Floral design is not just selecting colorful blooms and randomly arranging them in a pretty vase, at least not for Kara Pyle, lead designer at Stem Floral Design. In today’s world of Pinterest where brides and interior decorators have boards and boards of wishes and ideas saved from all directions, Pyle endeavors to create something specific for her customer, not just following trends, but making sure it’s unique to the individual.
“Floral design is art,” she says, “but it’s also important to learn about a person’s story and what their event is about. It gives me the opportunity to group common elements that are unique for them.”
Business: Stem Floral Design; 1798 S.E. Columbia River Drive, Vancouver. 360-524-5941, www.stem-floraldesign.com
Residence: Columbia Way neighborhood.
Educational/professional background: I grew up in San Antonio and attended Texas A&M, where I earned my bachelor of arts in horticulture with a minor in business. In high school, I assisted a local event planner and floral designer on weekends, and also worked in a small boutique. My love for design really came out in these two jobs. During college, I worked as a designer at a local florist. When I moved to Vancouver, I began working for We Plan It as an in-house designer until Stem opened in February 2017. For the past year, I have been the lead designer at Stem.
How — and when — you got started: My mom is an avid gardener, so I think that Saturdays in the yard with my parents were where I developed my appreciation for flowers and plants. After working in high school for an event planner and designer, I knew that was what I wanted to pursue. Since then I have worked in various positions to work toward where I am today. When Wendy Sturm, owner of We Plan It, saw an opportunity to open a floral business last February, she gave me the opportunity to run with it. Without her vision and success in her event planning and design company I would not be running a new floral company. I am so grateful for the trust that she has put in me to be a leader at Stem Floral Design.
Personal/business philosophy: Flowers play a huge role in people’s lives. Whether it is celebrating some of their biggest moments in life or grieving some of the hardest moments in life, flowers play a part. We deliver part of a story. We bring passion and personalized service in our approach to design. We want to bring out a unique personality and vision while sourcing the highest quality flowers and materials. Our goal is to create memorable and meaningful floral designs, from the smallest arrangements to the largest event.
Most rewarding part of job: The reaction on people’s faces when they receive flowers. Whether it be a bride on her wedding day or a “just because” arrangement delivered to an office. Knowing that we we’re able to bring joy and help to create a memory is so rewarding.
Most challenging part of job: Giving people everything they have dreamed of within their budget. I wish that I could do everything everyone wanted for their wedding without breaking the bank. … if only I could control the price of the beautiful blooms.
Something surprising about your work: From the outside looking in, I think that the view of a floral designer looks like all beauty and fun. In reality, it is hard work. There is a lot more lifting and cleaning than you may expect. Five-gallon buckets filled with water and flowers have really toned my arms! My right-hand gal, Galina, and I spend hours on our feet and end the day with dirty fingernails and the occasional thorn in our hands.
Favorite flower: It changes — two current favorites are ranunculus and anemones.
Best feature of your Clark County community: The encouragement and compliments that we have received. As a Texas transplant, I am so thankful to have become a part of a community that is supportive.
What would make your community a better place: I am really excited about the waterfront development. I think that it is going to bring a ton of new flavor and ramp up the downtown area which is already growing!
What is your favorite travel destination and type: I love traveling. I have backpacked across Europe and would love to backpack to a million other places. Traveling by train is an amazing way to see a country, and a really cool way to experience the culture. Beaches, mountains, cities … I love them all.
Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: I love a latte and pastry from Thatcher’s followed by a little bit of shopping at Willows.
Hobbies: Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I love to spend my free weekends up on the mountain skiing. There are always new places to explore in Portland (taste-testing coffee and food never gets old).
Most enjoyable book/movie/arts event in past 12 months: Ooh, I love concerts. The Bleachers was a pretty fun concert.
Best way to spend a spare 10 minutes: I love calling friends or family. Living across the country has given me a greater appreciation for phone calls.
Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Continue to travel and grow relationships with other local vendors in the event industry.
One word to describe yourself: Genuine.
Person you’d most like to meet: Blake Lively.
Valentine’s Day advice: It’s the thought that counts. Whatever it is will be meaningful.