Hi, I'm Rachel, creator, curator, designer and founder of By the Bunch floral alchemy. As we lean into the changes thrust upon us by Covid 19, we will be keeping our tiny retail space closed except for pickups and operating on more of a studio model as I continue to design for small events and daily deliveries. I realize many of you who have only done business with By the Bunch via our website may not realize how small of an operation this really is. Essentially a one woman show with the exception of occasional delivery services and helpers or interns, often only for holidays or large events( which obviously are not happening right now). If you ring the shop you will almost always be talking to me (or voicemail) and it's very likely I will be the only one handling every aspect of your order whether it's placed online or on the phone. I will be the one taking in the information, sourcing the materials and executing the design. Right now I may even be the one delivering them, although that is the first thing I like to delegate.
If you are familiar with the physical shop space you will understand not being able to figure out a way to make it both accessible and safe right now. But, you will also know what a unique and magical space it can be and that not being able to come in and look at what's in season, what I'm creating with it and the other inspirational oddities that I've collected to fill almost every available nook in here is a sad thing to not be able to share. While I can't deny that this shy introvert has delighted a bit in coming in late in the afternoon, locking the door behind me and being able to focus on filling orders until the wee hours without interruption; I do feel like it makes it harder than ever for folks to figure out what I'm doing in here and how I go about it. I figured sharing here and in other ways online would be a good place to start. Thought it would be a good time to introduce myself and share a little bit about how I do things (also maybe clear up the bouncing between "I" and "we" that tends to happen when I talk about the shop). As mentioned above, day to day operations are mostly me; generally only accompanied by the flowers, plants and my very vocal, yet adorable,shop cat Chewy. Aided by a few helpers, interns, volunteers and family we are doing our best to ride out these strange times and keep bringing beauty and joy just like we always have. Even though it's usually just me in here I joke about the "we" being me and the flowers. I also have no delusions about how much I have been helped , and hopefully, will continue to be, by countless others on this journey. This includes the amazing local growers and makers I work with and those local companies that are helping me with marketing, graphic design, technology and administrative tasks that are beyond my capabilities. It takes a village!
It used to be that if you were curious about the shop you could stop in during shop hours, chat about what's in season, and see what I might be working on but that's no longer the case. While you can still call in, my hours in the studio are more variable so leaving a message is crucial. I check messages and return calls whenever I am in and I so appreciate your patience! I will be trying to share more of my process online both here on the website and on social medias (@bythebunchpdx on facebook and instagram). My hands are so often wet, dirty, and/or full of flowers, foliages and plants I'm not the best at capturing the minutea of everything it takes to create my custom creations that are usually incredibly detailed and intricate. If there are particular things you are curious about please ask questions, I'd love to hear from you!
As we are all spending more time online it's very easy to slip into our own frame of reference and not realize that things that may seem ordinary, even boring in our own experience may be completely outside of someone else's range of experience. It's easy for me to forget that most people aren't scanning the side of the road for wildflowers and the railroad tracks for sweet peas as they head in to work. They aren't paying attention to unusual seed pods, scanning the ground for interesting leaves, feathers, or pebbles. They aren't climbing off their paddle boards to harvest pussywillows and helenium on the riverbanks. Any of these might be in a days work for me. I am so grateful to all of my customers who, over the years, have made it possible to turn this practice into an actual job. I would certainly be doing all these things anyways, but how lucky am I to have found supporters of this unlikely work!
As I adjust to working as a private studio vs. being open for retail there are, as with everything, pros and cons. The upside to not stocking, maintaining and operating with retail stock and individual stems for sale means I am able to focus on curating the very best available cuts for each particular order as they come in. While we've never been the type of shop to have premade arrangements waiting in a cooler to be purchased, now, more than ever, it's likely the flowers used to create your arrangement were selected, harvested or foraged with your order in mind. This is why a bit of lead time is helpful in filling your order. It doesn't mean we can't pull off impressive things at the last minute; I am, myself a huge procrastinator, so I get it, but, the more time I have to prepare an order the more thoughtful and intentional it can be. This is also why I ask you to share a bit about the person or occasion they are for. While knowing a favorite color or flower can, of course, be helpful, it can also be helpful to know things like 'they love the beach, dance the tango or are actually a magical forest sprite' I love it when I get orders like this that paint me a picture of who they are for, it's inspiring to have a little window into what they mean to you. That's when I can really work my magic to translate those sentiments into flowers. I try to communicate all the things that words never seem able to say
Everyone is always stumped by what to write on the card, that's because when we send flowers it's because we are trying to say something that words can't.
"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way- things I had no words for."
Sending flowers is a gesture above and beyond words. I'm honored when people trust me with communicating that translation. I hope this has given a bit of insight into how we are doing things during these days lacking real life connection. If you are curious to know more, get in touch, I'm an open book and despite my social awkwardness, I love to hear from others who are finding flowers to be a resonate way to connect with each other through the celebrations and tribulations that we all navigate in life.