Florist Friday: A Chat with Flower Girl NYC’s Denise Porcaro
If you walk down Columbus Circle’s new underground turn-style, amidst the food stalls in this heavily commercial space, you’ll find a stand of unusual branches and hanging vases– a new kind of flower shop. Flower Girl NYC‘s main boutique is located on Eldridge Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but they’ve recently expanded here, to Columbus Circle.
The florist, Denise Porcaro, started Flower Girl NYC in her mid-twenties after studying film in college. Throughout her career, her work has been featured in Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire, among others, as Porcaro has become increasingly known for bringing exciting creativity and versatility to the flower world.
When she’s not running her boutique shop, Porcaro can be found designing flowers for institutions like the Guggenheim, the New Museum, or the New York Public Library– otherwise she’s collaborating with wellness brands to create products like soap, incense, and candles. She’s worked with Blackbird to create a unique incense, and with Farm Candy, where their combined expertise in chocolate and flowers resulted in two irresistible flavors of chocolate: sugared lavender, hibiscus, rose, and chamomile, as well as a savory flavor, herb mélange with smoked sea salt.
Porcaro also hosts seasonal workshops from her Lower East Side shop, and offers a tour through the NYC’s flower market to teach the best insider tricks on how to navigate it. Recently Garden Collage spoke with Porcaro about starting her own business in college, her favorite Lower East Side spots, and her latest inspirations.
GC: How did you get into flowers? Did you grow up gardening?
DP: I was working in the restaurant business towards the end of college, and then continued after receiving my degree in Film, Production Design being my concentration. I started doing flowers for one of the restaurants that I worked for and then I did events for them, as well as for a small group of friends and businesses. I worked under Roberta BenDavid for a short time, and then I realized that I had found myself in a sweet spot.
It was a tough decision but after doing film and flowers for a few years, I dove completely into the flower world in 2004. It was an organic progression.
GC: Did you have a gateway flower? For example, a flower you completely fell in love with that led to a larger love of flowers, or a flower that you tend to zoom in on whenever it’s in season?
DP: I work seasonally– we are blessed with four dramatically different seasons here in New York, so it makes the most sense for many reasons and is usually what our clients want, as well.
GC: How do you keep your creative drive going?
DP: I think it just keeps going on it’s own really. I love what I do, which is a huge part of it– so I rarely find myself bored. I am also a do-er and a creator, so it’s just the norm. I do pull inspiration from the effervescence of NYC, from art to people-watching to food, etc. However, that is pretty much the norm because I grew up here. It keeps me on my toes.
GC: What does a typical, say, Tuesday look like for you?
DP: No such thing… Every day is vastly different, and in owning my own business I tend to wear many hats. I could be found designing at the shop, at the NYC flower market, uptown meeting a client, or upstate on a site-visit. It’s always different.
GC: What are some of your favorite local spots?
DP: I love Russ & Daughter’s Cafe and Estela for meals, and Hortus Nailworks is a favorite for pampering, all in very close proximity to Flower Girl. When you are busy, it helps if it is convenient.
GC: Do you have a favorite garden?
DP: I have a favorite farm– Kinderhook Farm, in upstate NY.
GC: How do you dress for summer weather? How does your summer style differ from your winter style?
DP: In the summer I feel more feminine. Dresses and flowy items and exposed toes. In the winter I tend to feel like I have a uniform — jeans, sweater, boots, repeat.
GC: How would you describe your style? How has it evolved over time?
DP: I like to stay seasonal, effortless, but also to always incorporate a pop or a distinct edge. Something fun and interesting, but usually keeping flowers and my personal style understated and simple.
GC: What are your other floral design influences?
DP: Similar to the question above, art, food, seasons, my peers, travel.
GC: If you could travel to any one destination, floral-wise, where would you go?
DP: This is a big question. It’s a toss up between the NYC Flower Market back in it’s day, the streets of Paris during it’s flower prime, or the rainforests of the tropics where the most exotic and rarest orchids grow.
GC: How does social media affect your business? How do you interact with it?
DP: Social media for Flower Girl has been huge. We have a large presence, following, and therefore voice, which is all pretty awesome! We keep it as real as possible with everything that we post on the Flower Girl platforms. I have a love/hate relationship with social media personally, but I also couldn’t imagine it another way now that we all have been exposed to it. I do often find myself pondering what’s next.
GC: What’s your daily coffee order?
DP: Almond flat white, please!