friends as often as possible. Long story short, I quit my job and began apprenticing with some of the most talented wedding florists in my area. I invested in my education to learn and absorb as much floral and business knowledge as possible. One of my best friends was a Wedding Planner and she got me my first wedding! After that it was an obsession that grew and grew. I kept booking weddings and developing my floral style more thoroughly. 8 years later and I’m working on weddings I never imagined possible and creating designs that feel like “me”….not someone else’s Pinterest board.

What are some of your favorite trends that you are seeing?

Oh this is fun!

Minimal or no foliage designs with movement and depth

Textural grasses and ethereal concepts

Chartreuse! Is this just me? I’m obsessed with yellow/green.

Patterned linens, napkins, dance floors, dresses….patterns are so luxurious and fun right now.

Clustering. The concept within a floral design to keep flower varieties or colors together. Think of an installation with a large cluster of roses which leads into a group of snapdragons which trails off towards some cosmos. Like a dancing garden.  Or grouping in pockets of color without being obviously ombre. These concepts take great skill as an artist and I love seeing other florists working with this concept.

Analogous color palettes. Focusing on 3 neighboring colors on the color wheel. These color stories feel so harmonious.

This season, you made the decision to find more sustainability in your business. What inspired this change?

It’s been on my mind for years now and I finally took the plunge towards more sustainable practices. When I first began in floristry I didn’t know any better. But by now…I certainly do. It can be really hard to change old methods or habits. Working with more sustainable materials as a florist can feel really uncomfortable…even scary. The risk of killing all of your flowers is real.  They need to be hydrated well and transport well! As we started taking on larger weddings it became evident that plastic waste, especially in the form of green flower foam had to be completely removed from our tool box. It took some really great floral friendships from folks feeling the same things that gave me the confidence to go for it. I’m so glad we did! We designed some of our largest installations to date without a single piece of flower foam this year. If you can do that you sort of feel like you can do anything!

Can you tell us a little bit more about sustainability in the floral industry as a whole and what you are doing to try to make it more sustainable?

There is so much that goes into “sustainability”. It’s kind of a loaded phrase right? We have opportunities to be more sustainable in a million directions. We could discuss fair wages, carbon footprint, shipping materials, distance of travel to venues, composting, heated greenhouses, buying off season crops,  sourcing locally grown flowers vs. imports, candle waste, ceramic waste, metal waste, single use plastics…. the list is huge. So, I’m not perfect. Far from it honestly. But one of the biggest conversations in the floral world in recent years is “flower foam”. The green bricks used to make centerpieces, installations, aisle markers, even bouquets (whyyyy?). It’s actually a single-use plastic with a lot of mysterious chemicals in it. It does not break down in a landfill. Even the varieties that say they do, do not. Lots of “greenwashing” in this industry. Florists designing large events could be using hundreds of bricks of floral foam for each event. It’s a huge volume of plastic waste. This seemed like a no brainer as one of our biggest steps towards more sustainability. So now we use only compostable, recyclable, or reusable mechanics. We wash and rinse water tubes and chicken wire each week so we can use them again. We use foam alternatives that literally turn into compost. This has added quite a lot of time to our prep,  and also deconstruction of an event. In my experience, it’s been worth the extra effort and investment on our end to make leaps and bounds towards decreasing the damage we cause our planet and communities. Not to mention it’s made us more resourceful, creative, and inspired artists! I could talk about this endlessly. I’m an open book. If you’ve found yourself here as a florist and would like some help making these changes, please reach out!

Photo Credit: Cat Galletti

What has been the hardest part? Most rewarding part?

The hardest part is finding the right materials that check all the boxes for us. Compostability. Recyclability. Reusability. Functionality. Durability. Lots of hours have gone into this research and it hasn’t been easy!

The most rewarding part….now I can look back on designs I used to make with flower foam and sort of giggle. It’s so unnecessary in most designs. I can’t believe I was so scared to make this shift publicly. Not using foam is like complete freedom. I don’t need it. I don’t depend on it. If I woke up tomorrow and it was deemed illegal or unavailable…I wouldn’t care one bit. For a long time I thought there were certain designs that would be impossible without foam. Like ground installations, cake meadows, and arches. Once we finally went for it and started creating magical floral runners and installations without foam it was like a snowball effect. We started saving rubber bands, separating green waste, using bubble wrap from shipments to transport flowers, and sourcing even more locally farmed flowers. The list goes on. In 2023 we designed our largest wedding to date which was an achievement on its own. But the fact that we designed the entire wedding without a single brick of floral foam makes me so proud I could cry.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Sen Photography

What advice would you give a younger you?

Keep doing what you’re doing. It WILL pay off.  I look back on any stupid decision I made as a business owner and recognize what it taught me. (Why do styled shoots or “collaborations” come to mind here?! anyone else?!) I would also tell myself to always be authentic. Don’t change who you are as a down to earth person, in order to get the right kind of clients. I’ve remained true to myself and attracted the kind of people who I love working with. People I admire as good, kind, smart and artful. People who value me as an artist and treat me as such. I would  tell myself…”one day you’ll have an entire team of people helping you. You won’t be doing this alone anymore. Keep pulling all nighters right now…cause one day you won’t have to. You’ll eventually build a beautiful floral business that is thriving and you’ll be so proud of it.” I think younger me would just smile, put her head back down, and keep working her ass off.

Give us a little glimpse into life outside of work?

We don’t sit still. My family and I love to travel. This year my husband and I took a trip to London, Brussels, Champagne, and Paris. Talk about a dream adventure. When we wrapped up our last Fall wedding we took the kids to Hawaii which was the best kind of vacation. We could all snorkel all day everyday if the opportunity presented itself.  If we’re not working, we’re playing. Hiking, biking, sports, or restaurant hopping…. If we’re not playing we’re working on projects. I can always find a wall to wallpaper, tile to grout, or a plant to plant. My garden is my favorite place to spend time. I grow a lot of flowers! If I weren’t a florist I’d be a chef. Cooking is one of my very favorite creative outlets and I love delighting people with good food, fun drinks, and a magical atmosphere.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Sen Photography

What is your favorite cocktail or what are you drinking tonight?!

This is too hard. I love crafting cocktails. I gravitate towards herbal or floral cocktails. I think a twist on a French 75 is always fun. Infused chili syrup and muddled basil for an herbal kick. Citrus. Gin. Top with bubbles.

What I’m drinking tonight…

a warm drink like a chamomile/lavender tea latte.

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