Expert Advice

This Celebrity Florist Gives Us the Ultimate Lesson on Working with Flowers

Learn all the rules, so you know how to break them.

By Jenn Rose Smith
Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

“As soon as I knew it was a viable profession, I knew I wanted to pursue it,” says Jenn Sanchez, who has designed florals and events for the likes of Marie Kondo and Bri Emery of DesignLoveFest. She has a knack for making flowers exciting, whether it’s a cellophane covered fashion install or a lavender lined aisle. Her talent for combining florals in unexpected ways (along with her serious work ethic) have made her one of the most in demand florists in Los Angeles. We met up with Jenn at the stunning Rose Story Farm in Carpinteria, California to chat about the best flowers of the moment, the formula for a great arrangement, and what it really takes to make it as a floral designer. Scroll down to discover some of Jenn’s favorite flowers, and start dreaming of your next trip to the flower market.

photographed by sara prince

Florist Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

You’ve done floral installations for everything from fashion editorials to private dinners for celebs… tell us about one of your wildest installations:

Well, “wildest” in terms of designing with a short time frame goes to any installation with suspended product. No matter how much time you are given… you could always use several more hours. Just lots of tiny hand work, but so fulfilling to create. 

floral design class

You’re a painter and artist who works with many mediums — are florals a theme that runs throughout all your work?

I painted since I was a child and yes, often gravitated toward florals in still life. In my classes we would bring flowers and fruit from home and arrange them with a lamp overhead to create dramatic lighting, such a distinct memory of that.  However in recent years I guess I am much less interested in studying them in a two dimensional way. Tangibly designing with them is a very different sort of study that I have really enjoyed, so now when it comes to painting I am drawn to everything and anything as subjects, except flowers. 

Jenn Sanchez, florist

When did you first know you wanted to become a floral designer?

Interestingly enough, prior to meeting other business owners my only experience with “floral design” was what I saw at the grocery store, cellophane wrapped bouquets and the like.

I was completely unaware of the complexity and multidimensional ways in which one can be a florist for a living.

When I knew it was a viable profession, I knew I wanted to pursue it. 

Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

What’s the hardest thing about working as a florist?

The lack of control you have over nature as a living, changing, evolving medium, which is something I have learned to be much more flexible with and in a way find very thrilling. Just one of those seemingly obvious points you don’t consider when you have blinders on pursuing a dream. 

floral design

And what’s the the best thing?

I live for the movement of it, the constant change of pace. I love to wake up early, to have a full day and go to sleep exhausted from working hard. Working with flowers will most definitely do that to you.  

Jenn Sanchez with Scarlet Gum blooms.

What’s your favorite flower of the moment?

In this current moment it’s the blooms on the Scarlet Gum trees all around my neighborhood, their flowers are like little miniature tassels which are just delightful. 

floral design

Give us the scoop on floral design trends — what approaches are feeling fresh and what feels dated?

Always a difficult question! While I gravitate toward a more garden-architectural style I believe all sorts of floral design has its place in the proper context. What feels fresh right now is using less quantity of flower varietals in arrangements, sticking to a couple striking elements en masse. I find it really serene and easy to look at.

What feels dated? Anything that is trying too hard to be relevant and “trendy”, I think design is about making your own way. 

Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

Which flowers give the most bang for your buck when it comes to making a statement on a budget?

Not a specific variety per se, but plants from nurseries are always so impactful. If you are design-shy, I always recommended this route for a creating an impactful moment at a get-together.  

Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

Favorite floral scent:

Sweet peas, and gardenias for a close second.  

Rose Story Farm

Any tips for creating an arrangement that feels really special?

Nothing makes an arrangement feel more special than growing your own flowers for cuttings, but if that is not an option, forage! Most places in the county and world have unique flora and foliages that can really make any piece feel distinct. 

Jenn Sanchez making an arrangement with specialty alliumsJenn Sanchez making an arrangement with specialty alliums

What’s your favorite “splurge” flower?

Specialty are always a favorite, especially  love allium schubertii, siculum, and stellatum.

Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

Best flower market to visit:

The San Francisco Market, unabashedly envious of all designers able to source from there! 

Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

Any rules for designing tabletop florals?

For rectangle tables I always like to keep conversation height in mind, meaning the dense moments of the piece shouldn’t be over the height of your fist when you place your elbow on the table. Or forget the rule altogether and be as dramatic as you want, I do that also. 

Jenn Sanchez at Rose Story Farm

What advice would you give to someone wishing to get into floral design?

Freelance for a lot of people before fully diving in and be ready to learn. There is a massively physical component to the job that I don’t think a lot of people anticipate, understandably so. Also, working for other people exposes you to a broad range of aesthetics and ways of approaching the business of flowers which is so immensely valuable.  

Jenn Sanchez with Totally Tangerine Dahlias

If you were a flower, what would you be?

Currently very into the dahlia variety ‘totally tangerine’, the hue and shape feel so vibrant and summery. 

Jenn Sanchez with Totally Tangerine Dahlias