I wouldn’t call myself a foodie, but my hips don’t lie – I am always happy to eat. I’m pretty sure my mother is convinced I subsist on a diet of doughnuts, ice cream and cake because hello, you can’t be making healthy choices if you’re still struggling with your weight. Not true, but since I have very little interest in trying to explain the causal factors associated with sleep and stress, I’ll let her believe my dieting woes. By the way, this cookie is amazing. Despite the rumors, I actually cook – and healthfully! Lately, we’ve been making banana pancakes and pretending it’s the weekend (fyi, it’s just banana + egg + coconut flour = amazing). Oh, and lots and lots of chili, stew and soup. The kitchen is one of my favorite spots in our little home, where we have had some of our most meaningful, hilarious and serious conversations. And I’m not alone in this kitcheny love – floral designer Cherie Marquez combined her love for blooms and food to create La Fleur Kitchen, her Los Angeles based floral design and styling studio. Sounds lovely, no matter how you slice it.
NAME Cherie Marquez
AGE 36 (oh, don’t remind me)
LOCATION Los Angeles, California
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND UW Huskie turned UCLA Bruin studying both business & film and somehow that resulted into floral design
COMPANY La Fleur Kitchen
Tell me a bit about your company & how you got started in the floral industry. La Fleur Kitchen is an event floral design + styling studio based out of Los Angeles, CA. We design for social events and gatherings. Growing up in Hawaii, everything was green, lush and beautiful. I’ve always been drawn to what mother nature provides us with. I would love to pick wildflowers. I learned to make Haku Lei’s (the Hawaiian version of a flower crown) and ti-leaf skirts at a very young age from dancing hula. I’ve just always had a love for flowers, trees, plants – you name it. I’ve always been in the design/art work field, just never for myself, only living out other people’s dreams. Four years ago, what started out as a creative outlet with a few workshops during a hard time in my life, turned into something truly rewarding for myself. From then, I played and practiced everyday with flowers. I learned from those that I admired and even traveled afar to discover different floral styles and techniques. I never thought of doing floral design professionally, but here I am.
Is there a story behind your company name? Of course there is! I wanted something that spoke of my style, so using the French origin of my name, Cherie, by giving ode to “the flower” and my love for food. I love what food does to a group of people. Growing up, my family always had big gatherings and part of the fun was what went on in the kitchen. Not only was it so many delicious ingredients, but happiness, laughter and even some crying. Regardless, what came out of the kitchen was always something so wonderful with the food and the company. So, La Fleur Kitchen was born.
Once you decided to start your own business, what steps did you take to make it reality? I put myself out there. I was vulnerable. I’m such a planner, that at times, I just needed to stop thinking so much and just do it. I took advise from the floral designers that I admired, learned from and collaborated with and put my designs and ideas out there. Instead of buying gifts, I gave flowers away. The more I did, the more people took notice. It all seemed to work out in the end.
Tell me a bit about your colorful experience designing the florals for The Brand Market workshop in the beautiful Studio DIY headquarters. That was a fun event. Kelly, from Studio DIY is probably one of the most colorful human beings I’ve met. When The Brand Market sent me the inspiration behind the design of the space, I instantly thought vibrant, spunk and pineapples! I tend to use more softer flowers and foliage in my work so when I’m asked to go bold, I definitely try my best to make that statement. Part of designing for someone is getting to know their own style. Taking what they envision and combining that with something that represents you is what makes the design process so fulfilling. I’ve never used pineapples in my arrangements before, but there is a first for everything, right?
As you well know, entrepreneurship is (literally!) a full-time job. How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance? My daughter and yoga keep me grounded. My daughter has been the biggest teacher in life. Yoga has taught me to open my heart, forgive and to know that life is always a practice. It’s hard work to own your own business, but there are so many benefits. I love that I can make my own schedule and be able to spend time with my family or even myself when I need to. Nothing worthwhile in life is easy. It’s important to live and experience life. It’s one of the most important things I think that will make anyone succeed. I’m lucky in the sense that floral design is not just something I love, but also something that is very therapeutic for me. I can get lost in my flowers, yet alone talk to them. I’m fortunate to say that I enjoy going to work.
What have been the most rewarding and challenging aspects of owning your own business? Honestly, the most rewarding is seeing how my work evokes emotion from those I’m designing for. It’s almost like a tiny chapter from a life book that I was part of in a small way. Since I studied film in school, to me a story is so important. I was in their story! The most challenging at first was saying ‘no’. I wanted to do everything and anything and when I saw an opportunity, I took it. However, I overwhelmed myself at times. Now, I take things at a slower pace to give the proper & deserved attention.
What one pearl of wisdom would you share with budding entrepreneurs? You want something? Well, go get it. And expect to work hard! Is that too harsh?
Fast-forward five years. Where do you hope to see yourself & la fleur kitchen? I’ve always toyed with the idea of having my own storefront and having the retail component. I go back and forth on this, but I think if I find the right space in the right place I will know the time is right. I also see myself bringing more of the educational component to La Fleur Kitchen with more workshops (and yes, even offering workshops in other locations) and working with others that are interested in floral design.
Guilty pleasure? Salt & Vinegar Chips and re-runs of Friends
Coffee order? Green Tea Matcha Latte
Words to live by? I’m such a quote person. I have a new favorite every time. But this one always stuck. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou
Favorite corner of the world? Anywhere, as long as my family is there.
Song you could listen to on repeat? Unforgettable by Natalie & Nat King Cole
Photos 4 & 5: Ester Lee Photography