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Meet Abby Barbrick of Sugar Rose Flowers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Abby Barbrick.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Abby. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I became a florist entirely by accident. So many florists come from a long line of horticulturists or designers, people who always loved arranging flowers or owned a storefront. It’s true that I have always loved working with plants, but I had no training whatsoever, no family background, no feeling that floral design was my true calling. Prior to this career, I had been a massage therapist for eleven years. I dabbled in floral design on the side, just doing small events for friends at first and then starting to get into larger guest counts as friends referred their friends.

I was four months pregnant with my first child at the time that I started booking slightly larger events and was trying to think of how I could truly make it work as a career. I just didn’t know how I could work in my holistic health field after my son was born without daycare, which wasn’t an option I wanted to pursue. There had to be something else I could do that would allow me to be at home with him and future children. I had a BA in Literature and Writing, but beyond writing online dating profiles as a fun side project for perfectly lovely people who happened to be terrible at writing their own profiles, I wasn’t using that degree for work.

During a wedding setup, one day at the San Diego Botanic Gardens, I met two women–who at the time were just meeting each other the same day–and though I didn’t know it at the time, that completely random meeting among the three of us would change our lives and career paths. They were Ashley Noack and Jillian Ziska, two incredible forces who became instant friends and went on to found Coastyle Events. About eight weeks after my newborn had arrived, they asked to meet with me. They needed a florist to cover nearly all of their events that year, and would I be up to the task? Their schedule was far beyond what I felt I was truly capable of doing, but that wedding we had all worked on ended up beautifully featured on Style Me Pretty. Anyone who has ever been featured online–especially as a newcomer–knows what a gift that exposure is, and how difficult it is to turn down this kind of offer. I couldn’t refuse.

And from there, things took off for the three of us. That feature changed our lives and essentially launched our businesses, gave us an amazing start to countless events when we were all just babies who only had dreams and goals to get us through all those tough learning moments to come. Ashley is still one of the finest wedding planners I know, and Jillian went on to form her own company, TBD San Diego, from whom we are able to rent the prettiest things for the best of days.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it has not. It took years to get where I am today and turning a hobby into a business for which you leave your decade-plus career when you just had your first baby is no joke. I fondly recall that choice as both the smartest and most stupid decision I ever made. I didn’t just have to learn about this business and learn the HOW, I also had to learn all about my little boy and what it means to be a mother, which was my greatest priority.

But as any working mother will tell you, there is a constant struggle; you struggle for sleep, struggle to make deadlines, struggle to find good childcare for meetings you have to attend, struggle to nurture not only work and your child but also your relationship, and struggle to be present when so many things and people need your attention. But you do it because this is the job, this is the life, this is the child and marriage, and you have to see it all as an incredible gift of abundance rather than the hardest thing you’ve done so far.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We offer full spectrum floral design, from the smallest details to large-scale installations.

We have a wedding-heavy calendar, but we also work with corporate events and editorial shoots. If there’s something we haven’t done before, our first instinct isn’t “that’s way too much work” and “your vision doesn’t make sense.” It’s “how many staple guns do you think we’ll need?” and “Okay so it’s wild but life is wild, we’re on board.”

As of June 2018, we are officially a no-floral-foam company. We don’t use it at all, instead relying on materials like chicken wire frames, water tubes or reusable boxwood backgrounds, depending on what we are making. As a single-use plastic, floral foam is made with some pretty nasty ingredients (formaldehyde is one of them, as is carbon black) that are not only carcinogenic but also terrible for the environment. We also donate or re-purpose as many of our post-event florals as possible.

I think what I’m most proud of is that we treat every event like it’s being put on for us, and we do not do or sell to anyone what we would not do or sell to ourselves. This is our beautiful and heartfelt wedding, our corporate event bringing teams together, our workshop that turns what seems a difficult DIY project into a must-have life skill. We sincerely care about the people we work with, and we know what a privilege it is to be trusted, sometimes by clients halfway around the world and sometimes by nervous brides in our very neighborhood.

We know we work a bit differently: we don’t use foam, we don’t do mock-up designs, and you have to take us on faith. Taking that leap is hard, but we are with you every step of the way to make your day incredible, no matter what that entails.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Years ago, when I booked my first event that wasn’t from a word of mouth referral. It meant someone found me independently of friends or family and felt I would be the best vendor for their needs. Any business owner knows that yes, while you can choose with whom you work as a client, it’s really the client who chooses you. And to have that trust is the best feeling.

Contact Info:

Image Credit: 
Paige Nelson Photo, Cate Batchelor Photography, Brooke Ziegler Photography, Lillywhite Photography, Jes Workman Photography

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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