Jennifer Bowes had been working in corporate finance and operations when the pandemic halted regular life. In her newly found free time, Jennifer revisited her passion for flowers, and the art of floral preservation intrigued her. Before settling on resin as her preservation medium, Jennifer tested different methods. Resin was the clear winner, and her floral preservation business, Forage & Flower, bloomed.
While preserving wedding bouquets is Forage & Flower’s most popular service, Jennifer can preserve memorial flowers and floral arrangements from milestone occasions like anniversaries and birthdays. The designer can even help clients recreate their wedding bouquet and then preserve it for a keepsake. Learn more about the entrepreneur and how she found the courage to leave a corporate job to focus on her floral preservation business.
Artisan Joy: How did you get started in floral preservation and design?
Jennifer Bowes: I have always been captivated by flowers. Creating organized chaos through color, texture, and floral harmony allows my passion to meet my need for order and balance. As with all things in life, flowers transition, losing color and becoming too fragile to handle. I wanted to preserve the flower’s integrity. I explored, experimented and found that resin allows me to fully encapsulate the beauty of each flower. These encapsulations serve as beautiful mementos of your special day. I preserve wedding bouquets to honor those memories and allow them to be cherished forever.
AJ: At what point did you realize that you could turn your craft into a business?
JB: While I had opportunities to work with florists in my younger years, the need for stability became prominent, and I shelved the passion to work in a corporate setting. In 2020, when the rest of the world was shutting down, my passion was opening, and I returned to my dream of having my own flower business. Finding myself at a crossroads, waves of self-doubt and fear washed over me. Rather than repeating, ‘I can’t,’ I listened to people who believed in me and leaned on the support of my amazing husband. The question of ‘HOW can I?’ became ‘how can I NOT?’ I took the leap of faith, bet on myself and put the work into creating my business on my terms and making Forage & Flower my full-time priority.
AJ: How do you define success for your creative business?
JB: Success is typically defined by financial gain. While that is one version of success, I believe that there is more to it than that. Success is creating a piece that a bride loves, reminding her of a beautiful moment in time. Success is betting on myself and continuing to learn and gain more. Success is fully following my passion and sharing it with others.
AJ: Where do you find inspiration?
JB: Beauty is all around us—nature inspires me most. I love incorporating foraged materials into my arrangements, creating one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to slow down a little bit and appreciate our surroundings.
AJ: What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
JB: I am, and always will be, a huge Excel nerd. I put everything into a spreadsheet.
AJ: As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?
JB: Preserving flowers in resin is an art form that feeds my OCD soul. Timing, temperature, accuracy and lots of patience are required. Although there are many things that need to be perfect to create the piece, there can always be a flower that won’t cooperate, a bubble in the resin or another difficulty to overcome. I try to view these hurdles as opportunities to learn and improve my craft. Sometimes the obstacles result in a happy accident, reminding me perfect isn’t real and there is beauty in every piece.
AJ: What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin selling their art or creative product?
JB: Ask for help. You gain insight by asking questions. Bet on yourself. Take pride in what you do and appreciate the journey. Always be open to learning new lessons.
AJ: What’s something that surprised you about running a creative business?
JB: I was surprised at how many directions you can take with your craft. I am always learning and finding new foraged pieces, arrangements and combinations of colors and textures that spring into 1000 new ideas.
AJ: Running a business brings joys and challenges. What advice would you give to someone about handling the highs and lows?
JB: My first year in business was an emotional rollercoaster. There were days when I felt like I was on top of the world and others where I just couldn’t get out of my own way. Having a solid support system was so important. Surround yourself with people that believe in you. When you hit those lows, take a moment to remind yourself of why you started your business.
AJ: Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?
JB: Yes, I have received criticism before. It can sting a little bit to hear someone critique your work, but I try to embrace it. When you are selling your work, listening to the voice of your customer is important. Constructive criticism can help you improve your craft and become a better artist and entrepreneur.
AJ: What’s a cause you are passionate about and why?
JB: Flowers possess healing properties and bring joy and peace. What Cheer is a nonprofit urban flower farm dedicated to bringing solace, joy and healing to the people of Rhode Island via flowers. The organization also supports our local floral economy through job training. They give away 100,000 flowers per year to hospitals, hospices, food pantries, senior services, recovery centers and shelters in Rhode Island. You can learn more at www.whatcheerfarm.org.
AJ: What brings you joy?
JB: Spending time with my husband Matt and our dog Murphy. We love to go to the beach during the off-season and comb the beach for treasures. I also love caring for my small garden.
Thanks, Jennifer! You can learn more about Forage & Flower and custom floral preservation at forageandflowerpvd.com.