Tell us a little about yourself / your business
My name is Ali Powell Louwe. I’m a Victoria born and raised local with a passion for dog walks in nature and foraging wildflowers. I’m the owner and designer at Powell Floral, which is a floral business focused on using exclusively local and seasonal products to create beautiful, lush pieces for events and workshops
How did you get into this?
In the summer of 2015, I was working as a yoga instructor and a housekeeper at Nimmo Bay in the Great Bear Rainforest. One of the tiniest of my job responsibilities at the resort was to pick flowers from the property and forage foliage from the forest to make little arrangements for the guest’s cabins. This process gave me so much joy, and it turned into my personal nature/creative therapy... I was instantly hooked.
What is a key defining characteristic or choice you have made in developing your business, and why?
Once I discovered floral, I became very inspired by other florists like @floretflower and @ponderosa_and_thyme on Instagram. I wanted to become a florist and work with local flower farmers and seasonal product. I wanted to create a relationship with clients and workshop attendees that was based on open-mindedness, awareness of sustainable choices, creativity, and respect. So I started Powell and I work with a growing community (pun intended) of local seasonal flower farmers, and I forage a lot. I love to design and work with wild and lush product.
There’s a whole world of ethics around flowers that people really don’t know about, like with food. What would you want people to know about?
Amen! Yes, it’s a super interesting topic and it’s not one that gets discussed very often. I’m relatively new to the industry, but I definitely see a huge shift happening right now with more local floral farms opening up in Canada. So, buying a local and seasonal product is becoming a bit more attainable, but imported floral is still a huge part of the traditional commercial floral industry.
What are a few easy tips for people to buy local flowers?
The hard part of purchasing flowers from most flower shops is that product is rarely labeled with any indication of its origin. So it’s hard for consumers to be aware of their purchasing habits, or what industry they’re supporting.
If you’re new to flowers or if you’re not aware of what flowers are likely to be local, the best bet is to start off by talking with your florist about any local floral options. In the spring, summer, and fall there are a lot of local floral options. Even in the dead of winter, there are lots of local floral greenhouses, so you can almost always buy local, your flower shop just may need more notice to make these arrangements..
But the best bet is to support your local flower farmer directly! Go to markets, follow flower farmers on Instagram and ask how you can order from them.
Some great flower farmers in Victoria you can follow on Instagram are:
What challenges have you overcome that lead you to a deeper understanding or a shift in perspective for you or your business?
I think one of my challenges with working as a creative is having faith that the direction of my path is the right path to take. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to work a stable job, with a defined job description and a regular paycheck. But I really love what I do. I love working with flowers from my home studio with music, and my puppy Lola. I love teaching others in fun and creative workshops and building relationships with clients and other vendors. So, I’m just going to keep pursuing this passion.
- What would you say is the biggest lesson you've learned on your path this far?
I’m learning a deep level of respect for everyone’s journey, including my own. Not every part of my path has been perfect. I have flaws, and so do other people. Learning how to love imperfections is a constant focus for me in my life and in my business.
You are about to host your first official workshop at my studio! I love that you have collaborated with other local businesses to create a locally connected experience for the attendees. What are you most excited about?
Firstly, I’m so excited to meet some amazing new people! This upcoming Lush & Wild Spring Bouquet Workshop at the Picot Studio is the first official workshop I’m hosting for the public. Don’t get me wrong, I am a pretty confident person, but I honestly thought that it might be hard to sell out the workshop. I had already had a few of my friends in my mind that I thought I would ask to be stand in’s to fill the space out! I could not believe that the workshop sold out in less than 2 days and to mostly new faces! I am so excited to share what I’ve learned so far, to create a fun environment, play hip music, eat yummy treats and drink Goodlife juice, which is being provided for us to enjoy!
I will be posting on my social media soon about the upcoming workshops that will be held in Summer 2018!
Tell us 5 things people generally don’t know about you
- -I’m turning dirty thirty this month!
- -I’m doing the final year of my undergrad in Psychology. It’s a personal project, and probably one of the hardest things I’ve done to date.
- -I was granted permission to wear hats to my elementary school for kindergarten and grade one because I refused to take them off.
- -I am a middle child!
- -My one major life goal is to buy a little home with a garden and an outdoor shower, I hope to fill my home with kids and cats and dogs and so much good food.
What would you tell your younger self?
Be gentle. It’s okay to feel feelings. Good job! You are doing things perfectly. Keep going. Focus on what makes you feel good.
Besides time and money, what would you like more of in life?
More travel, both personal and for work.
Children. I think I would like some little ones to run after!
Much love and gratitude for Ali in sharing her insights, journey and floral workshops with us. You can follow her along on Instagram at @powellfloral and stay tuned for more of her workshops and events that she works on. I think she has already been brewing ideas to collaborate with a few different spaces for these! Love these Q&A blogs? Let me know! leave a comment below on what you'd like to hear more of, how Ali's interview helped you find more local flowers, or anything else! Thanks for reading.