When I met Carly of Thurman & Fig at a photoshoot a few years ago, what first caught my eye was the shape of the bouquets and installations she creates. Think lush, organic, wild, textured, edgy and full of love and life… her laid back, approachable personality is so refreshing in this industry and her work honestly speaks for itself!
When she moved into a new studio space in an industrial warehouse building in Baltimore, I had to capture a day in the life of Thurman & Fig team. When I visited, no bouquets were being designed and assembled, but instead, processing and prep for an approaching wedding weekend was underway. If you ask me, spending time with Carly in this raw space during the middle of the week is heavenly… whether blooms are placed in a bouquet or not.
What led you to begin a business in floral design?
I never anticipated it. A few years after studying at SCAD, I worked under the Anthropologie umbrella for about 6 years in various management roles before switching over to their sister brand, Free People for 2 years. That is where things got started - in both realms, but Anthropologie mostly, I learned entirely new skill sets that furthered my development in craft, building, composition, and resourcefulness, all the while learning how to run a business. "No" was never really an option there, so you figured out how to make it happen no matter what. The tenacity and experience I gained from that really provided a pathway for me.
Anthropologie held "Birthday Events" regularly and that is where the details came into play, including starting to work with fresh flowers. One of my employees at the time noticed this and asked if I could do the florals for her sister’s wedding. I absolutely had zero idea of what I was doing but it sounded awesome so I was going to make it happen - even if that meant literally moving into a new house that same weekend (it worked out, we were able to use the old house to set up while the new house had stacks of untouched boxes until I got through this wedding). From there, the rest is history and I thank that past Anthro employee any time I see her for seeing something in me that I wouldn't have seen in myself.
What is your favorite aspect about working with clients?
The trust factor. We don't do a whole lot of advertising or preferred vendor lists at venues because ultimately, our clients should be finding us. Yes, I want to make the process easier for them but I also think our style is something they should gravitate towards on their own and not because it is on a list somewhere or in a magazine. When they do find us and we nail down the look they want, I love when they give us our creative freedom from there to essentially make them their own 3-dimensional art form.
What is one piece of advice you'd share with couples to keep in mind during the wedding planning process?
I will give you a concrete piece of advice and a fluffy one.
Concrete: Even if it means taking away from your floral budget, get a coordinator! Even if it is just a "day of", this will save your sanity, your family's sanity, and your vendor's sanity. Worth every penny so you can enjoy your wedding and let them help handle anything out of your control.
Fluffy: At the end of the day when all the craziness of planning your wedding ensues, remember this: It is a privilege to have found a love so powerful that you want to celebrate it in this way. It is a privilege to be able to celebrate it in this way. Anything after that is fairy dust.
What makes your work and business, different from other florists?
For starters, I feel like such a rookie! We haven't been doing it for THAT long and I have so much to learn. I really look up to the other florists in the area and think they have a lot to offer. It takes a village and I know we certainly can't say yes to all the wedding submissions we get, so I like to focus on not being different from other florists necessarily, but working together to be able to help every client we come across. It is ultimately up to the couple from there to make sure they choose the florist that speaks to them most.
What is your favorite color palette or type of flower to work with?
I love neutrals personally but I'm not talking ivory neutral here. My house is all neutral and muted with more focus on texture than bold colors or prints and the studio tends to be that way too. Greys, camel browns, muted pinks, taupe, soft whites, with lots of green plants have my whole heart in an interior space, so it is no surprise that it is my dream flower color palette too.
Where do you find inspiration?
I inadvertently go towards textural dried grasses and greens and I think that is largely due to spending so much time running around the bay/marsh/ocean of where I grew up in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach Delaware. That is also why although the majority of our work is in and around Baltimore, we still take bookings in Delaware because it gives me a chance to visit home. Need driftwood or phragmite for an installation piece? Trust me, I'll be kayaking out and up to my knees in marsh mud foraging it in no time and with absolute pleasure to be in an element that once was a huge part of my childhood. I think that is what makes us a bit more rare because the juxtaposition of natural elements mixed in with the grit of our city, tells a story of all it's own.
What do you love most about your studio space?
We are located in an industrial warehouse in Greektown, Baltimore and the building is full of artists. Woodworkers, painters, sculptures, puppeteers, photographers, etc and everyone just gets each other. We are all there, making our craft, working long and weird hours, being a little introverted and focused. I love it.
Where would you go if you were planning your honeymoon right now?
Ha, vacation on the mind? Probably Lisbon Portugal, any part of Fiji or Thailand. Or the Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland too. So I guess that would make it about a 3 month honeymoon which is totally realistic.
Favorite recent read or must-watch series on Netflix?
Reading hasn't been happening lately and it isn't the fault of the book I am in the middle of. I will blame it on the great series that play in the summer months. Ever since Weeds hit Showtime when I was younger, I always look forward to a dry, dark humored series in the summer months when you just need to cool off at night in your living room and veg out. I am really into sci-fi right now I suppose including The OA, Stranger Things 3 (who isn't), and the Handmaid's Tale because that story is every part horrifying and important to watch or read.
Any exciting upcoming projects or collaborations we should be on the look out for?
We are starting to conceptualize the idea of holding workshops in our studio after our busy fall season and right in time for the holidays. In no particular order, we will most likely hold a bouquet class, centerpiece class, and a terrarium class at some point. Stay tuned for that!
Thanks so much to Carly and her team (plus Brown Dog, #urbanrowpup)! I can’t wait to continue to work together on future weddings, photoshoots and all things natural with the perfect touch of city grit. Be sure to follow her work on Insta for all the floral inspo!