Widgets Magazine

Chatting Design with Noa Rotem of Flowers' Edge

Q: How did you get into the floral business? A: I have been working in the gift industry for nearly 20 years. Started out designing windows, specialty gifts, and merchandising. One day as I was working on a window display a florist across the street recruited me to help out during Mother's Day--his exact words were "you'd look better working in a flower shop". It was an interesting experience! When I moved to Southern California in 2005 I decided to give it a try full time.

Q: Usually transplants to Southern California are trying to break into the movies. How did you get your first big break in flowers?

I landed a part-time job at high end florist, and quickly got a solid foundation in floral design. I took that training and got a full time designer position with a place on the beach that had a market vibe that I really liked.

I kept both jobs, working some 80 hours a week. Holidays were especially fun - I would work most of the day at one shop and through half the night at the other! It paid off though.

At one shop I learned the entire scope of floral design; weddings, events, funerals and hospitality. The second had an entirely different, young, upbeat atmosphere where I learned about tropicals from Costa Rica and hand tied bouquet. It was one of the best experiences of my life!

At the market-style shop I learned a lot about flower care and shelf life, because it sold a lot of locally grown flowers which were never refrigerated. As a result of that experience I can look at a flower and know how healthy it is. That skill underpins my focus on freshness and quality control.

Q: You’re a long way from SoCal now; did you move straight out here next?

A: No. In 2008 I returned to New York and landed a job managing a high end shop on the Upper West Side. I began to learn the business side of the flower world through purchasing and marketing. That position led me to manage other shops in Manhattan and Long Island. Even as I ran the shops, I continued to freelance in Manhattan. The skills I learned from the exposure to many different designers and events really sharpened my own contemporary style.

In 2014 I moved out here and opened my own shop. It was a natural progression and the best decision!

Q: You’ve done a lot of traveling; why here? Why the North Fork?

A: I love the closeness to nature, how remote and quiet it is. Even while taking a break to get coffee you can be in nature. I can take a quick detour and spend ten minutes just enjoying the ocean. That kind of access to nature is not easy to come by everywhere.

More important, I really love the community here. People are very open, kind, and welcoming, in a down-to-earth way. I have experienced connections that are highly unlikely in the city or even the rest of Long Island.

Flower's Edge arrangement by Noa Rotem Cutchogue NY

Q: You have such unusual flowers. Where do they come from?

A: I go at least once a week to the flower market in NYC and handpick much of my stock. When in season I also purchase locally.

Q: What’s the NYC flower market like? Is it some kind of giant warehouse?

A: It's a block and a half of shops—some are wholesalers, some are both wholesale and retail. Everything arrives fresh from all over the world on most days. The sidewalks are filled with plants, branches and bulk flowers.

The market opens around 5 am, and there’s a rush of purchasing starting at 6 am, which is why I try to get there before. Buyers and sellers come from all over the city and farther. It is an eye opening, energizing experience that I can’t resist. I buy flowers that I like and want to get other people excited about.

Going to the market allows me to source the absolute freshest and ahead of the local season. When colored hydrangeas aren’t in bloom here, they’ll come from Holland or New Zealand; when peonies are not in bloom here, we can get them from the south first. The range of flowers and plants at any given time is immense and exciting - I try to bring it home with me.

Q: It's not just that you use unusual flowers; your designs are strikingly fresh and different. How would you describe your aesthetic?

A: Openminded! Yet always elegant! Thoughtful - it is not about me or the sender, I keep the recipient in mind and try to evoke some feelings.

Q: What do you like about the flower business?

A: I used to think, before I got into flowers, that designing with flowers was limiting. Back then I was working with colorful packaging, ribbons, and ever-changing containers. I would go to trade shows and buy the newest items to create with, the gift industry really has it all - a designer's dream.

Then I realized that the flower world is so much more intense and exciting. There is no substitute for true color and fragrance. The variety amazes me, always! I like the challenge of designing with a live object. I am constantly in growth mode, learning about plants or discovering a new skill. Flowers, in my mind, are nature's expression of love: It is brief, beautiful, and the memory of it lasts forever. Coming in contact with that everyday, bringing that beauty and excitement to others, is just incredible!

Q: Flowers' Edge is an unusual name; I'd guess people don't often think about the edges of flowers, or think of flowers as particularly "edgy". Was there something in particular you wanted to convey with that name? Or is there a different sort of backstory to it?

A: The name is about creativity and passion. When people see my designs, they get it! I know because they come back to tell me, that is the most rewarding part.

Q: Are you open year round? What should shoppers expect if they come in? Do you have a full line of services?

A: I am open year round, seven days a week. I am always accessible, even when the shop is not open, or when I step out for delivery--the calls are forwarded to me.

I provide a full service of floral arranging, including funerals, weddings, hospitalilty, and businesses - you name it, I can craft a unique design for it. The shop is a showcase for an open array of flowers that you can choose by the stem or bunch price. You can get freshly made bouquets and arrangements; better still, you can get something created on the spot.

Flowers' Edge is truly about the flowers, it is a place to get inspired and have fun choosing your flowers. It is not a gift shop, although flowers make the best gifts; it is really a place to tour flowers and plants. Stop by, browse around, and make someone happy! Even if that someone is you!