Stem Research

One of NYC’s Top Florists—and the Upstate Studio That Helps Her Thrive

As the co-founder of Poppies & Posies, Sierra Steifman has created bouquets and centerpieces for over a decade’s worth of cool NYC weddings and parties. Somehow, that wasn’t keeping her busy enough, and in 2018, she launched Floral Society, a line of simple, chic gardening and floral-arranging supplies that make amateurs feel like pros. Even more recently, Sierra relocated her two businesses from a behemoth basement space in Brooklyn to a slightly smaller—but much more brightly lit—studio in Dobbs Ferry, New York, on the banks of the Hudson River. Here’s how she makes the most of her dreamy, hyper-functional space and what she relies on to help her keep three (and counting!) business running smoothly.

Q. How did you find this incredible space?

A. “When I decided to move up to the river towns, I went looking for studio space and came across this building. It was the first place I looked at, and I knew I’d never find anything better. It used to be this old, gross office space, but they redid the building and kept the original architecture. So online it looked terrible, but it wound up being pretty magical. It’s right on the river, and I feel so lucky to be here. I have the Poppies & Posies studio, and I just took over the space next door for Floral Society.”

Q. Did you have to do a lot of hunting to find the right furniture?

A. “Actually, all of the tables and white shelves were handmade by my friend Manu, who makes a lot of stuff for events and weddings for his company Revolve Studio. I wanted tables that were the right height for me—and on wheels so we can move them around. We group them in the center for big events so that when our full freelance team is here, we can all work together.”

Q. Tell us about all of your amazing styling pieces!

A. “The candleholders and cake stands are all things I’ve collected over the years. When I moved up here from Brooklyn, I did get rid of a ton of stuff. When I first started collecting, there was a wedding trend of vintage stuff, but that’s since gone kind of out of style. Most floral designers have minimal amounts of space, so they’ll come and rent this stuff from us. Though I really need to stop starting businesses—it’s really enough at this point.”

Q. What tools do you have to have in your professional kit?

A. “As far as the tools go, in the studio we use one of the Floral Society canvas wall organizers, which has lots of snaps and pockets. The clippers we sell are manufactured in Japan. They’re the only style of clipper I’ve used for eight years. They live forever, and you never have to sharpen them—so I knew I couldn’t sell anything else. Wire-cutters are also super important for what we do, and rose thorn strippers are great—you just drag them down the stem, and they pull off all the leaves and thorns. Also, hammers because any time you have a woody-stemmed flower, like a lilac or lace hydrangea, you smash the bottom of the stems before you put them in water to help them to drink.”

Q. There are a lot of dried branches and grasses in the studio. Are they in again?

A. “Dried stuff is having a heyday right now. It’s no longer just grandma chic. We recently did a semi-permanent dried floral installation on someone’s mantel in their home. The client wanted a bigger piece, so I pitched her this idea because we’d just have to come in and freshen it up a couple times a year. It came out really cool.”

Q. Can you talk us through some of your other favorite spring flowers right now?

A. “Right now, we have a ton of hellebores, which are my absolute favorite, and they’re really only around in these early spring months. The other thing that’s having a moment right now is dyed flowers. The irises, the sweet pea, and some of the carnations from this shoot are dyed, and people are obsessed with them. They’re no longer those vibrant neon colors—they’re coming in these softer, more tonal colors that fit my style of arranging more, like browns and muted purples that you wouldn’t usually get flowers in. There are also some dyed brownie tulips that recently broke the florist internet. People were freaking out about them.”

“Butterfly ranunculus are another favorite. They don’t look like a regular ranunculus. They’re kind of fluttery and light. They have almost a waxy texture. The growers are catching on to what people really want, so they’re growing stuff in greenhouses and making exciting stuff available.”

Q. Do you have tips for amateurs trying to buy great flowers if they don’t live near a major floral market?

A. “For non-florists, I would suggest Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s if your town flower shop isn’t doing it. Whole Foods often has some locally sourced options. Farmers’ markets are also great. I recently met a woman starting a mobile flower shop called Sprig Flower Truck—everything is sourced from growers no more than 200 miles from Westchester, and she’s parking at markets around New York.”

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