How Haleigh Kenney arranged to open XO Floral Design. It’s the emotions evoked that make the long hours, the odd hours, worth it — showing the bride her bouquet, delivering a baby shower vase, offering a celebration of life arrangement.
“Little sparks of joy; they’re a message of love without having to say anything,” explained Haleigh Kenney, principal designer and owner of XO Floral Design in Oklahoma City.
Kenney, a native Oklahoman with a cosmetology license and a degree in public relations, wandered into the floral industry quite literally. She was working part-time at a family friend’s downtown claims office (by way of a previous sales job, which was by way of a previous cosmetology job) where the front was rented out to a florist.
“On my lunch break, I walked through and smelled all of the flowers and felt drawn to the creativity,” said Kenney.
Inarguably, it is scary to leave the security of an 8-to-5 with a steady base income and paid time off for a less guaranteed career, but it turns out Kenney’s transition to botanical artistry wasn’t that intimidating.
“I got my floral experience with them. I was still working my other job, but for two years — on the weekends, whenever they needed help — I’d work the events,” said Kenney, exemplifying how sometimes the best education is hands-on experience.
Fueled by inspiration from her grandmother’s lifelong garden and the florists who came before her, Kenney began supplementing her on-the-job training with specialized workshops from leaders in the industry.
“I found this girl who was both a wedding planner and a florist, and I thought, ‘I’m gonna break into that.’ And so I went to [her workshop in] Michigan,” she explained. “It was the very best thing I did for my business.”
One might think that this is simply the business of blooms, but it’s so much more than that. It’s one of reflecting someone’s vision, valuing uniqueness and making people feel special through exquisite arrangements. It’s those little sparks of joy that keep Kenney and XO Floral Design flourishing.
ADVICE FOR BUDDING DESIGNERS
XO Floral Design owner Haleigh Kenney recommends starting with the basics — learn about the flowers and proper care — and going to work for a florist. “That’s where you’ll really get a taste for it,” she said.
Other flower-arranging snippets:
- Buy flowers in the shortest possible window of time prior to your event, preferably on the day before.
- Roll chicken wire into a ball and place it at the bottom of your vase to keep arranged stems in place.
- Cut your stems at an angle to allow them to absorb the water better, and give them a fresh cut every few days.
- Once in the vase, remove any greenery or anything on the stem that is below your water line. Leaves will steal the nutrients, so removing them will prolong the life of your arrangement.
- Change the water every few days so flowers can continue soaking up the nutrients.
- Keep your flowers away from a vent source, as well as any spaces of extreme cold or heat.