Alexandra Thune is the six year Ditmas Park resident and Park Slope native behind occasion planning and styling company Ollie & the Egg throw a party. Recently, she’s expanded her charming aesthetic to Honeysuckle Hill, a flower subscription service that, surprise surprise, also does floral design for events. We asked Alex tell us a bit about the inspiration behind her new venture, and how she spends her time around the neighborhood.
What first got you interested in flowers and floral design? How did you get your start?
I’ve loved flowers since I was little. In my previous career I was a window designer at Barneys, and in 2007, a co-worker asked if I would design the flowers for his wedding. I started doing research online, and looking at magazines like Martha Stewart Weddings, and was so inspired. I saw these beautiful flower arrangements, and on the one hand, I was in awe; but on the other hand, I knew I could do similar work.
I started Honeysuckle Hill because after doing a few high-end parties, when calculating the cost per bouquet, I realized that you didn’t need to be wealthy to have access to beautiful floral arrangements. Flowers should be accessible to everyone–you don’t need a ton of money or a special reason like a party to have beautiful floral arrangements in your home.
What effects have you found flowers have on a room, or on someone’s day?
I think flowers bring us peace and an emotional connection to nature that is essential for our mental well-being. You don’t need a lot of flowers to have a big impact in your home–a few well chosen blooms do wonders! I live in an apartment with no outdoor access, but having flowers in my home calms me and always puts a smile on my face.
Why is it important, for you and for customers, to get flowers locally? How do you decide what to get at the market?
When you buy flowers at a deli or similar place, you don’t know where they’re coming from or how fresh they are. When I buy at the market, I know the flowers are coming directly from the growers. I’m able to pick and choose the freshest, most beautiful blooms. I buy flowers that are, in addition to being fresh and beautiful, interesting and long-lasting. I search for flowers that work well together in bouquets. It’s always fun to look at what I’ve picked and imagine what the final bouquet will look like.
What events have you done so far? You probably get to see some poignant ceremonies, or at least the lead-up to them.
I started doing flowers for my friends’ and family’s weddings, and I’ve been able to play a part in many wonderful occasions. My brother-in-law got married in 2011 and his was one of the first legal gay marriages in New York state. He and his husband got married under a canopy of flowers I created for them–it was definitely a special moment.
Since then, I’ve begun my own event planning business, Ollie & the Egg throw a party, and I’ve been able to work on some beautiful weddings, baby showers, and birthday parties.
What’s your typical day like, between visiting the market, dealing with orders, arranging, and delivery? Do you have anyone else on staff?
Right now, it’s just me doing everything. I usually leave the house a little before 6am. Then it’s the best part of the day–shopping the market. After I’ve picked out all my flowers, I head back to Ditmas Park and put together that day’s deliveries.
That usually takes a while, because although all the bouquets that day will have the same ingredients, none of them will look exactly the same. It’s all about creating the perfect balance within each bouquet and listening to the flowers, not trying to force them to bend or move in a way that’s not natural for them. Once the bouquets are perfect, I snap a few pictures and send them out to their forever homes!
What do you do when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, I’m usually hanging out with my almost three-year-old son at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park, or Tot Lot. We also spend time watching the trains go by in Newkirk Plaza. A lot of time. I like reading or spending time with my husband. I also work on my Etsy shop creating custom party decorations.
How has your business been received in Ditmas Park?
It’s been great so far. I’m just getting started, and it’s nice to feel like my friends and neighbors are really rooting for me!