Cincy Chic: How did you get into the floral business?
Courtenay Lambert: I was helping my mom and my aunt with one of my five sisters’ weddings, and that was all she wrote…I loved it! I was doing consulting work for GE, and always new that I wanted to do something creative and fun, but just wasn’t sure what it was until then. My sister got married in Palm Beach, and as soon as I returned to Cincinnati, I signed up for flower classes under the tutelage of Skip Dorl (of Kreutzer and Dorl Florist). I soon thereafter started passing out business cards in my neighborhood (Mt. Adams, at the time), and began doing small weddings and parties. My business just kept growing from there forward.
Cincy Chic: We know you do weddings, but do you do flowers for other types of events?
Lambert: I do flowers for all types of functions. In fact, when I first started, I did more events than weddings, but that changed as soon as I set up shop in the Madison Avenue Wedding District in Covington. Today, the majority of my business is weddings, but it also includes fundraising and corporate events. And in the future, we will be targeting all types of large functions including, weddings, fundraisers, parties and corporate events.
Cincy Chic: We’ve seen your work before and we love that you go beyond the flower arrangement and you pay attention to details. Tell us about some of the extras you can offer, in addition to flowers…
Lambert: At Courtenay Lambert Florals, we are event florists, meaning we specialize in flowers and décor for special events, weddings, parties and fundraisers. We offer just about anything that has to do with the look and feel of the event, including first and foremost florals; but also including non-floral centerpieces, fine linens, specialty vases, candles, table top lighting and more.
We pride ourselves on obtaining and using the best available materials. For instance, the ribbon we use for our wedding bouquets as well as some of our centerpieces is from the best manufacturers, and people definitely notice the difference. If you see my Web site, www.courtenaylambert.com, you will see that one of the details I’m obsessed with is vintage rhinestone brooches. I collect brooches and sell them in my shop as a décor item. A couple of my 2007 brides bought them for their bridesmaids to wear during the wedding and also to decorate their bouquets. We laugh, because I always have to whip out a hanky when one of my vintage brooches leaves the store, as I have a hard time parting with them. Each one is hand picked by me, and each one is unique. But, when I have a customer who appreciates them as much as I do, I figure I need to spread the beauty around.
Cincy Chic: What type of education do you need to get into a job like yours and how do you keep the fresh, new ideas coming?
Lambert: Well, unfortunately, my Bachelor’s degree in History is not being applied in my field. But to start, I do believe you should take a floral design and technique course if you want to enter this business. Another thing that is so important is to keep up on the trends, and I pour over just about every wedding and event design magazine that’s out there. It’s really important to know what your customers are looking at to gather inspiration, and those materials include the latest wedding and event magazines and books.
Lastly, I feel it is extremely important to continue to educate yourself. We attend seminars, special events conferences, and recently we’ve joined International Special Events Society, which is a great source for networking with special event professionals and sharing ideas.
Cincy Chic: When someone is looking for someone to do the flowers for their event, what types of things should they look for?
Lambert: There are so many things to look for when you are looking for a florist. It depends on the emphasis you want to place on florals and/or décor for your particular event. I think if you are looking for wedding flowers for a smaller wedding, there are a lot of good florists in our area and you need to look at their work and see if their style is something that hits a chord with you. If you are looking for someone to do an event (large wedding, corporate, fundraiser, etc.), you should look for a florist who specializes in events as they tend to have a lot of experience with set up, lighting requirements, etc. In other words, they know what looks best in certain venues and what other materials are needed to enhance the ambience for the event.
Cincy Chic: What’s your favorite type of flower?
Lambert: That is such a tough question, because there are so many that I love. I guess if I had to pick my all time favorite, it would be the Gardenia, which has a short life span, but is beautiful and beautifully scented. But, a longer lasting cut flower favorite of mine would be the Black Magic red rose, which is so velvety and stunning!
Before I got into this line of work, roses were just OK, but not my absolute favorite. But learning that there are so many different types and qualities, and experiencing the highest quality roses, you really see the difference between grocery store flowers and a florist’s premium quality. Not to say you cannot get gorgeous blooms at the grocery (you can), but a professional florist always has access to a plethora of premium flowers; whereas a grocery store does not always stock top quality blooms because they are a bit more expensive and may not sell on a daily basis.
Cincy Chic: What’s your favorite thing about Cincinnati?
Lambert: I think Cincinnati is the USA’s best kept secret. I love that when people move away, a few years later they’re back. Cincinnati has a high rate of return on natives who leave. That alone is proof that this is a great city! I also love that the city has so many signature family businesses (ie. LaRosa’s, Skyline, Graeter’s, Busken’s, etc.), to which Cincinnatians are loyal. There is a strong sense of community in this city, and I think it creates feelings of belonging and accountability among Cincinnatians, which creates great pride in the city.
Click here or on the play button below to view an exclusive webcast with Courtenay Lambert.