Throughout the year, we’ll be highlighting notable women in our community. We want to spotlight those who are shaping where we live and giving back to our neighborhood. Do you know someone you think we should feature? Let us know in the comments!
While affections tend to bloom during the month of February, we have another bloom in mind—flowers. A bouquet of flowers can be used to express so many emotions, from love and appreciation, to sympathy and a reminder of hope. Flowers and plants are also the go-to for livening up a space, and giving a room a whole new feel without a full redesign. Our Notable Woman for February is Karisa Pennell, owner of Nectar Floral Designs. We sat down with her to discuss all things floral design, owning a small business, and her tips for Valentine’s Day florals.
Q: How did you get into Floral Design?
I was looking for a part-time job to supplement my income and thought working at a flower shop sounded fun. I drove around Charlotte to different shops, but only applied at Elizabeth House. I worked there for 9 months or so and learned a lot from the designers there. Once my friends found out I could design, I started getting requests for birthdays and small parties, and I landed a restaurant as a client. I did this on the side for the next four years until I realized my clientele had grown, and I should probably make a legit company out of it.
Q: Tell us the story behind the McGill Rose Garden—how did you come to set up shop there?
In 2007, I created the company and delivered 10 small arrangements with business cards attached to small businesses throughout Plaza Midwood. One of those deliveries went to what used to be Georgetown Spa and Garrett Ladue worked there. He had just opened the McGill Garden Shop and called me to see if I would be interested in having fresh flowers there. It seemed like an obvious fit and so I rented counter space from him and was there for a few hours a week.
Q: How has Nectar grown and evolved since 2007?
It’s been such an organic growth (no pun intended) and has grown beyond my wildest imagination! I went from renting a countertop to renting a small room in the building at McGill. Then in 2010, I had the opportunity to take over the rent on the building. I remember thinking, “I’m going to have to quit my other job because I just don’t have time to be anywhere else.” By this time, the McGill Rose Garden board of directors had asked me if I’d be interested in overseeing event management for the garden. The wedding industry is a booming industry in Charlotte, and McGill could fill a niche that no other venue in Charlotte could offer. So I created wedding packages and we’ve been booked solid every year since. This led to branching our company off into a couple of companies. So now we have Nectar, Inc. (the flower shop) and Nectar Events (our event management company). My husband has been a huge part in the restructuring of the company and in overseeing business operations.
Our flower business was growing exponentially, too, so we started looking for the perfect space to move to. We finally found our new home here on Pecan in 2018, and are loving being immersed in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood.
And recently in September of 2019 we were able to open Rosie’s Wine Garden at our old space at McGill. Even though the three companies are separate, our staff crosses over a lot. I have a Nectar floral designer that bartends one night a week, a Nectar Events coordinator who bartends, we provide flowers for any of Rosie’s parties, and some of the Nectar Events staff helps at the flower shop when we need extra hands. We have about 17 people on staff between all three companies.
Q: What services do you offer through Nectar Floral Designs?
Nectar is full service, so we offer daily deliveries, corporate events, weddings, and everything in between. We work pretty closely with some of the top interior designers in the city and often help with photo shoot staging and the advertising of their services. During the holidays, we do custom designs for individual’s homes. Our flower shop is unique in that we try to keep a clean aesthetic. So when you visit, you won’t see any small giftwares, balloons, teddy bears, etc., but you will see a lot of plants and container options. We do not participate in any wire services, so all of our designs are created on the spot for each order.
Q: Valentine’s Day is coming up; are roses still the top choice? What are your favorite alternatives?
We actually do not do very many rose orders for Valentine’s Day or any other time throughout the year. When someone calls and requests this, we usually try to recommend more relevant designs to them. Why offer the same designs you’ve seen since the 80’s when we can offer unique, interesting combinations of flowers that are so much more visually impactful? That being said, we do love roses but we use them sparingly and as part of the whole. And we try to stock rose varietals you’ve never heard of before—like the “Heart” rose that has a very high petal count and is longer lasting than a standard rose. Anyway, Valentine’s day is probably the worst time of the year to order roses. They’re overcropped, more expensive, and not always the best quality as throughout the year.
Every year, we offer a Feature arrangement and it’s always a very special design. This year, we’ve called it “Love Letter” and we’re offering it at four different sizes and price points. Coincidentally, one of the highlights of this year’s feature is one of my all-time favorites, the Vanda orchid.
Q: If I want an arrangement for Valentine’s Day, when should I place an order?
Now! We’ve already gotten a lot of orders in, but if you can place an order by February 4th, any special requests can more than likely be accommodated. We have an online order form just for Valentine’s Day.
Q: What’s your process for creating an arrangement?
We try to steer our clients toward color palettes which gives us much more creative liberty as designers. So we start there. Our growers are really in control of our designs. We work with local and close farms to offer seasonal items, and then source globally for specialty items. So a lot of it is what is in inventory that fits the color palette. Then we choose the best container to showcase those blooms and budget. Our design aesthetic is loose, organic, and natural. So our arrangements are going to have a natural shape to them so you can see each flower complementing the other flowers.
Q: What is your favorite trend with flowers or plants right now?
The neutral trend has been hot since early fall of 2019 and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. Our growers and suppliers are still experimenting and coming up with new bleached items to offer. So white on cream with tan accents is very popular right now. And I am loving it! So anything bleached, dried, preserved, and dyed in earthy tones is what I’m really loving right now.
Q: How can our readers get in touch?
Our website is the best place to start. We have a lot of easy ways to connect there. If you need us for a wedding, there’s a form. If you are a corporate planner, there’s a form. Daily deliveries have their own form. But the best (and I think the most awesome way) is to just call us! Our staff are some of the friendliest in town. We all love our job, and we all love flowers. And we love talking through design options and honestly just want you to have the best experience you can possibly have ordering, gifting, and receiving flowers.
Get in touch with the Nectar team at 704.905.9808 or nectarfloraldesigns.com.
Featured photos by Christina Hussey Photography.