"I always wear an apron. It’s sort of like my game face, along with when I get into serious mode. " Emily Eberwine said. “Wearing an apron puts me in the place I need to be and is a representation of my personal style.”
Interview and Story by, Mary Ladd
Emily, 36 is a floral designer and gardener who first fell in love with the beautiful landscape of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast growing up. Time in her mother’s lush and vibrant garden shaped Emily’s love for floral beauties such as trumpet vines, English ivy, daisies, hibiscus, and marigolds. As a licensed florist and owner of Pick-a-Petal in New Orleans for the past four years, Emily expertly creates floral pieces with brilliant bursts of texture balanced by color. Being a gardener means that Emily is able to incorporate grass, berries, twigs and other non-flowering items throughout her arrangements.
When she is gardening, foraging and creating each day, Emily is motivated to make something that offers pleasure and surprise. Her floral designs involve celebratory events that range from weddings and baby showers, to delightfully relaxed dinner parties, home and garden tours as well as big events for businesses and non-profit agencies.
Your mom taught you. Did she wear an apron?
My mother had this apron that was white. In the seventies and eighties, she’d always pull it out for the holidays. It was frilly on the sleeves and I remember thinking it was pretty, wonderfully Southern and fancy. I can’t remember if it got dirty or not (laughs).
How did you become the floral designer and gardener that you are today?
This is what I always wanted to do. I never thought I could make a career with it. I got a lot of amazing feedback when I first started as a side hobby, so I looked more into how to go about starting this as a job and career.
What does wearing an apron mean to you? Do you always wear an apron when you work? Why?
I always wear an apron. It’s sort of like my game face, along with when I get into serious mode.
My husband will laugh and say, “Alright, you’re getting into the mode," when I have the apron on. Wearing an apron puts me in the place I need to be and is a representation of my personal style. It also represents my business.
What’s your dream work space?
I’d love a rooftop garden with a small indoor studio and a walk in cooler. With that set up, I can have access to both the outdoors and indoors, along with a nice view.
What people, places and things are integral to your work?
I have supplies like my scissors of various sizes.
I also need floral tape, which works magic and is my favorite tool. It has this weird stickiness that stays on your fingers. You can pull anything off with floral tape. I love it.
I have a few local friends who are in the floral business. We all share things, which is great when you’re in a pinch.
Holt McCall designed these aprons specific to your style of floral arranging & foraging. How did they get to that design and what is your favorite detail?
I had two big projects and was able to test the prototypes in the studio and onsite.
Some of my trimmers are smaller so having a skinnier pocket that is deeper will mean there’s not anything sharp sticking out if I’m on a ladder, or something.
There is also space for my specialty tools.
For the material, it’s nice that I can wipe my hands on it, but not leave green stains behind.
I love that the apron is comfortable to wear. Comfort is key and by wear testing it, I saw that it definitely had comfort for the studio, on the ladder and on the farm.
What are your favorite details? Tell me about the fabric and why it works for your craft.
One was for when I was in the studio working with actual flowers and building things. The other was for foraging and going out to collect things like vegetables, berries and twigs.
The studio apron is a longer breathable version, with a slit in the front. That slit detail gives the apron a more feminine look and feel, while making it less like a butcher-type apron. There’s a nice little side pocket to put my hand in and store specific scissors. I’m a big pocket person. I’m a lady who likes pockets in my dresses.
The second apron is for foraging. It started with a large baggy elastic pocket and evolved into a more secure, structured expandable pocket with a button to keep it secure when empty. With the button, it looks super cute.
In the world of flowers & foraging, who is your hero and why?
I really adore the work of Francoise Weeks. She works out of North America now and builds things that are inspired by nature that can look like a woodland forest in a bouquet. She brings nature directly into whatever she builds, and that’s very inspirational.
How does living in New Orleans influence your work?
Living here is constant inspiration because things are always green here. Something is typically always in season and blooming. There’s tons of color. When the jasmine comes out, I’ll use it.
Standing under the trees in the morning in the sun with the dog at the park is inspiration. When I see a vine growing through a gate, it gets me thinking, “Oh, I want to play with vines”.
If you weren’t a floral designer and gardener, what would you be? Would that involve wearing an apron?
I’m living my dream. I’d love to have a dog rescue farm and wear an apron and carry little treats for the dogs.
Why do you think there seems to be a resurgence of local makers in America?
It’s nice to support friends and neighbors that create and do what they adore. I have so many friends who now work for themselves doing what they want to do, what they’ve always loved. You can see what your natural talent may be and see what you can make a career out of. It’s a pretty cool thing.
What work are you most proud of?
I built this amazing flower chair for an interior designer named Rivers Spencer. We covered it with flowers and it was really beautiful to see art in bloom.