Since moving to Austin eight years ago, floral designer Carly Blair has made quite a name for herself with her innovative and beautiful floral designs at Margot Blair Floral. Specializing in wedding and event designs, Carly describes her work as “edgy, romantic, and simply stunning.” We wholeheartedly agree and have been lucky enough to collaborate with her on a few of our favorite shoots (take a look here). Since I’m sure I’m not the only who has wondered what it would be like to be a floral designer (get paid to play with flowers all day? Sign me up!), we asked Carly to be the latest subject in our Dream Job series. She kindly obliged and invited us to join her for a day in her flower-filled life — from client meetings to creating jaw-dropping arrangements and squeezing in a little trip to Cali. Hint: the girl loves her coffee.
Tell us about your job:
I’m the owner and Creative Director of Margot Blair Floral, a design studio in Austin known for its very artistic approach to flowers.
What’s the story behind the name “Margot Blair?”
Well, I was really young when I started the company, but very much didn’t want to be perceived as the kid that didn’t know what she was doing. In an effort to seem a little more sophisticated (and slightly less narcissistic, I suppose), I went with “Margot”, my childhood alter-ego. That was the name I gave to all of my dolls, and was my movie star name when I was playing dress up in the mirror, so it only seemed fitting that “Margot” got to come along on this new adventure with me.
How long have you been a floral designer?
I started doing flowers when I was 18 and brand new to Austin (8 years ago). I had moved out here for an unpaid internship as a wedding planner. During the week, I would drive out to San Antonio to work at my aunt’s flower shop and would then come back to Austin on the weekends to work some wedding magic. It didn’t take long for the two fields to become one, and here we are!
Where do you work?
I guess the answer to this depends on what day of the week it is. The Monday after a big event I do a lot of working from bed! But most of my creative work is coming out of my studio, which has found its home in a little blue house on the east side of town. That’s definitely more of my artistic haven, though, giving it a “mad scientist” effect that isn’t always suitable for visitors. For client meetings, we usually head over to pretty little bistros around town, like Hillside Farmacy or Josephine House.
A day in the life of Carly Blair:
Well, there’s really only one constant — COFFEE. The rest is dictated by what kind of project we’re working on and by the fact that I’m a champion multi-tasker. Depending on what I need to get done that day, I might be answering emails while I sweep the floor, or making a quick flower delivery while I’m on my way to a photo shoot.
On the creative days that have me writing proposals, I’m usually looking for inspiration in old magazines and taping pictures to the wall. And then in the days leading up to an event, all bets are off! I’m in the studio with the flowers from sun up to sun down, and usually only break for coffee… and to play with my dog.
Your favorite thing about your job:
The fact that it’s my art form, which makes it very fulfilling on a much deeper level than just being a “job.”
Your least favorite thing about your job:
…the fact that it’s my art form… Ha! On an artistic level, I feel very emotionally connected to the work that I’m producing. So when something goes wrong, or if I lose the battle against nature with things that are out of my control, it can really mess with my psyche.
Describe your floral style:
This is actually an inside joke, but I would have to say, romantic and unexpected. I’m always trying to strike that balance between something that’s fun and original, but still classic and elegant enough that you’re not going to look back and regret it.
Your favorite flowers to work with:
I have three types that tend to show up in most, if not all, of my arrangements: peonies, garden roses and ranunculus. They’re just so undeniably romantic! But they come in such an amazing range of colors that you’re not limited to one look.
Your favorite project ever:
Oh, there have been so many, it’s hard to choose! But having a famous musician call me up to deliver flowers to his wife every hour, on the hour, was definitely a highlight for me.
Any simple floral design tips for non-professionals?
“Simple” is the keyword. Don’t try anything really different at the beginning. Your arrangements might seem plain at first, but you’ve got to learn the rules before you can break the rules… and then that’s when the real fun begins.
Advice for someone interested in a career in floral design:
Don’t focus on keeping up with everybody else and the latest trends. Honing in on what makes you different, and giving yourself permission to let that shine, is what’s going to put you ahead of the game.
How you balance work and personal life:
It’s a constant battle. Especially working in weddings, which are milestone, life-changing events for people. So it’s just expected that you treat them as such and give them priority. But it’s very easy for that to become unbalanced, which is a rabbit hole that I definitely fell into at the beginning of my career, and burnout hit me pretty hard because of it. Now I try listen to my body when it’s telling me to slow down to take a trip to California. I also try to implement even the slightest of daily routines — something that 100% doesn’t come naturally to me, but that puts the focus back on my faith and the people I love. I know that when I’m looking back on my life in 50 years, those are going to be the things that will matter.
What’s next for you and Margot Blair?
We have a couple of really big collaborations in the works that I’m nothing short of giddy about. Both are taking a little bit of focus off of the events and are making our flowers more available to a wider genre of people… one of which I’m not at liberty to discuss (secrets, secrets!), but the other is something that people are definitely catching on to — our full-spectrum design work with Inkedfingers! If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll most certainly be hearing all the details on that one!