This savvy single woman says she’s married to Floral Art, the Venice storefront where her success stems from mixing botanicals into living art.
How does a single entrepreneur grow their business? If you’re Jennifer McGarigle, owner of Venice’s Floral Art, it happens organically.
“I hope everyone who walks in the door feels comfortable and inspired,” McGarigle said, surrounded by her wares, displayed under soaring ceilings with bountiful light streaming through huge windows.
Shiny Lucite, gleaming metal, and glass prisms sparkle around her, reflecting her personality. Fragrant petals float in bowls, and flowers being snipped and shaped welcome the senses of all who enter this open-concept space in the artsy Abbott Kinney district. The white surfaces and colorful splashes of poppies and dahlias around the sales floor create a garden effect with the proprietress as the focal point. With McGarigle’s barely-there makeup and casual attire, one might even mistake her for a local model wandering amongst the poppies… er, merchandise.
Her faithful companion, a little black pug, follows her footsteps around the gallery. It’s obvious the dog is at home here and both feel at peace in this garden oasis — this indoor space filled with usable items created from outdoor inspirations.
Her distinctive, stylish stamp on botanical décor and her talents as an event designer have garnered attention from a celebrity clientele. Oprah Winfrey, Giada De Laurentiis, Ryan Seacrest, and Tom Cruise are a few of her customers, but so are local citizens who stroll into her loft-like, 3,500-square-foot flower emporium.
McGarigle is a California native from Bodega Bay, where her early influences were creative souls and beautiful landscapes. After graduating from L.A.’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in 1993, where she majored in visual merchandising, she quickly decided to shift from fashion to the floral industry and put her flower power to work when she opened Floral Art in 2003.
With no mentor and little seed money (if you’ll excuse the pun), McGarigle admits she started without a concrete business plan; in fact, there was no business plan at all. She knew the name on her shingle should reflect her goods and services, and she wanted to offer floral décor in new and interesting ways. To this day, installations are her favorite creative expression, so by merging art with nature’s blooms, she invented the name Floral Art.
The descriptive marquee has served her well. Through three location changes, a booming expansion of inventory, and cover stories in national magazines, her store name hasn’t changed, but her reputation certainly has. From individual customer requests for a single bouquet, to red carpet events like the Screen Actors Guild Awards, McGarigle’s creations are in demand.
“The other day, Sharon Osbourne was in here,” McGarigle says noting her own naiveté in that regard, “I didn’t realize who she was. I don’t recognize a lot of celebrities.”
Jennifer and her staff guide customers through everything from total event design to suggesting flowers and accessories as gifts, to dinner party decoration and even landscape elements.
“Anything can be done, as long as you have time to plan,” she says.
She was recently approached by a reality TV show rushing through a home renovation on a short timeline. McGarigle declined to participate. She sees herself as an artist, and that takes time and inspiration.
She is, however, no stranger to television. With appearances on HGTV, “Extra,” “Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood,” and table arrangements designed for “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Jennifer has gotten used to camera exposure. Her long resume of design book and magazine features includes Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle and Martha Stewart Living, which seems a natural match for her burgeoning career. Could her own TV show or botanical empire be far off?
Another organically inspired step toward success involves manufacturing items that can bring everlasting blooms into a room: furniture. Visitors to Floral Art will notice the most recent branch of her expansion prominently displayed, and indeed, customers might even be sitting on it.
“I have a chair fetish,” McGarigle says with a laugh. “Some women like to collect shoes, I collect chairs.”Naturally, or rather, “organically,” as McGarigle says, her furniture line took shape and now includes chairs, tables and ottomans with floral-inspired motifs. Eventually, she envisions outdoor furniture, linens and sculptures that may require the floor space of a department store. If it has a flower or vine involved, she can invent it with her signature look: clean, modern lines with an unexpected twist.
Her lacquer-surfaced furniture makes a chic statement, and some items allow floral inserts to be changed or permanently removed at the user’s whim. That’s great news for anyone who is looking for a change in atmosphere, without a change of address.
The Floral Art web site also draws international orders from Japan, Canada, and recently, Saudi Arabia. It seems this singular California designer planted a flower shop, but grew a money tree.
So, how does a single gal juggle so many event designs, custom floral and furnishing orders, constant media attention, and ongoing inventory expansions? With little sleep, she says. Creative ideas and a demanding schedule swirl in her head, but each morning when she opens the store, she has the serenity of knowing she is following her passion and making her own rules, taking in the aroma of sweet success — in other words, she’s living the singular life.
1338 Abbott Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
Copyright © J.C. Russell / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC.