CHICAGO As undergrads at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Emily Hasler and Jennifer Morisette worked together at Campus Florist, a family-owned shop near the college. After graduating (in 2003 and 2006, respectively), the pals went their separate ways to work for various local florists, but reunited to design flowers for the occasional event. In April, the duo launched Belles and Thistles Floral Design. “The stars aligned this year and we realized it was time to tackle starting our own event business together,” said Hasler.
So far, the company has worked mostly on weddings, but Hasler and Morisette are also pursuing large-scale fund-raisers and corporate events. Hasler describes the Belles and Thistles aesthetic as “fun and a little funky, eclectic, fluid, and textural.” Hasler and Morisette focus on using fresh, seasonal flowers from wholesalers. “Unlike traditional shops, we don't keep any flowers on hand,” Hasler said. “Our clients get the freshest flowers possible.” After consulting with a client, the designers generally need at least 72 hours to acquire the blooms.
For a recent garden-themed event, the pair combined freshly picked pink gladiolas with white stock and berry-colored miniature carnations, and an upcoming function will feature centerpieces of candles and natural branches. But Belles and Thistles likes to take on nontraditional requests too. “We've even done a steam punk/botanical wedding,” said Hasler, a theme that inspired the florists to create arrangements that combined flowers with moss, foliage, and metal accents like gears, springs, and copper tubing. “We aren't scared of a challenge, or trying something different.”