Andreana Bitsis

Meet Rosehip Social, The Floral Design Studio Bringing Lush, Textured Arrangements to Williamsburg

On an unassuming stretch of Graham Avenue in the cultural hotbed that is Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Rosehip Social occupies a beautiful space– the likes of which are desperately needed in a city often lacking in vegetation. Pola Rebisz-Kraeger is the floral design expert behind the unique florist and plant shop, which specializes in lush, textured, garden-style arrangements with the rare addition of a workable backyard “garden” that the owner uses to source filler flowers for her arrangements.

Andreana Bitsis

“My style yields itself to a variety of textures,” says Rebisz-Kraeger, who lives above her business and small backyard garden. “In summertime it’s pretty bonkers– we have a bunch of different boxes and raised beds of filler plants and more delicate blooms to use as accent flowers, like zinnias,” she says. “Things you don’t come across too often in the commercial flower trade.” Rosehip Social’s eclectic style and timeless elegance has won praise from bridal magazines to walk-ins alike– the shop, at once inviting and warm (much like Rebisz-Kraeger herself) is filled with a variety of vessels and unique finds sourced from all over the NorthEast, from vintage shops in Brooklyn to flea markets in New Hampshire.

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With peak holiday and wedding season behind us, GC spoke with Rebisz-Kraeger about wedding trends, flower recycling, and her adorable young son, who has become the unspoken mascot of her family-run business.

GC: You have a ton of beautiful greenery floating around the studio. From where do you source your flowers?

PRK: We buy a lot of the flowers from 20th Street wholesalers [in the New York Flower District], and then we get some of it from California, shipped direct from the growers. It just really depends. There’s a place on Long Island that we get some of our flowers from– but really they come from all over the place, including my backyard, because I grow a lot of weird little things there. Some of this greenery is actually from the backyard– this is my happy little garden. We grow flowers and greens and use it to source sticks and other little details. [Gesturing to some hops.] These are all hops I use for arrangements, and then boutonnieres. They grow 20, 30 feet up in the air. Everything here’s for decoration, but then also for use as accents weddings. I can’t grow anything in substantial quantity, but little things, like little accents, make all the difference and it feels more organic that way.

GC: What questions do people ask you when they approach you to do flowers for their weddings?

PRK: We usually try to ask them for any sort of visual inspiration, just because the word “pretty” is super subjective; it’s impossible to interpret. And everybody these days seem to hit on “rustic wildflower” and “romantic” in the same sentence and then you’re just like, ‘What? What is it you actually mean by this? What is your eye drawn to?’

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We love Pinterest. Sometimes you get 900 images and it’s a little difficult to interpret all of that inspiration, but most of the time you get to see a common thread that goes through them, and you’re like, OK, well I see why this client likes what they do. And after that it’s just a lot of communication. I had one client who wanted what they described it as “un-pretty flowers”. It was kind of difficult to interpret at first because I was like “You want ugly flowers?”  She’s like, “I want ugly flowers.” I said, OK. Let’s try to figure out what you mean. Ultimately, she wanted something unusual and pokey, with interesting textures instead of soft, conventionally pretty tones.

We have many, many meetings, and most of them tend to be over the phone. Sometimes on Skype, and sometimes in person, but there’s a lot of back and forth– just to kind of get an understanding and get into the clients’ heads so that I can interpret what they want and then give it to them. Wedding flowers are tough, but fun.

GC: What is some advice you would give people who are planning a wedding who are going to a florist?

PRK: Definitely make a Pinterest board. I find it’s difficult for clients to nail down what their exact look will be from one image, because nobody really wants to replicate another wedding that’s been done. But if you grab, let’s say something like 20 images, it will help you also filter down what it is that you like. Because when you first start the research, you want everything. And everything’s interesting and everything’s beautiful, but more they do research on their own, the more their vision funnels down and narrows into something that they actually love at the core. Once that’s prepared, then go to meet with the florist– ’cause a lot of times we’ll get an email or a request for further information, and then everything can be changed last minute– the cake, the approximate number of guests, the dimensions of the vessels. Know approximately what it is that you’re looking for, because your florist needs to be aware of what it is that you’re looking for and what context they’ll be working in.

For instance, there are a few venues that put nothing on the tables except for the glasses that you order or whatever.  A few of them put two bottles of wine, a bottle of ketchup, some A1 sauce, peppers and salt thingies, and you’ve got a thousand things on the table, so you just kind of have to know what you’re working with. And obviously, if you want flowers for the bridal party, know approximately how many. If you want to make, for instance, a statement piece– whether it’s at the bar, or whether it’s a welcome table with escorts, you don’t have to know exactly what you want, but as long as you have a general idea of what you’re looking for we can give you an idea of what your budget can get you. So, come with a general idea of what you want and how much you’re willing to spend, and we can work to put it together.

Andreana Bitsis

GC: What are some floral wedding trends that you’re currently seeing?

PRK: I’ve definitely observed a trend towards paring things down– eucalyptus and white flowers– things that look nice and robust without it being a production. Having everything green is a huge, huge trend that I’ve seen. Candle-lit atmosphere with a tremendous amount of foliage with white flowers or pale flowers with wildflowers and herbs. People are also very into floating centerpieces– it’s a little crazy to make, but so fun!

GC: What do you do with leftover flowers after an event? Have you heard of “flower recycling”?

PRK: I’ve never used any of those services before, but we have donated flowers to different things, like sometimes we can bring them to a church, or to a retirement development, or to art galleries in Bushwick. But it’s hard, because ICU units can’t always take them because of the chemicals that can be on the flowers, and businesses don’t want them because they don’t want to deal with disposing of them– but lately we’ve been donating them to my sister-in-law’s nursery school, and the kids love them; they dip the roses in paint and smash them and use them as stencils, so it’s really cute– such a violent way to treat such a beautiful flower! [Laughs] But the kids love it– and it’s so fun.

We also encourage people to take the stuff because, I feel like it makes somebody else’s day a little bit happier, a little bit brighter.

GC: How is managing all this with baby?

PRK: Not bad, not bad. It just requires help and logistics, and multifaceted help. It’s been interesting.  Like when I found out we were pregnant, and we’re having a baby, I had two weddings booked for that weekend when [he] was due and I was like ….hahaha. When the weekend came, we were at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and putting a wedding together in that venue. It’s a cool venue. It’s really dark– very Rock n’ Roll. But I was freaking out. Putting the boutonnieres on the Groomsmen, they were looking at me, and I’m giant– like a full 9 months pregnant– and I’m just like do-do-do-do-do, running up and down the stairs.  Immediately after that, my water broke and I was like oh, time to go the hospital. So the bride’s like, “Yay! Congratulations!”  And I’m like, “Oh my god, I’ve got a wedding tomorrow!” But it worked out, everything was fine. All the pieces were in place, everybody was ready to go, everybody knew, but it was hysterical. It was like sitcom. Now that he’s about a year and a half old, he hangs out at the shop a lot. He’s figured out that he gets a lot of attention when he gives flowers to people, so he’ll go over to the fridge, grab a flower, and give it to people and say, “Thank you!” It’s really cute.

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GC: Do you have a favorite flower?

PRK: It’s so boring, but I love roses. I like everything about them. The sheer variety, the fact that they’re just so beautiful. They’re a strong flower, but they can also be very fragile… There’s just something about them that’s very charming. And I don’t know, but I feel like I understand them. I understand how they open, I understand what it takes to make them happy, I understand how to make them really pop, how to make them beautiful, whether they need warmth, whether I need to cool them…I feel like I understand their temperament. They come in such a variety of colors and sizes and shapes, they smell nice, and then I absolutely love rosehips– that’s why I named my company after them. This is a good environment to be in– full of nature, green. It’s nice to be surrounded by green in the city, let alone beautiful flowers. It’s a happy world.

Rosehip Social is located at 379 Graham Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. For business hours and inquires, visit their website.

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