Vendor Spotlight - Earth Within Flowers // Champagne + Linen // Western Montana Wedding Designers and Planners
Here at C+L, it's extremely important to us that we support local businesses and are environmentally cautious. Lucky for us, Melissa Lafontaine embodies both of those things. We first met Melissa before we first launched back in 2016. Ariel was off honeymooning in Mexico, Mariah and I started scheduling meetings with different vendors just to introduce ourselves.
Melissa was one of those first meetings! We met at the Lake Missoula Tea Company. If anyone knows me, you know I'm the introvert of C+L. I'm so lucky to have Mariah + Ariel who kill the networking game. But this meeting with Melissa was my first solo mission. Thankfully, we clicked and talking was very easy. Until Melissa asked me one question - what is your mission statement?
Well, at the time that was a tough question. The three of us are very like minded, I knew what we believed, but putting that simply was difficult. I rambled about how we don't have a definitive statement but we want to be approachable to couples and support local business.
Melissa knows exactly what her values are and we sat down to talk to her about all things Earth Within Flowers.
Tell us about yourself! How/why did you get into flower design. How did Earth Within Flowers come to be?
Earth Within offers the local community an earth friendly alternative to flower sourcing through artful arrangements and education. We connect flowers to their meaning and cultural aspect as much as possible and purchase our flowers from local and NorthWest farmers. We arrange flowers for weddings, events and just because! We also offer workshops on the 1st Thursday of each month.
In 2013 Melissa completed a certificate in urban agriculture at Brooklyn Farmyards , with an urban flower and vegetable farm, where she discovered ways to give back to the earth through ecologically friendly growing practices. In Brooklyn, she discovered the slow flower movement, where local farmers benefit from adding flowers as a cash crop and local community members celebrate with blooms that compliment their natural environment. For 3 seasons, her love and expertise for creatively arranging flowers blossomed during her time as a floral designer at Molly Oliver Flowers.
Melissa relocated to Missoula, Montana in 2014 for Graduate school, and Earth Within Flowers was born! Melissa studied Plant-based Education obtaining an MSc. in Environmental Studies and applies her teaching skills to her workshops. Despite the challenges of shorter growing season she was thrilled that it is still possible to source flowers from local and regional farmers during the summer months and design with dried flowers in the winter and early spring.
Why is it important to work within the community and to obtain flowers from local and regional farmers?
Working with local farmers is such a joy. In the winter months I meet with them and provide feedback on the colors and types of flowers to plan for in the upcoming season. I believe local flowers compliment the surrounding environment best. That's a big reason why we used dried flowers in the winter-time when all is sleeping (i.e. the gorgeous flowers from C+Ls very first styled shoot, featured below). It's also lovely to support the livelihoods of the folks in my local community and surrounding states with whom I have direct relationships with.
What advice do you have for couples who are looking for a wedding florist? What advice do you have for couples when it comes to working with a florist?
I recommend couples decide on their color palette and overall "look" for the wedding prior to connecting with a florist. Also, having a rough idea of your budget for flowers is very helpful. Our pinterest page has tons of color palettes and inspiration. Creating a "pinterest page" for flowers that you love will help you be able to see your inspiration next to your attire, shoes, tablescape and overall decor and allow you to make those tough decisions in a more visual fashion.
Can you explain the importance of Flower Justice?
85% of the flowers in the USA come from flower farms in Columbia and Equador where labor and environmental practices are less than ideal. Think about the journey that a flower takes from the soil, the pesticides (some of the ones they use in South America are illegal in the USA), the people's wages that grow, cut and package the flowers. The transportation, the design process and then finally having them displayed at your wedding. When flowers comes from local sources people are paid fairly, the soil and environment are treated with more respect and the flowers are more fresh and in my opinion more beautiful. It is truly a win-win. If you are interested in learning more about flower justice and how Valentines day is known as the 'International Day of the Flower Farm Worker' please visit our website.
Here is a little excerpt from my website:
"We love seasonal, local flowers not only because they represent the beauty of the present environment but they also tackle issues of social and environmental justice, one bud at a time. It is not surprising that today; over 80% of the blooms sold in the United States are imported from Ecuador and Columbia. They are produced where farm workers are often undervalued, overworked and exposed to toxic chemicals. If you are interested in learning more on the subject I encourage you to visit the Fairness in Flowers Toolkit."
Melissa will be hosting a Ethical Valentines Day Bouquet Workshop on Tuesday, February 13th from 6-8 pm at MUD. The three of us attended this last year and it was a blast! I still have my bouquet next to my bed.
We are so so glad that Melissa was willing to meet with us before we launched C+L. We cannot wait to finally have a wedding with her this summer.
If you're looking for a florist, make sure to check out Earth Within Flowers.