By Lisa Cericola Posted September 9, 2009, 9:00 AM EDT
NEW YORK Anne Kilcullen found herself working in the event industry in 2001, after interviewing for a sales manager position at Bloom, a floral design company. “When I walked in, I knew I had to work there,” she says. “I didn’t care what I would be doing, because the shop was so beautiful.” She ended up renting out Bloom’s two spaces for parties, learning event planning along the way. On Valentine’s Day the next year, Kilcullen worked with the staff through the night to finish all of the holiday orders. What would seem like an exhausting experience actually invigorated her, sparking a lasting interest in flower arranging. After four years managing two Bloom locations, then honing her design skills during a four-year stint as manager and creative director at floral shop Flowers of the World, she decided to go solo, opening Blade Floral & Event Designs in fall 2007.
“I learned so many aspects of the business that I wanted to do it for myself,” she says. Kilcullen says the name of the shop speaks to her “striking, fresh, crisp, and clean” design sensibility. “I may use modern containers and structural flowers, but I always like the flowers to speak for themselves,” she says. Kilcullen enjoys translating clients’ ideas into a cohesive look, sometimes through the help of collages she creates on her computer with photos of flowers, candles, and other decor elements. “Sometimes people aren’t very visual and it’s hard for them to articulate what they want.”
The designer says she encountered a challenge when providing flowers for the launch of Judith Jones’s book The Tenth Muse at Bon Appétit’s pop-up restaurant in October 2007. “[Jones] loves anything French; her style is much more Provençal. And the event was in a very modern space with graffiti and mirrored surfaces.” Working with a minimal budget and little to no room on the tables, Kilcullen made small arrangements of lavender. “There were bungee cords in the decor, so I tied white rope around the arrangements, melding both feelings together.”
Kilcullen has attracted a wide range of corporate clients, from marketing and consulting firms to book publishers like Knopf. Kimberly Yorio, a partner at public relations firm YC Media, hired Kilcullen for several book parties and social events. “Some of the big [floral design] places have a style and they train everyone in that style. Anne helps you create your own style,” Yorio says. “And when you talk about budgets, she always finds a way to make something special out of whatever you can afford.”