Smith Spotlight #8

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It probably goes without saying, but Smith Design is full of creatives. In our Smith Spotlight blog series, we’re highlighting the talent of our team and their endeavors outside of our studio. Follow along to get to know the people who make Smith Design awesome.

Our eighth Smith Spotlight features our talented Marissa Cook, showing off her beautiful stationery and florist skills.

Marissa is not new to the world of stationery and floral design; she has been working with flowers since 2018 and started designing stationery in college around 2019. A friend of hers was starting their own floral design business and needed an extra set of hands, and Marissa was eager to have a creative job – so, she was quickly introduced to the floral industry. While Marissa knew nothing about flowers, she was excited for the new challenge and eager to be on her feet while learning something new and creative. Through this opportunity, she learned a lot about floral care when it came to preparation and conditioning, industry standards, designing and arranging and even how to “break the rules” in that realm, while learning how to develop her own unique style. She slowly began to familiarize herself with all of the facets and tasks that go into events and weddings.

She was also interested in figuring out a way to get involved using her own set of skills. There were a few things that led Marissa to a place where she felt confident enough to label this work as a “business,” but most of it was a desire to make beautiful things that told a story and that held meaning to people. Another part of it was that she had a love for seeing things come to fruition and to a state of physical completion. Starting with an idea, massaging out details, and after a lot of changes, printing it and sending it off to a client, was what excited and satisfied her, and kept her motivated to create more.

When it comes to Marissa’s creative process when working with a client, it is pretty straight forward. For example, if a client is coming to her for a wedding suite, she likes to start out by hearing what they envision their day to be like, which she finds helpful in not only gauging what is most important to them, but also helps to paint the picture of what the story and experience of what the day is going to be like for their guests. From there, color palettes, pieces that they want to include, and any other details that may be applicable are discussed. Then the designing starts. While stationery may seem like it is just the font and the order of which the names read on the paper, it is much more than this, such as the type of paper used, the combination of textures, the envelope liner, colors used and more. All details play a big part in the story telling of the suite. Once the designs are approved by the client, letterpress plates are ordered, and she gets printing. From there we move onto assembly and curating the nuanced details that add to the entirety of the completed design.

Since there are so many steps, we wondered how long the entire process took from start to finish. She expressed that typically she likes to reserve about 3 months to design and produce the invitation suite, allowing time to talk to the client, design, get their input and feedback and then begin the printing and assembly process. The printing and assembly process itself can range anywhere from one to eight days depending on the quantity and complexity.

Similar to Marissa’s process of working on wedding suites and fine art stationery, her floral freelancing includes a good amount of time. Her time is broken into two parts; the prep work and the day of work. When she is hired to work an event, she works with a team and their prep work usually starts on Tuesdays. The timeline of work can then be gauged based on when the event is and how much work needs to happen. It is always important to be conscientious of the timeline since flowers are perishable products. Things like conditioning and prepping hard goods (candles, hurricanes, tapers, and any cleaning that needs to happen), take place early on in the week if possible. Then, during the rest of the week, she designs what she can in the studio, so there is less to do on the day of the event except for placing, fixing, and making sure everything looks its best. Things like installations or arches need to happen mostly on site since they are designed onto pieces that are part of the venue or are not easily transportable. Some weeks can be 60-hour work weeks, and most wedding days are eight-to-ten-hour days in order to pack everything up, bring it to the venue, set up and install, and of course break down when it is all done.

It can be super easy to get stuck within one look or feel when designing, so it is important to keep coming up with new and creative ideas. Marissa finds that being away from her phone and computer screens helps her a lot when trying to get into a creative mind set. Getting out of her own head and work allows her to gain new perspectives that help inspire and gain insight into the things and people around her.  She also really enjoys being inspired by artists and paintings from the renaissance period, so circling back to some classics always helps.

Marissa has been lucky enough to work with clients who have found out about her services through word of mouth, social media, and her website. She also has pages on The Knot and Wedding Wire. (The Knott & Wedding Wire)

Being that Marissa was once new to this experience, she has learned a lot through her time working, learning, and creating. She learned that you will never really know it all, and that’s what she really enjoys about it. She has learned two entirely new skills, letter pressing and floral design. But on top of the obvious, she continues to learn how to push herself as an artist/designer and how to make her products and end results better based on her standards. Her best piece of advice is if you have the desire and motivation, you can do it, and the only person stopping you is you. You, yourself are also your own worst critic, so give yourself a break – which she knows is cliché, but through her own experience knows that it is 100% true!

She loves being able to be a part of the totality of the project, while having her hand on every detail and telling a story that carries so much sentimentality.

Her work in the world of fine art stationery and floral design has impacted her time at Smith Design in many ways. Between her floral freelancing and launching a small business over the course of the past few years, she feels that it has benefited her on multiple fronts and continues to do so. From working directly with clients, to problem solving skills and learning how to take a step away to gain a different perspective on the design – it’s an on-going skill to be able to learn and grow from experiences and allow them to help shape you to be even better for the next project. Things like learning how to critique her own work, and paying attention to the finer details while also being cognoscente in how the small things affect the bigger picture, are a few things that help her every day at Smith Design. She continues to learn daily and feels that all of  these skills combined can only impact her design projects in a positive way.

Check out more at Marissa’s East Birch Studios Instagram and website.

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