“Flowers are a way to celebrate, a way to tie people together. They’re such a unifying thing,” Bridget Connell, part of the dynamic duo behind Haute House Studio, says. She and business partner, Marsha Hunt are sitting in their office in front of a display of centerpieces.
The business encompasses wedding and event flowers and planning, day-of coordination, corporate and private events and designs as well as creative classes. Connell, an event planner, and Hunt, a florist, started their business in 2010.
“Haute Flower Boutique is absorbed by our new parent company, Haute House Studio,” Connell says. “Nothing has changed except for we’re just now embracing the expansion of our business.”
Keeping Local Roots While Growing Community
The business is literally expanding with this month’s opening of a 2,200 square-foot business office building on Lincoln Drive in Edina. This was formerly a home-based business with a studio housed at Hunt’s residence. Hunt says they could have moved long ago, but have been looking for warehouse space in Edina for years.
“We felt so strongly about staying in Edina,” Hunt says. “I don’t know of anywhere else where there is a stronger community of women that are empowered, are entrepreneurial, are creative and support the women-owned businesses and the women entrepreneurs who are in town.”
The Haute House Studios team, from left: Sonia Prickett, Melissa Levy, Marsha Hunt, Bridget Connell, Betsy Mulvehill, Marit Hunt
The new venue will allow them to hold classes and events, two key pillars of their new community-building platform.
“Making and being creative is such a simple and universal way to have togetherness. We want to create a community for creativity,” Connell says. “We want to create sisterhood and partnerships and fun through making, creating and doing.”
Classes are holiday-themed. There are also flower-arranging classes and even private flower arranging parties that people can book.
But Hunt says what they are most proud of is their unique blend of creative experiences: pairing classes in collaboration with local makers and artists.
“One of the pairings we’ve done is wine and floral. What we believe is that flowers, like food, like wine, are a sensory experience,” Hunt says. “And the same way that wine and food can complement each other in terms of colors, flavors, aroma, visual, the same with florals.”
They are also planning events with calligraphers, cookie designers and perfume makers to name just a few.
Event Planning Nurtures Local Talent
Classes aside, a blooming part of Haute House Studio is its expanding event planning services.
“We can do everything from the initial plan, to the follow through, to the ordering of rentals and the fresh florals,” says Connell. In addition to weddings and corporate events, they’ve seen a rise in private parties.
“People want unique parties that are in their homes,” Connell says. “They want elements that are creative and thoughtful. We’re not a cookie-cutter planning business. We are a custom event-planning business where we can create unique things for you and incorporate values and messages that you want heard in pretty ways that guests will enjoy.”
The growing event planning side of the business has led to growth in staffing. Sonia Prickett joined the creative division last August. She specializes in floral design.
“We are a happy family,” Prickett says. The Edina mom is no stranger to flowers and events. She used to plan private parties for the now-closed Heyday restaurant, owned by her husband. “... They’ll try to understand the person and put out the best product they can versus going to a catalog and picking out a photo and recreating. It’s a custom studio.”
Prickett is joined by Edina moms Betsy Mulvehill and Melissa Levy. Mulvehill is an event and wedding planner. Levy is an office manager and strategist.
“They all have different skill sets that really complement where we needed more support in our business,” Connell says. “They fell into place like a perfect puzzle.”
Tips for Spring
Hunt and Connell are excited for the spring season, and say the Pantone color of the year, Living Coral, will drive trends.
“We are going to see a lot of that coral mixed with and anchored with turquoise and blues,” she says. “Coral is a classic color. There’s a way to introduce it in other seasons, but spring is really where coral shines.”
Hunt says, “Colors from nature are bigger than ever. Living Coral paired with emerald is going to be strong, as well as some of the raspberry tones and the chartreuse greens—the ones that are in nature but with just a little bit more zing. The darker version of the coral, so almost poppy, we are going to see a lot of that one, too.”
Hunt says she was inspired by a recent trip to Europe.
“That’s where we tend to see trends starting from before they catch on here. I picked up a lot of vintage botanical prints ... The same true colors from nature that they reproduced so well in those old botanical prints–that’s what’s modern today,” Hunt says.
She adds that colors are turning away from brown, dull undertones and leaning toward bold, crisp hues.
“We are seeing more emphasis on the brighter, clearer versions of colors,” Hunt explains. “They’re more luminous and transparent in their shades. They’re not as deep and dark and woodsy.”
In addition to bold color, Connell explains texture is key.
“Sustainable florals are the way the world is going,” Connell says. “There’s a lot of ways you can incorporate things from our gardens here in Minnesota. Rosemary and things that are edible, fragrant, have an aroma and visually awesome color and shapes and texture.”
Hunt adds, “We’re still seeing the beautiful garden style with lots of greenery and textures, but it’s a little more curated ... I call it polished, but relaxed.”
Connell adds, “Because they’re becoming more polished, we’re seeing elements that are a little bit more natural. There’s a juxtaposition of pairing between stones and bark, and sticks and twigs and creating interest in some of the things that you pair with these really refined and beautiful classic flowers.”
For pots, Hunt says while people love metallics, she is seeing more emphasis on stoneware and earthenware with natural finishes such as cement and stone, but the finish is clean and matte, not rustic or shiny.
The Haute House owners would eventually like to have their own greenhouse. In the meantime, they use the acre of land around Hunt’s home.
“We source a lot of foliage for the spring, summer and fall from our own gardens, even some of the blooms,” Hunt says.
Many are sourced locally and sometimes planted with purpose.
“We have a lot of things we plant specifically for certain brides,” Connell says. “If we have brides we know who are going to focus on hops, dill, we will buy those plants, harvest them, grow them.”
Hunt smiles. “Within the confines of Minnesota hearty, we are able to do so much.”
She remembers a bride last summer who had just lost her grandmother who was the matriarch of the family. It was a Jewish wedding, and Hunt was making a chuppah, the traditional canopy a couple stand under during the wedding.
“I knew the grandmother’s favorite flower was peony,” Hunt says. ”I have a hedge of bridal wreath spirea and it blooms for less than a week one time a year. It was in full bloom for the week of her wedding as were our white peonies. Not only could I create this amazing chuppah using the bridal wreath spirea for her, we could also incorporate peonies as a special tribute to her grandmother.” Hunt looks over at Connell. A look of gratitude and understanding pass between them as they both remember the moment the bride and her family saw the chuppah. “The moment they walk in, that wow-worthy moment when literally tears of joy are not unheard of—we live for that moment.”
Special thanks to Desiree Graybill of Make Me Blush Artistry as well as Greta Olson Anderson for their makeup styling expertise at this fun photo shoot. Also Rudy's Rentals for providing several props for this on location photo shoot.