Meet the PopUp Florist, Fashion’s Budding New Favorite

Owner Kelsie Hayes talks her famed blooms and the inspiration behind her custom piece for the V’s 20th anniversary issue

When it comes to the world of fashion, the attention is always on specifics. From the type of seam to finishing fabric texture, the devil is truly in the details. This reigns particularly true for fashion designer-turned-florist Kelsie Hayes aka the PopUp Florist, who these days, is utilizing her keen eye for design to pluck out what stem shapes and petal tones work best for her top name clients. Combining old-world charm and new world retail concepts, the PopUp Florist has become the choice favorite amongst fashion’s most prestigious events. Fresh off of launching her second storefront inside Neiman Marcus at the new Hudson Yards shopping mall, Hayes sits down to discuss her flower power and the inspiration behind the arrangement she made especially for V‘s celebratory 20th-anniversary issue.

Tell me how you got started? 

Kelsie Hayes: I had just finished working as a designer for a company called Beckley for seven years and I was really trying to figure out what my next move would be. At [work] events, I’d often do the flowers or think of creative takeaways that communicated our brand messaging. I had this idea one night in January 2016 to start the concept of a pop-up flower shop that could pop-up at retail stores, coffee shops, and restaurants, through these pop-up shops we would work with the client and think of ways to subtly communicate their message, through flowers or plants– whether it be the packaging or types of flowers. The ethos of our brand is still the same today, whether it’s big clients or everyday walk-ins, we really want them to leave with an arrangement that is extremely thoughtful. 

How do you think your fashion design background has translated into your arrangements? 

KH: At Beckley, our aesthetic was very laid back infused with a little more elevated New York, we pieced together interesting textures and color palettes so I approach floral design in the same way. My favorite part of designing was always fabric shopping and I think the same can be said for my career as a florist, I love going to the market and sourcing interesting flowers and vessels. I get super excited like a kid every time I go and discover something new. 

Pop-ups are very popular right now as these ephemeral, experimental spaces, how do you think the Popup Florist fits into that? 

KH: Because I have this background in design and retail, I feel like I have the knowledge of what resonates and what doesn’t with customers. In our experience, anytime a floral installation or giveaway is part of what we do, you just see the joy that it evokes in our customers; they love bringing something home or getting their photo moment, that’s always top of mind for us. We just did a pop-up within Shopbop when they were celebrating their 20th anniversary and watching them create that was just so amazing, it was two weeks of watching like this is what retail is like now. It was obviously very intense, but thinking of interesting ways to get people into your store to experience it without just wanting them to shop.

You now have two brick-and-mortars since starting, how did you envision the Popup Florist as a storefront? 

KH: Our main shop is in the East Village doubling as our shop and studio. When creating it, I imagined a really cozy space where people could come in and create their own arrangement or have us make it for them. We actually don’t have anything pre-made, what I’ve found is that people love to be apart of that experience to pick out flowers and create something. We also do intimate workshops of 10-15 people where we show them anything from how to make a bouquet or plant a succulent, just something fun to do after work. In addition to the East Village, we have a dried flower shop at the new Neiman Marcus at Hudson Yards, that’s all grab and go, we make dried arrangements every week and then go set it up.

Why do you think flowers are a timeless gift used to celebrate special moments?

KH: Everything these days is digital, so being able to receive something and have it be tangible is nice. We really cater to sending flowers for everyday occasions, like your friend who was just broken up with or celebrating a promotion. When we create the seasonal menu, I think about creating thoughtful, affordable options. Whether fresh or dried, it’s always a thoughtful gesture, and I don’t think it’s going out of style, luckily for me it’s something that withstands the test of time.   

Can you talk a bit on the special project you created for V’s milestone 20th Anniversary issue, what was your thought process behind the design? 

KH: Dried flowers is a really big trend right now on the runways, it’s great to work with something that’s a sustainable option. When you’re done with the flowers, they can be repurposed and made into arrangements. When people are spending all this money on arrangements, I try to think of a way to give it a second life. We dry the flowers ourselves and really don’t have much waste because anything you would normally throw away we try to dry. I thought this would be great for V’s window because it’s more of a sculptural piece than just flowers, it’s just very creative and eye catching which is why I proposed it for V.

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