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Nora Rose Mueller

Florist Friday: A Chat With Mina Bolouri of Arjan Flowers & Herbs

Across from Fentons Creamery (better known as the ice cream shop from the end of Pixar’s Up) is a shop filled to the brim with exquisite, enchanting flowers. With the good weather, blossoming paper whites are nestled snugly in boxes outside and wreaths made from kumquat branches hang along the front window. Inside the shop, a dazzling array of colors and textures are displayed on different levels of columns, tables, and shelves. The cut flowers crowded along each are a mix of classic and exotic, gathered in blue glass bottles, greco-roman pots, and heirloom containers.

On one of the tables, Mina Bolouri– the heart and mind behind Arjan Flowers & Herbs— has assembled her arrangements going out the next day. Each is an effortless mix of “unusual juxtapositions,” as she refers to them on her website, with a fullness of character– exciting and unusual, apart from many mainstream designs. Her larger bouquets are wrapped in a sparkling mesh that typifies her curious, eclectic style. There is an old-world quality to Bolouri’s shop, as if her work and materials are drawn from all the riches of antiquity– each is something to be treasured and revered.

Florist Friday ArjanNora Rose Mueller

GC: How did you get into flowers? Did you grow up gardening?

MB: I grew up with a large garden. My mom is a really good gardener so we had a large garden. But I didn’t do much except, let’s say, destroy the garden as a little kid. [laughs] I grew up around nature. There were lots of gardens in the city [Shiraz in Iran] I grew up in. I named the shop, actually, after the canyon outside of my hometown [Dasht-e-Arjan]. When I moved to this country, I just happened to need a job and I was drawn to working with flowers. I did it and I ended up having my own business!

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?

MB: It changes every season. There are certain flowers I always go crazy over. I grew up with lots of narcissus, genestra, fritillaria, and things like that. Of course, whenever I see them it takes me back to my childhood, so I have a special bond with them. But honestly, I love working with flowers and seeing different flowers. 

Florist Friday ArjanNora Rose Mueller

GC: How do you keep your creative drive going?

MB: Museums—I really like paintings and sculptures, and I really like rugged nature. I would say my creation comes from nature and art, rather than anything else.

GC: What does a typical, say, Tuesday look like for you?

MB: Tuesday is the first day of the week for us, so it’s basically organizing everything, making sure our accounts are taken care of and that the next day we are prepared for whatever is happening throughout the week.

GC: What are some of your favorite local spots?

MB: I go all over the place, I have to tell you. [laughs] I’m not the type to repeat something that much—obviously, if I like a business or a spot I will go and visit again. But I like to explore new places. To make a long story short, I’m not a creature of habit.

Florist Friday ArjanNora Rose Mueller

GC: Do you have a favorite garden?

MB: Many of them, many of them. As I said, I grew up in a city with many formal gardens. One of the gardens that I really like—in my hometown—is called Eram. Among the local gardens that I really like is Filoli in Palo Alto. As for parks, I really like the Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Point Reyes Station.

GC: How would you describe your style? How has it evolved over time?

MB: It’s a very old German style. Most people are not familiar with it. With the British style they put—in my opinion—way too many textural items together. The French stay with kind of a clean look. I love working with color and texture; our style is somewhere in between.

GC: How do you dress for summer weather? How does your summer style differ from your winter style?

MB: I have to say—it’s just less layers! [laughs] For me, comfort is the main thing. I have to tell you—I like to dress up. So if I’m not working, most people don’t recognize me. But if I’m working, comfort is the main thing for me. Many people look at the outcome of our work and they think it is so romantic and clean. It’s not. The outcome is romantic but the job itself is very physical. Flowers are dirty so your hands get cut. You work with sharp objects so your shoes are always very chunky. You bend and lift heavy stuff.

When you look at my arrangements, you see lots of colors—I’m not afraid of color. I like making colorful arrangements. But I’m not like that in my clothing. I get my satisfaction with colors from working with them, rather than putting them on. [laughs]

Florist Friday ArjanNora Rose Mueller

GC: What are your other floral design influences?

MB: Again—it’s nature. Nature and art. When I visit a client’s office or house, I usually try to talk to them about their lifestyle or what sort of art is in their [space]. Yet I am not a very matchy-matchy person. Not at all. I look at the colors, I look at the art, and I use that to inspire me rather than guide me to do something. Let’s say the color of the room is yellow—I will not necessarily go with yellow flowers, just because there’s already enough yellow! But then green will look very beautiful, or orange will look very beautiful with yellow—and that actually helps the flowers to stand out.

GC: If you could travel to any one destination, floral-wise, where would you go?

MB: Amsterdam.

GC: How does social media affect your business? How do you interact with it?

MB: We do [have social media accounts]. I’m not very drawn to it. I’m a little bit more old-fashioned in that way. Most of our work [comes about via] word of mouth, rather than social media.

GC: Coffee order?

MB: Just espresso, with some milk, in the morning—and a cup of tea in the afternoon.

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