Sarah is a super talented florist in Portland, Maine. During the warmer months, you could find her doing pop up flower sales throughout the city, and if you're in the wedding industry there's no way you couldn't have heard of her. She creates beautiful arrangements for all kinds of events, which I like to think of as the "farm to table" of the floral industry. Her business goes by the name of Watershed Floral and I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with her in her basement studio while she prepped for an upcoming wedding.
How did Watershed Floral get started?
Watershed Floral grew out of working summers (during graduate school and through my years as a teacher) at Kennebec Flower Farm in Bowdoinham. I would come home from the farm with buckets of flowers that I would arrange, using whatever containers I could find, the less vase-like the better. I also spent long days in fields of flowers, thinking about what would go well together. Kind of making bouquets in my head. These years of playing around with and thinking a lot about flowers are really the foundation of what Watershed is today. I’ve had some instruction over the years, but most of what I know about flowers is from spending lots and lots of time with them.
After a few years of work on the farm, I started making bouquets for the farmers’ markets in Brunswick and Portland, which led people to start asking if I did arrangements for events. For a long time, I said no. But after doing flowers for one friend’s wedding and then another, I became more confident and decided to give it a try.
Watershed started very small and very slowly over several summers while I maintained my full-time teaching job. It’s really just been the past two years that Watershed has been on people’s radar. That’s always been how I do things - start small, build slowly and quietly, then emerge with skills and confidence and staying power.
As a child, did you have any artistic inclinations?
I grew up in a very creative family. We were always making things! One drawer in the kitchen was devoted to art supplies, as were many, many other spaces in our house. I learned to knit and sew at a young age. Most gifts were homemade. Despite being surrounded by and deeply immersed in creativity from day one, I did not consider myself to be artistic until I was an adult. Drawing and painting have never appealed to me as forms of expression and this is what I thought to be true art when I was younger, I think primarily because this was the focus of school art class. Also, all three of my younger siblings and our mother are amazing drawers, and I’m more of a stick figure gal, so that took me a while to overcome. When I realized that fiber and flowers are mediums of artistic expression, I began to see myself as an artist.
How has living and working in Maine influenced your business and work?
Maine is everything. I am absolutely in love with this place. Growing up here, I wanted desperately to leave, which I did for a short while, but it wasn’t long before I realized what a gem I had left behind. My pursuit of a life and livelihood connected to the land and to the seasons and to this place has everything to do with where I come from and how I was raised and has a huge influence on my work with flowers. I love the pace of life here and the landscape and the seasons. I think the distinct seasons is one of the things I like the most about life in Maine
Tell us a little bit about your studio. Obviously as a florist you have particular needs for your work space. How did it come about?
My studio is located in the basement of my house, which I share with my husband, my two step-kids, and our dog. Until this summer, I was working in a corner of the basement, among bins of sports gear and old school work. Not ideal, but I made it work. This past winter it became clear that I needed a bigger space, one that was just for me, with a door I could close. I contemplated moving my business out of the house, but that seemed like too large of a leap. I also like having my work be home based. It makes all the late nights and early mornings a little easier to handle. So this spring some family members got together and over the course of a few weekends created what is now my studio. The most exciting part is that I finally have a walk in cooler!
I think I’m going to outgrow this space pretty quickly, but for now it’s perfect. And when I’m ready to move Watershed to another location, my husband and stepson plan to turn it into a music room. Incentive for them help my business grow, I guess!
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Five years from now, I hope to have a thriving retail space that features not just flowers, but also plants and other locally made, handcrafted items - most likely with a farm & garden focus. Hopefully my sister Anna will be my business partner. That’s been our plan for awhile. I also hope to be growing more of the flowers and plants that I use. My roots (no pun intended) are in agriculture, so I want to get back there. I really miss walking long rows of crops, watching an entire field cycle through a season. More weddings & events, a store, and a small farm - that’s what I envision five years from now.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you have any daily visits online?
I am most inspired by being outside, working in the garden, hiking, exploring a new place. I also find a lot of inspiration from the everyday, things that are often overlooked or taken for granted. Being in the kitchen or at the sewing machine or with knitting needles in hand is also very inspiring. Basically exploring and creating…….those are my two favorite things.
What is the most important part to maintaining a creative life in your opinion?
Time away from work. Even if your work is fun and creative and you’re passionate about it. In fact, I think it is most important for people with creative professions to take time away from work in order to maintain creativity. Even if the time away involves creating of another kind, just do something different.
Generally speaking, I think maintaining a creative life requires a willingness to try new things, to take risks, to be curious, to go on adventures, to spend time alone, to not always have a plan, and to make messes. For me, one of the best ways to stay creative is to spend time with children. They see the world through such a unique lens, one that I find refreshing and inspiring.
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