If you’ve been on social media lately – ahem, you have – then you’ve likely seen pictures of your friends’ favorite pets. No, not the adorable cat who’s probably sleeping in a dark, cozy corner and not the silly looking dog who was probably on the receiving end of the cheese slice challenge. Rather, we’re referring to all the plants, succulents and flowers soaking up attention like it’s sunlight. One of the best places to learn about all things flowers and plants is She Loves Me, a small shop in Petworth that opened this January. The storefront is the brainchild of The Lemon Collective co-founder Holley Simmons and features arrangements, succulents and workshops. One of the talented people crafting these beautiful works of art is florist Megan Adams. During a recent stop at She Loves Me, we talked with Adams about her early love of vegetation, how she expresses herself through the medium, and the differences between old school and new school practices.
On Tap: How did you get into this line of work? What drew you to plants and arrangements?
Megan Adams: I grew up in a really tiny town in Washington state – the other Washington. I was always surrounded by nature; my mother always had a garden and it was part of growing up. I always had this artistic need to express myself in some way, but I was a terrible painter and a terrible drawer. I tried sculpture and mixed media; I basically went through the whole list and nothing really ever spoke to me. I gave up on it for a little while. Eventually, I got involved in event production and wedding planning, which led me to meeting florists who I began working with.
OT: How does a florist become a florist? Is there school involved? Do you become an understudy?
MA: There are schools but they’re not that common, especially seven or eight years ago. [In the schools], there’s a very structured, traditional way of doing arrangements. I didn’t feel there was a ton of room for creativity. That was never something that appealed to me, so I went the route of being an understudy and working for an established florist who gave me the basis of her knowledge in Oregon.
OT: What is the trial-and-error process for a young florist? How do you practice?
MA: That is very much based on who you’re working with and who’s teaching you – where they picked it up. It’s definitely a passed down-type trait, especially with my style. When I started, it just sounded like fun. I wasn’t necessarily viewing it as my medium, I just kind of started working and doing holiday arrangements. All I did was make garlands and wreaths for eight hours a day. There was something so beautiful about being able to work with my hands – to have all of these separate pieces and to bring them together into one cohesive work.
OT: With art, there’s a freedom to fail. Do you feel that as a florist?
MA: Absolutely, that’s definitely part of it. I’m very lucky in the fact that I was allowed to mess around with stuff and figure it out. With that said, you’re working with perishable items that are not cheap. What I would do is take home flowers that we didn’t feel comfortable selling because they were about to die and just play with them. I also did a lot of foraging to practice at home.
Can’t Live Without
Family + friends
OT: What led you to She Loves Me?
MA: My fiancé is the general manager at [Chef Johnny Spero’s Georgetown spot] Reverie, and I was working at the restaurant. I offered to do arrangements for them at cost. The running joke at Reverie is that they pay me in wine and cheeseburgers. Holley [Simmons] happened to come in for dinner one night. After finding out I did the arrangements in the restaurant, that led her to get my information and then she hunted me down a little bit [laughs]. Within 10 minutes of us sitting down and talking, we were sort of flabbergasted that our conversations felt so natural and we felt so connected – not only as people but in what we love and what we want to create.
OT: Do you think this field has always been popular, or is it in the midst of a revitalization?
MA: I think it’s always been popular to a certain extent. I think flowers and plant life are so beautiful that a lot of people are drawn to them. There’s definitely been a shift in that the very structured, old-school way of doing it has given way to people branching out, messing with different products and going off the beaten path. That’s what led to the classes that we’re doing.
OT: What classes are you part of?
MA: We do a springtime wreaths class, which is something that most people don’t think of. They associate wreaths with Christmas, holiday time, evergreens – this very specific version of what’s possible. Our concept is to take a flower arrangement or something that you have in your yard and create something that can be dried so it’ll last longer.
OT: I see plants on Instagram a lot now. What do you think makes them so popular?
MA: I think part of it is probably social media and being inundated with influencers and the people that have these beautiful setups. For me personally, if I ever lived in a place like New York City, I’d probably fill my house completely with plants because it would be a way for me to connect with what how I grew up, which is being surrounded by that life. It’s a combination of both. It’s interesting how powerful social media is in pushing trends.
She Loves Me Must-Haves
High-quality flowers + greens
OT: How do you approach newbies coming into the shop looking for their first plant?
MA: A lot of people that come in are nervous about it at first, but we pick up on it and we try to have plant life we recommend as starter plants for people. That kind of takes the pressure off, so even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still have a beautiful plant in your living room.
OT: What are some misconceptions about working with or owning plants?
MA: I think the biggest misconception is that I just go and work with flowers all day, and it’s soothing and relaxing. There’s so much beauty in it, and to a certain degree it is relaxing, but you’re also lugging heavy buckets. There are boxes of vases and huge buckets of flowers, and that’s not even getting into installations. It’s a lot of work.
OT: What’s most rewarding about being a florist?
MA: I like demystifying the whole concept behind flowers, flower arranging and color concepts. I think that’s a big difference between the old school and new school, because traditionally you stick to two or three colors. What we work with is an entire palette, so it’s not just pink and whites – it’s all the different variations of that.
OT: How often do friends hit you up for last-minute arrangements? I feel like that would happen all the time.
MA: It does, and I’m not all that great at saying no, so it actually does happen quite a bit. You’d be surprised how many wedding things I’ve put together last-minute. As soon as Pinterest got popular, people began to think they could do it all by themselves; and then a month out, they realize it’s complicated.
For more information on She Loves Me including classes, arrangements and more, visit www.shelovesme.com.
She Loves Me: 808 Upshur St. NW, DC; 202-627-2604; www.shelovesme.com