UrbanStems and Vogue: Blooming in Style

by Catherine Douglas Moran

A partnership between the fashion magazine and floral company results in beautiful, limited-edition bouquets. 

The Winter Edit bouquets designed by Vogue editors (Photo courtesy of UrbanStems.)

UrbanStems, an online flower delivery company, recently rolled out the first of its eight seasonal collections designed by Vogue editors. We talked to Cameron Hardesty, head of product at UrbanStems, about the new Vogue bouquets, how curating bouquets keeps waste low and Washingtonians’ sense of floral style.

What are the floral trends for 2018 and how much do they influence your designs?

We look a lot to the world of fashion and art because those types of color trends flow down through the entire industry. I think purples for sure are going to be trending. And what we’re seeing is the dichotomy between the minimalist, all white Scandinavian-influenced design, which is still going to be really important particularly in our native market, and then drawing back in richer, jewel tones. We see demand among our customer base for both.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Do D.C. customers desire the traditional two dozen red roses or do they find that boring?

Our customers have shown an interest in the nontraditional Valentine’s Day floral offerings. We’ll be offering a mix of peach and pink roses with calla lilies. I love that bouquet because it’s fresh, bright and happy. It’s very much our brand, and it lets someone say “I love you” or “I’m thinking about you” on Valentine’s Day and send that message without it being stodgy. We’ll also have our Jackie – one of our perennial best sellers – which is a mix of greens and roses and calla lilies. And of course, we are offering our Vogue bouquets, and there are red roses in one of the bouquets – The Nicole – that Nicole Phelps, the runway director for Vogue, designed.

Where do you start for the design process?

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The best designs result from a really strong inspiration. Color is obviously a big source of inspiration, but there can also be cultural inspirations too. For instance, one of the Vogue bouquets we have now – The Sally – the inspiration for that is a 100th birthday party for a British granny.

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When I look at the bouquet, it really evokes that feeling for me.

Are there any underrated flowers?

There are flowers that I don’t think have hit the mainstream yet, but are really cool. In The Nicole bouquet there is a flower called scabiosa, and it’s actually in The Selby bouquet as well. In the Nicole bouquet, it’s a really dark burgundy, and in The Shelby, it’s a lavender flower, but they are just really beautiful, cool little flowers.

How does UrbanStems minimize waste?

A conventional florist who is taking all kinds of custom orders has to stock up on a little bit of every type of stem so that they can fulfill a customer’s custom request. Because we’re only offering a set number of curated bouquets, the more accurate we get with our forecasting, the tighter we’ll be to actual demand when ordering.

Where have you traveled to visit flower farms?

Ecuador, Bogotá and Aalsmeer near Amsterdam. There are some really cool local farms too and of course, Miami. Miami is the gateway for all flowers in the U.S. Our orchid grower is actually out by Culpeper, Virginia.

Does customer feedback influence your bouquets?

This summer we got a lot of input and found out that we were missing out on this piece of the market around condolences and sympathy, which, for the floral industry, is a big piece of the market. We had in the past launched an all white bouquet for that purpose, but it didn’t get a lot of traction. That was about two years ago. We relaunched a white bouquet of all white tulips that we have up now and that tends to sell really well. That definitely came out of customer feedback.

The three inaugural arrangements in The Winter Edit collection cost $138 with vase and delivery included and are available from Jan. 11 until early March.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. 

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