Alternative Blooms

Art by Erika Altosaar, print from Hudson's Bay Company book, flowers by Alternative Blooms, desk from West Elm

Art by Erika Altosaar, print from Hudson's Bay Company book, flowers by Alternative Blooms, desk from West Elm

Awhile back we were sourcing floral arrangements for the closing celebrations of the AGH World Film Festival and Cinema Hamilton Awards. We were looking for something really special. The theme was old Hollywood and we had hoped to find arrangements that had both a glamorous and vintage look. We started our search on Etsy, and voila! We quickly discovered and fell head over heels for the creations of local florists Alternative Blooms. Artisans of vintage handmade fabric and paper flowers, brooch blooms, home decor and accessories, Alternative Blooms is the twin sister collaboration of Amy and Melissa Cooper. We love the idea of paper and fabric flowers for weddings and events. They are a beautiful keepsake and reminder of a special event that you can treasure for a long time after.

After describing the night's theme and some ideas we had, the girls went off designing with inspirations from the 1920's - 50's using vintage milk glass vessels, french netting and feather accents among their fabric blooms and paper flowers. Tones of sepia, cream, ivory and white were combined to provide depth and aged character in each arrangement. We were so honoured Amy and Melissa created custom designs for the Cinema Hamilton Awards. As it turns out, they are supporters of independent film themselves. "Our brother Brandon has been experimenting in film since he was young," says Melissa, "After attending Humber Colleges' film program, he went on to produce many great bodies of work and now enjoys a career at Toronto's Dazmo Digital."

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Q&A

What and where did you study?
We both schooled in our professions at Sheridan College Oakville. Mel further schooled at Humber College then under Master Florist Diny Bloem & Hanny Geurts Of Gouda, Netherlands (yes, Gouda like the cheese!) Mel studied Art & design along with retail floristry and I studied office administration. Mel continues to expand her design knowledge, most recently working with Per Benjamin of Stockholm Sweden. 

What did you do before Alternative Blooms? How did it come about?
Frankly Alternative Blooms was all Mel's idea. Mel had a successful business creating wedding and event fresh florals here in Hamilton but was headhunted by a local company to revive it's designs, inventory and direction. Once this was done, Mel was on to her next project. Instead of diving back into fresh florals full time she wanted to extend her wedding designs to the rest of the world thus creating Alternative Blooms. Designing needs organization and that is where I come in. I am currently on maternity leave so I have been able to create processes and systems to keep the business part of Alternative blooms flowing smoothly.

What is your creative process like?
Our process is the same as that of a fresh flower artist. We are in constant contact with our clients, taking direction from their wishes and dreams. We are frequently on Pinterest checking out the wedding boards created by our clients to gather the full picture of their theme. We provide a floral plan, customizing bouquets and wedding party flowers to meet a client's requirements and budget. We do have stock to draw from if an order needs to be rushed out.

One of our first orders was a rush to New York City, it needed to be in the husbands hands the following day for his first year anniversary. We created a replica of his wife's wedding bouquet for him. This gentleman wanted to make sure his wife would wake up to her paper flower bouquet on his pillow in the morning so that he could sneak out and make her breakfast.!! What a sweetheart! The first wedding anniversary is paper :)

How has the response been in Hamilton?
Alternative Blooms is new to Hamilton, we have yet to display at a Bridal show and it takes time for perspective clients to think outside the box. New things need to be seen many times over before people are comfortable with the decision to buy. Brides often want to see other people taking that risk first, once they see Alternative Blooms on a wedding blog or in a magazine they are more comfortable to make a purchase . Etsy is our international home and we have been well received by the Brides of America and Australia. Just this past week we did ship out to our first Canadian Bride, she is a sweet heart from B.C.

Where do you source the fabrics and paper you use?
Our fabrics come from either the brides themselves - vintage items such as wedding dresses or heirloom fabrics from their own family - or we up cycle finds from local thrift stores. Our papers and paper items come from local suppliers. We do a heavy amount of custom colouring and our dyes are sourced locally as well.

What is your working relationship like?
Mel is the creative designer and I am the one who keeps her on task. We have a fantastic working relationship. After years of sharing the same room, friends and clothes we have learned to live with and live around, each other. We both are well aware of our strengths, weakness and God given talents. Neither of us are confrontational, we easily concede to the given expert when questions arise. We grew up in a house with 4 kids - we have twin brothers who are two years older then we are! In order to survive you had to be able to get along :)

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