Self-proclaimed flower girl, Ryan Norville, founder of Brooklyn-based floral company, is busy making arrangements, and a baby! (No big deal).
Inspired by her creativity, and our aligned beliefs that flowers make everything better and lift our spirits, Ryan shares her love of blooms and the artistry behind arranging. Plus, a few tips for creating beautiful bouquets, at home... let's hear it for backyard celebrations!
Do you first and foremost consider yourself a florist or a journalist, or simply a creative — tell us a little about the magical work you do.
I think that’s a tricky and sometimes confusing question. I don’t think of it in terms of choosing – I don’t think about my job title anymore because our generation doesn't need to choose one career. Instead, I acknowledge the skills I’ve come to hone and they ebb and flow into different projects throughout the year. None of them are my sole focus; I follow what I’m passionate about, and what serves me the most creatively.
How did you decide to launch your floral shop?
Oat Cinnamon officially opened last year after working with flowers for a while beforehand — sometimes as a freelancer, sometimes at home, and sometimes just playing with them at events. When I recognized I had a passion for flowers, I took time to study and assist other florists and ultimately came to design my arrangements because I knew I had a point of view and wanted to share with others.
Congratulations on your pregnancy — are you having a boy or a girl?
Will you teach your child the beauty of flowers?
Depending on their level of interest, yes. But ultimately, I mostly want my baby to learn the power of connecting with nature, not just flowers exclusively. The power of retreat, emerging yourself in plant-based foods, the incomparable experience and knowledge you gain from traveling, plus the therapeutic nature of working with flowers.
Your love story?
It’s quite a long one! But to keep it brief, I met my husband 12 years ago while I was in high school. We were, and still do attend the same church and were at a youth camp. He was a few years older than me and left for college first, so we were friends for a couple of years before dating and got married about eight years after we first met. It’s been a journey for sure. When you grow up with someone from a young age, there’s always a chance you will grow to be adults that no longer have the same interests or compatibility. But luckily, growing together has been the best way to know each other and make us closer to one another.
Traditions you love?
I love slow moments, getting to work with my hands through crafts, plus traveling (more locally now!), and spending time with friends. Plus, I love working out.
A ritual you practice daily?
My days are all very different, so keeping a daily practice can be difficult. Right now, (at least before the baby gets here), my mornings are important to me and set the tone for the rest of the day. I need at least an hour alone to sit in silence, watch the sky, relax, meditate, read, and pray before I tackle the day.
Key lessons you've learned (spiritually, emotionally, mentally) over the last few months of isolation and most recently during this time of protest, especially while pregnant?
I think we’re all having a year where we are learning about what truly matters in life. Many of us have had to make sacrifices or put dreams on hold for this year. I’ve seen people react in many ways to the loss of power over their plans or rather the idea of control.
Though for me, this time has taught me to be happy with what I have, enjoy my stillness with my family, be content, and mostly, be grateful for where I am – nothing is promised.
Using your voice, raising each other up and amplifying Black voices can take many forms — what does this mean to you, and what's your approach?
For me, using whatever resources I have to help others and help break systemic racism within all the institutions in place set up to oppress BIPOC. In this country, that’s pretty much every single industry, and they must all be uprooted and changed. Each of us holds power and influence somehow and must come together in action. Whether that’s educating yourself on systemic racism, Black history, listening to Black people tell their stories, being on the frontlines of protests, or in meetings at work advocating for diversity in staffing and representation in other areas of your company, everyone can effect change. We must make this a way of life, not a one-time fad.
How do you see the future — what does it hold?
If we've learned anything this year, it's that control over our future, is an illusion, so we have to live and work now. I’m hopeful our generation and the next will fight for intersectional equality, and we will be able to see historically marginalized communities not just survive but thrive.
Quick Tips For Flower Arranging At Home:
There are many ways to approach floral arranging at all different levels of experience. All you need is flowers, sharp shears, and a vessel to put them in.
1) Consider playing with each element of design. For example, if you have just one type of flower, play with composition, different flower heights, shapes, and colors. If you have an assortment of flowers, experiment with various ceramics and textured flowers.
2) For advanced arranging, I first think about the goal of the arrangement. Is it to convey movement? Is it to mimic a scene in nature, is it to tell a story with color? For me, I think this helps to create impactful arrangements, no matter what my resources.
3) Above all else, keep it simple. Flowers are beautiful on their own. If you’re having a small gathering or event, simplicity can often be the most sophisticated.
4) Work with what you got and make it magic, but if the choice is yours, reach for roses. They come in so many colors and tend to live longer than more delicate varieties.
5) And, don't forget to change the water daily if you want your arrangement to last.