“Not your average floral designer” is the Instagram tagline for Iris Blossom CLT, and with just a quick scroll through the feed, you’ll find that’s true.
One of Iris Blossom’s arrangements was created in honor of Gay Pride and features a rainbow of flowers that range, from left to right, from red (anemone and Brenda protea) to orange (African marigold) to yellow (sunflower) to green (allium seed) to blue (hybrid delphinium), purple (Lisianthus) and violet (celosia crest).
The rainbow bouquet was an anniversary gift. A (repeat) client ordered flowers for her significant other to honor the anniversary of their first date. “Repeat clients are a big deal to us,” said Rob Gooljar, who co-founded Iris Blossom last July. “We’re about building relationships. We remember every client we’ve served over the last year – which is a lot.
Another arrangement, filled with flowers the color of Starburst candy, contains the showy king protea, anemone, the humble carnation, mums, Billy balls, snapdragon, palm leaf and a show-stopping bird of paradise leaf. Every stem (except for the carnations) was hand-painted or dyed. The bird leaf has a series of affirmations chosen by the recipient.
Gooljar and business partner Becca Whittier take flowers all the way to 11 and then some.
Dropping “F Bombs” all over Charlotte
It’s not surprising that Iris Blossom is the creative force behind recent flower bombs that have popped up across town. The first “F Bomb” – sorry; we can’t help ourselves – was dropped April 17 at the corner of N. Davidson and 35th St. And the reason behind it? Gratitude.
“We wanted to thank the community for supporting our art and our business by giving them something to enjoy, even though it’s temporary,” Gooljar said. The duo uses flowers that don’t meet their quality standards, which is a smart decision for the new entrepreneurs.
Fitting the Flowers with the Place
When scouting a location for a flower bomb, they look for areas that have significance to them, get lots of foot traffic and will be a good fit logistically.
“We complete the flower bombs on our own as a team of two,” Gooljar said. “We prep for hours the night before, wake up in the wee hours of the morning to pack up Becca’s car (or my fiancé’s, if available), and set up the installation under the cover of darkness before anyone is around to see it.”
A Creative Labor of Love
It’s truly a labor of love. The business partners typically spend two hours shopping for flowers, three to four hours prepping them, another hour packing them and then unpacking them on-site and up to three hours for the installation.
So, the “flower bomb” moniker isn’t exactly accurate. A bomb implies something that’s dropped off quickly. These “bombs” take hours to pick, transport and arrange. It’s sort of bittersweet – a type of blooming vine whose berries are often used in winter arrangements – that the arrangements will begin to wilt the day they’re created.
The flower-loving duo finds inspiration nearly everywhere.
“Every retail piece and flower bomb we create tells a story through color, texture and shape,” Gooljar said. “We always tell people [on Instagram] what flowers we use and why we use them. Sometimes, it’s music we hear. Sometimes, it’s about my culture (full Trinidadian) or my background. Sometimes, it’s about the turmoil we’re facing – or a celebration. A lot of times, we’re inspired by the words our clients write about their recipient, allowing a truly bespoke floral experience.”
Building a Business on Four Wheels
Iris Blossom doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar space. The team works out of Gooljar’s apartment. Or a car. “We drive for hours and hours every week,” he said. “We drive to get flowers multiple times a week. They don’t always fit the way they need to in Becca’s 2015 Chevy Cruze. We deliver retail orders; we do small- and large-scale events; we do flower bombs; we go out of state.”
They’re currently raising money via a GoFundMe page to buy a proper flower van to make their lives easier. They’re about halfway to their stated goal and aching to reach the finish line.
The need for a new van became even greater last week. Whitter’s car was hit while parked. There’s radiator damage – and it may be totaled. They’re currently in a rental car.
“We’d be able to do more for the community, knowing we have reliable transportation that can fit more than a couple of boxes of flowers or a few orders at a time,” Gooljar said.
Since the first flower bomb was detonated, there have been two more. Where might the next one be? Gooljar and Whittier aren’t saying. But this is one bomb any neighborhood would welcome.
Follow the flowers. Better yet, hire the florist.
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