Though she had a solid government job, Natalia Solis-Vermette was restless. For years, she had dreamed of becoming an event planner. “Alas, I continued on with my desk job,” says Natalia, “surrounded by grey walls each day, all the while wishing I had the courage to start my own events company.”
Six years later, Natalia’s boyfriend – “the love of my life” – proposed to her. “That was kind of when everything changed and I threw myself into our wedding plans.”
Natalia was still in a cubicle, working for another branch of government, but “daydreaming at my desk completely lost in the endless possibilities of creating our perfect wedding day. For me it wasn’t so much about making everything flashy and fabulous, it was more about telling a story about us from the moment the guests arrived to the last sip of champagne – or in our case, shot of tequila.”
The wedding went beautifully and Natalia’s event planning dream became more specific: she wanted to be a floral designer. In the course of planning her own wedding, Natalia met “an incredible florist,” Teri McGeachie. McGeachie became and remains a friend and mentor to Natalia. When she saw that Natalia was serious about entering the business, McGeachie gave her a book by renowned British florist, Paula Pryke.
“She had two copies,” says Natalia,”one she had gifted to her late mother while in the hospital, and one was her copy. After her mother’s passing, she kept both books and had been looking for someone to pass along the second one to. Well, she chose me. Ever since that day I have really just felt like this was my calling.”
When it came to naming her business, Natalia looked to two other wise women: her Grandmas Ingrid and Rosario. “One, a classic beauty with impeccable taste and the other, a woman with incredible spirit who was known to sneak out her window in her younger days to go compete in salsa dancing competitions. Together they are the perfect blend of classic with a twist, the same way I approach floral and event design. From them, Ingrid Rose Floral Artistry was born.” Natalia opened her doors in November of 2015.
The Victoria-based Ingrid Rose Floral Artistry specializes in event florals and styling. The first professional wedding Natalia did was for a close friend, one who had encouraged her long ago to pursue event design. “I was grateful she took a chance on me.” Early into her business, Natalia was approached by a bride-to-be who came to Ingrid Rose with a wedding two weeks away and no flower plans. The two of them clicked instantly and they pulled off a beautiful event.
Another highlight project was a recent collaboration with Monterosso Flower Imports. “She asked me in one word to describe what I pictured for colour. I said ‘Santorini.’ And Santorini I got. Stunning pinks, soft blushes, whites and vibrant cobalt blues. It was perfect, and I was so proud of her for being able to take my somewhat jumbled idea and turn it into what I think is some of my best work yet.” Their work was captured beautifully, as it is here, by Tasha Cline Photography.
Ingrid Rose also does florals for less elaborate occasions: engagements, birthdays, retirements. One recent retirement bouquet featured yellow roses and white gladiolus, the same floral combination that the recipient had carried for her wedding, forty five years prior. “I am a sucker for symbolic gestures like that.”
Natalia is pleased to hear so many clients requesting local flowers. “Not only does this reduce our carbon footprint – as imports can come from as far away as Italy and Holland – but there is simply nothing like adding a flower to a bouquet or arrangement that was just cut that morning.” Natalia gets her dahlias and sweet peas from master gardeners who live down the street.
What are some of the greatest challenges Natalia faces in running her own floral design business?
“Having the courage to present my work to someone. I will arrive on the day of a wedding with a bride’s bouquet in tow and all I do is watch her face for her reaction. It is my favourite part, but it can also be the most nerve racking! You are literally presenting someone with something you have created especially for them. You pray it’s everything they hoped for. ”
There is also the entrepreneurial time and energy required. Thankfully, Natalia has a strongly supportive husband – and two pugs! – who will help her with 4 am deliveries and find the energy to mumble “that looks beautiful” when Natalia bursts into the bedroom at 2 am to show him her latest bouquet creation. “He will come home after having worked a 12 hour day, ready to kick back and relax, and I am in full work mode with buckets of flowers all over our kitchen and stems littering the floor.”
Natalia looks forward to continuing with her current line of projects and, in the future, traveling between Victoria and Mexico for destination weddings. “I have really strong ties to Mexico, having been born there with my Dad’s entire family living in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Being able to collaborate with the incredible creative talent there would be a dream come true.”
Written by Elizabeth Newton
** Photography by Tasha Cline Photography.