Poppy is a female-founded company on a mission to be female-empowering. Women at different stages in their lives are finding fulfillment and joy through freelance floral design at Poppy. You’ll meet four members of our freelance designer network in this series.
“I’m prioritizing my big girl job, but this is something I want to do. So it becomes a priority.”
Though she’s living in Atlanta now, Hanna hails from northern California and feels a natural connection to nature and gardens. She credits her California upbringing with her instinctive attachment to flowers.
Another part of her past that’s stuck with her is fitness. She grew up dancing and has always been active. So, it was a natural next step to seek a job with an e-commerce fitness company. She began that career in Dallas, then got a promotion and moved to Atlanta.
When COVID struck, Hanna’s team was reduced to a skeleton crew, and she became responsible for multiple aspects of the business. The team re-expanded as the company recalibrated after the initial shock of the pandemic. Hanna boosted morale by designing and gifting floral arrangements to team members to mark business milestones. It was just for fun, she says, but she got a lot of positive feedback.
She didn’t set out to create a side hustle with floral design. It happened pretty organically. Hanna started an Instagram account in 2020 to showcase her designs, then she started taking orders. Customers would either give her free creative license, or they’d specify a color palette or a favorite flower. It was as simple as an order via DM – nothing serious, she says.
Then, one-off arrangements for special occasions became larger orders for parties, baby showers, and, eventually, even weddings.
Hanna had to admit it: she really had something going.
Looking back now, she sees the path more clearly. Hanna says it wasn’t just her California-driven connection to the land. It was also her time in college spent studying visual culture and art history. She describes her college years as being devoted to art – both as an observer and as a creator herself. She took every studio art elective she could and relished making things.
When she began working with flowers, it was pure experimentation, Hanna says. She sought online resources to learn the mechanics of floral design and experimented constantly. She started with grocery store flowers, then began supplementing higher-quality blooms among inexpensive stems. The investments – both in resources and of her time – worked out for her, she acknowledges. She became more skilled, even without formal training. She describes her approach as pure artistic freedom. Without knowing the rules, she can break them and try new things. The results are pretty stunning (just ask her happy clients).
As Hanna’s skills and style matured, she put more effort into the flowers themselves. She found a wholesaler in Atlanta and started cultivating relationships with sellers at local farmers markets. She began to match local products to farms and sought specific stems through the farmers. Now she knows where to get her beloved dahlias (3 Porch Farm in Comer, Georgia) and zinnias (McMullan Family Farm in Hartwell, Georgia).
She describes her design style as garden-fresh, asymmetrical, and airy. Hanna’s studio art background is evident in her sculptural pieces. She aspires for the eye to move around and seek all the hidden “morsels” in the arrangement.
She talks about flowers like a chef describes a starred dish. Besides the aforementioned morsels, Hanna says “tasty” a lot. And that’s probably because she puts such an emphasis on local sourcing. Hanna knows her local farms’ best products and the farmers’ personal stories, too. She’s seen the flowers growing on these farms, and, really, what could be tastier or fresher than that?
When she designs for brides, her demographic is female 25-35, someone interested in textural, asymmetrical styles. These brides are usually artsy, modern and on-the-pulse, Hanna says. While her personal aesthetic leans boho bride, she won’t say no to a traditional country club bride. In fact, she has a country club wedding this year in June – but there’s a twist. The bride loves bold colors, so there will be terra cotta pots with fuchsia peonies, pink citrus, and yellow ranunculus.
In addition to her special occasions and wedding clients, Hanna has nurtured a relationship with Lemmon Avenue Atlanta. The medical spa features Hanna’s work in its office and orders arrangements for biweekly delivery. Having steady freelance work for local clients opened Hanna’s eyes to the possibilities of turning her talent into something more.
In 2021, her work caught Poppy’s eye on Instagram. The team reached out to Hanna and asked if she’d be interested in auditioning to join the freelance designer network. Hanna was thrilled by the opportunity, she says, and flattered to be considered a serious candidate.
She loved the Poppy concept, and the logistics of the audition were well organized and led by positive people. Hanna remembers receiving her test kit of flowers and building the requisite bouquet and boutonniere. She admits that bouquets aren’t her favorite way to showcase flowers, so after she photographed and filmed her test, she repurposed the stems into an arrangement to show her full skill set.
The extra work paid off: Hanna was accepted into the network.
Her Poppy events fulfill her creatively, and just as significantly, Hanna says that the energy of the young company excites her. Every Poppy contact has been friendly, communicative, and eager to improve processes for freelancers. This makes Hanna feel respected and taken care of.
Even though her full-time work is her e-commerce job, Hanna delights in the fast pace of project-based work with Poppy. It’s hard work, she admits, but very rewarding. There’s something about being active, getting her hands dirty, and using a product to bring a client’s vision to life.
Hanna insists that there’s always room in her schedule for flowers. Her job is flexible and remote, so why not fill the empty hours with design? Her floral freelance workload varies from week to week, season to season. During peak wedding season, there are really long days, Wednesday through Sunday. She’ll allow flowers to fill every inch of her apartment and every waking hour on her calendar. Even the weekend relaxation she craves can be put aside for the chance to create. It doesn’t feel like giving up much; there’s time for anything if it makes you happy, Hanna says.
A full calendar is part of her vision for 2023. Hanna is making this the year of abundance and taking on as many gigs as she can get. Being busy is a blessing, she says, and she envisions taking her business, Han Picked Flowers, to a place where she’ll need to get additional help. She’d love to do floral design full-time, and until she gets there, the freelance jobs feed her spirit. There’s nothing quite like seeing people’s reactions to flowers, Hanna says.
Interested in joining the Poppy Designer Network? Get started here.
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