We became aware of your work through your uniquely beautiful and inspiring Instagram account, @brrch_floral, and messaged you to see if you would want to participate in the Lingerie On Film project. Was there something in particular that made you want to be a contributor?
I was so happy that you were asking for my perspective beyond a flower arrangement. Though they are largely (understatement perhaps) a part of my life, it has felt strange to be reduced to that only. I love documenting and I loved the previous project and the lingerie (especially the iconic Lost in Translation moment) - it was sort of a no brainer for me.
Where did you grow up? Do you think the location has shaped you in anyway?
I grew up about an hour north of the city (NY), just south of Harriman State Park. A part of me romanticizes the place I grew up in, purely in regards to its accessibility to nature. The amount of green you see there in comparison to the city is in such stark contrast. It wasn't rural, but I could go for a hike or camp in wood cabins within a 15-minute drive from the house I grew up in, and there were some ranches and farms nearby as well. My memories of my hometown are filled with the distillation of the usual suburban characterizations we've seen in entertainment media over the decades. Those Edward Scissorhands, Wonder Years, Freaks and Geeks, Virgin Suicides scenarios. Even though the depictions are heightened, at their cores there are still themes that ring true to life growing up outside of a city. There was no room for being unconventional in a small town without eyes gazing upon you. Even though I know it is a dream of others, personally, I couldn't bear the idea of being a domestic housewife and so I consciously built a life that would allow me certain freedoms. I had a lot of time as a kid to just run around outside, making things out of mud, eating flowers, drawing on my body with dandelions, watching caterpillars, collecting cicada shells and rocks-- a lot of playing. I walked around with a video camera a lot filming my brother too. My longing for those visceral memories has definitely played a role in shaping my current life and me. The place definitely contributed to my development but not singularly; there are many other factors.
"There's a certain kind of playfulness I find imperative to both my life and work that likely stems from those hours I was left to imagine worlds in my backyard."
What was your childhood like, and how was creativity and self-expression cultivated in your adolescence?
I had a really active childhood. My parents always encouraged creative exploration and were pretty hands off in that way, allowing me to discover a lot on my own. My father worked 7 days out of the week during some seasons and it became my job to help him at flea markets on the weekends. I would help him sell things and mostly look out for people trying to steal things. I was probably there to keep him company and make him laugh. I sold my Pokémon cards and would run around looking at antiques and eating pickles on a stick in whatever location we were in, old empty airplane lots or horse tracks. When I wasn't doing that, I was either on a sports team, in dance classes, voice lessons, acting classes, or in a play. My first dream was to be a ballerina and then I wanted to be Whitney Houston. My mom came from a family where she was forbidden from pursuing an arts degree so she was always encouraging of my pursuits and never told me to be quiet no matter how many high notes I tried to belt or how many walls of our house I turned into a drum kit.
My grandma's house was basically a time capsule of the 70's so every time we visited I would always try to imagine all of the stories that house held and even more so what that time held. I was always imagining alternate realities, the classic daydreamer, drawing in my notebook.
In High School, I did a bit of acting, voice-overs and commercials that sort of thing, I was in about 3 plays per year and pretty serious about it all. Eventually, I took up songwriting as that had peaked my interest more at the time and then I attended Berklee College of Music and now here we are.
Photo by Brittany Asch
What excited you as a child, and what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to win an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) and I wanted to help people. I saw how making people laugh and performance were a kind of medicine. I also went through an astronaut phase until I did the space launch simulator in Florida and that was a good lesson in dreams vs. reality. Other than that, I was a big Challenger Learning Center fan.
Is there a part of your childhood that gives context to who you are today as a person?
All of the previously mentioned applies. I was also bullied pretty badly by this group of girls for 2 years before middle school. Morally, that has been a huge marker in who I am and what I won't stand for in treatment of people. I was really shy- so the way I learned to deal with the harassment was to go inwards and study. My defense mechanism and way of coping, was to imagine everything going differently than it was, and to throw myself into training. I remember telling my dad at the time that dance was the only thing that made my life feel bearable. I would dread going to school every day- which turned my focus and interests to life outside of academia. Other than that, all of the strange myriad of activities I was involved with were pretty influential to my constitution- my parents thankfully made sure I was interacting with all walks of life.
You trained to be a musician. What kind of music did you create? Do you feel a connection between your music and your floral work?
Not directly but there is probably similar brain activity happening. I gave up music before truly discovering my musical identity when my father passed away. Any kind of vulnerability at that point was not an option for me, so I just sort of shut off that valve. That's when I started to work with flowers.
You founded BRRCH in 2013. What inspired you to become a floral designer and start your own company?
After my dad passed away and I had sort of turned my back on everything I had been raised to do, I was pretty lost. I was working at a restaurant with the intention of having the time to think about my next steps in life. There was a girl bringing in flowers every week and I had a moment. I had grown up going to nurseries with my parents–they loved plants and landscaped our yard as a hobby. It became very clear all of a sudden that it was something I should at least try. A loud but gentle voice I couldn't ignore.
Photo by Brittany Asch
Can you share with us how you learned your craft?
The work I create now is very different than what I learned when I started but I think that's because I've changed quite a bit. I found my style as I started to understand myself more- and in breaking away from everything I had learned and everything I thought I had to be. As a result of my upbringing, at the time I had the mentality that you have to train at something in order to pursue it, so I took classes, freelanced under a bunch of people randomly for 2 years and then took the leap. I followed the models of success that existed before me until I realized they did not apply to my life or me. Arranging flowers and making a living working with flowers are two entirely different things.
"I don't know...I like to make people feel, I guess. You know that sense of wonder you feel as a kid? I try to bring people back to that place."
A wonderful sense of color exists in your compositions. What is your approach to building a color palette?
I just like certain things together. It's all intuitive, my whole process. I could not tell you anything about the color wheel, except for primary colors.
What qualities attract you to a particular flower or plant?
It’s a feeling, the same thing that attracts you to certain people.
You have produced flower pieces for music videos, short films, instillations, album covers, royalty, and His Holiness the 14th Dali Lama (whoa!) Which project has been the most interesting to you thus far?
Working on a feature film. So interesting, and informative.
What is most gratifying to you about your work?
How much joy it brings people. I’ve received messages of people telling me it helps them cope with the world and depression and gives them hope in their lives. It makes me feel like a flower nurse, and that makes me happiest.
Can you walk us through your process of planning an arrangement?
Every place has different needs. I try to tune in to what they are.
Are there any special secrets to putting together a satisfying arrangement?
Haha, no. No special secrets there. That's a personal journey, I'd say. There is no one way for all and some people are insatiable by nature, myself included.
Photo by Brittany Asch
The New York Times recently called you one of the most forward thinking florists right now - what do you think is on the horizon for your craft?
I have no idea, I don't think about things in that way. I just focus on what I need to be doing day to day to produce the work that I want to produce.
When you are getting dressed do you think about color the same as you do when you are working with flowers and plants?
Sometimes. I am always thinking about color just not always acting upon the thought. I often like to hide so that I can observe rather than be the observed. At night though, I don't care, anything's game.
What piece of clothing makes you feel most like yourself?
My shiny green Molly Goddard dress, an oversized T-shirt or my opera style kimono.
What is your approach to style? And do you have a daily uniform?
My style for work is very different than how I prefer to dress recreationally. For work, it is comfort first and often a sweatshirt and jeans, always loose fitting so I can move easily. I don't like to be aware of my physical presence when I am working- all of my bodily functions typically shut down and I have to remind myself to eat and drink. For life outside of work, I really enjoy experimenting the way I do with flowers.
Can you share any favorite IG accounts?
What is something you've loved for a long time?
My dog and solitude.
What’s something you wish you knew how to do or that you’re currently trying to learn more about?
What are you most passionate about lately?
Are there any principles that help guide your day, actions, or lifestyle?
I try to be a more improved version of myself than I was the day before.
What is the favorite gift you have received?
An ancient love potion from Mexico. It has a gilded sacred heart. I haven’t opened it.
Photo by Brittany Asch
Can you share a favorite quotation, lyric, or line from a book or song that has stuck with you?
"It costs a lot to be authentic and one can't be stingy with these things. Because you are more authentic the more you resemble what you've dreamed you are." Excerpt from All About My Mother, Pedro Almodóvar
"Don't be a hard rock when you really are a gem." - Ms. Lauryn Hill
What is something that you feel is overrated?
The french fries at In 'N' Out
Is there anything you could recommend to us?
Plenty. Depends on what ails you. An ocean dip is usually a cure all. That and fall in love with somebody.
Can you fill in the blank? - Beauty is_______.
I really love John O'Donohue's thoughts on beauty, which he elaborates on in conversation with Krista Tippett on her podcast 'On Being'. He said, "Beauty is that in the presence of which we feel more alive."
He also notes how beauty and glamour are separate. I agree. Beauty is often arresting, extracting you from space and time. When I am in the presence of something truly beautiful, my whole being is swallowed- and in that moment I become part of whatever it is my senses are engaged in. It encompasses far beyond the visual for me.
What are you currently.
Coveting? My bed, time to sleep.
Watching? 1-3 films a day
Listening? A playlist I made for summer rain. It opens with "One" by Aimee Mann. There's also Aretha and Fiona and Kate Bush.
Dreaming? Of love, always
Thank You, Brittany!
You can follow Brittany at ~ @brrch_floral and www.brrch.com