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Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 ~ You sure did a number on some of us monkey.

Hi friends,

Like many of you, I'm happy to see 2016 in my rear view.  I've never seen such a collective hate on for a year gone by. The monkey was relentless. Yet despite the crappy bits, there were actually some incredible triumphs and discoveries. We moved into our dream farmhouse with a wedding venue, what could be wrong?! For me it was a year of extremes. Great successes mixed in with monumental challenges and a slice of anguish on the side. I watched my friends struggling too, not everyone, but some of us took a wild ride through the spin cycle. I learned that without the tribulations this past year, I'd have no chance for future success. Sometimes you have to burn it all down to see what's salvageable. I fear my business and my personal life could have suffered greatly had I not been forced to dig deeper than I ever have before. Taking stock of what is working in your life is quite a thing, but to actually unearth the shit that is catastrophic, to shine a light on the darkest parts, that is something entirely different.  It feels like an actual page has turned, or rather an entire chapter has ended and I'm so hopeful and excited about 2017.  I've always been transparent with my readers, sometimes I fear being too honest but I don't know how else to be. This blog started out as a way for my Mom to catch up on the goings on in my life and business and so I wrote it as though we were having an intimate phone conversation. Over the years a few thousand or so of you started reading but I couldn't change the way I wrote, every time I edited myself it became inauthentic, pinched.  So here it is, my heart on my sleeve, authentic me, this one's for you... and my Mom.

                                                                                   (a few highlights from the year)

Since moving to the County full time after Hattie was born, I took a huge leap of faith prepping the business for my TO team to manage. Over the last 7 years we've seen some major growth but particularly the last 2.5 years. There is some serious truth behind the idea that it's impossible to grow your business from 'behind the counter.' The best decision I've ever made was to hire a manager. I've always been blessed with landing crazy talented human beings who help the business evolve, challenge me, challenge themselves and create beauty on a daily basis. If you follow Coriander Girl then you are well aware of our "all star" cast. You know who the people are who've helped make this company great. I make it a point to credit my designers, as I believe everyone deserves acknowledgement. Sure it gives people a platform to go off on their own but heck, it's a new world and I'm not sure the old rules apply. Most recently we shared the news that Tellie Hunt would be leaving us to pursue her own business. This decision didn't come easy for me. For those of you who own businesses, you understand it's a constant juggling act. No matter how successful you get, the juggling never stops, the balls just get bigger. So while attempting to juggle my increasingly large lady balls, I realized the task wasn't getting easier and the stakes just kept getting higher. From the County, I was observing my TO team crushing it but still feeling the impossible weight of responsibility. It's one thing to carry the weight when it's your own baby but it's quite another to expect your employees to do it. Inarguably I've always been fair to my people, and in that fairness, I knew it was time for Tellie to pursue her own endeavours and fortunately she agreed. Without question, she did an amazing job, gave her heart to my company and you all know the caliber of beauty that came out of the wedding studio over the last couple of years. The thing that needs to be addressed however, and with total respect for Tellie, is that she wasn't an army of one. On any given day, we had upwards of 3 to 5 employees in the wedding department. We've heard a few rumours that because our weddings manager is leaving, this is the end of our wedding team,  but that's quite an insult to the incredibly talented people who still remain. Deanna Balmer is a wildly talented designer and deserves an award for the endless hours and heart she's given this company. Elena as well as Alexandra and Mal all worked tirelessly to help get the job done and of course the unwavering support of Coriander Dad/contractor/wedding set up guy/caterer/delivery dude extraordinaire.  Recently we've welcomed another lovely crew member, Marilou, her designs are cray-zy. These talented, inspired women, are led by the incomparable Amira Shabason (who has been with the company for three years, two of which were spent as Tellie's right hand at the wedding studio.) They've earned their cred and are nothing short of amazing. Together we all wish Tellie well as she embarks on the wildest most exciting ride of her life in business ownership, she deserves every success.


I've made the choice to close our retail location in Toronto because the reality is I'm not there, 90% of our sales are now by phone or email and our wedding department is all consuming. The shop front tends to steal so much time from the pile of orders accumulating throughout the day, our staff ends up having to stay hours after close because they can't get to the work. I have struggled with this decision, lay awake contemplating reasons why it's a good or bad idea but remember the part above about "employees feeling the impossible weight of responsibility..." it's time to secure the foundation properly before adding another floor. Undeniably though, it was the local love and support from our favourite neighbourhood walk ins that put us on the map long before Instagram likes and we're forever grateful. The thing is, moving into the expansive studio space on Florence allows us so many more options. We'll still be accessible on certain days, we're planning regular shop and pop-up events to satisfy the folks who need to touch and feel the produce. And we aren't going far, just a couple of blocks away from 1604. The amalgamation of the two spaces will alleviate a myriad of issues that have developed over the years and will create an even stronger opportunity for efficiency and growth. We'll be able to focus on providing a broader selection of locally grown blooms from our favourite local farmers and bring you the very best of our talents. In the words of the great Martha Stewart, "It's a good thing."



So please, if you still have questions we welcome your emails to hello@coriandergirl.com or pec@coriandergirl.com We want to help you understand the changes and leave no question unanswered. We're making the transition over to the studio this month. All month long we'll be having shop sales at 1604 to lighten the load before we do our final move. We'll also be unveiling a more user friendly website with online shopping! I never thought I'd say those words! I remember when I first left the TO location and moved to the county. My girls would call and say, "customers are asking for you." And then those same customers quickly realized talented people were there in my place and happy to serve them. Perhaps I need to add an "s" on the end of Coriander Girl because it's never been one person alone, not EVER. It's the collected efforts of many who make this company great and in it's continuing evolution my sole responsibility is to remain consistent in beauty, that's what I can promise you. I believe Now Magazine called us "Best Florist" this year for a reason, we're not going anywhere;)



From my deepest truth,  I have never been more grounded or more clear headed about the direction of my business. I've never been happier or more stable feeling in my personal life. Tyler and I will welcome our second babe this summer and we are over the moon for Hattie to have a sister or a brother. Thank you dear friends, your kindness, love and support is felt from all over this incredible world. I get your messages! I love reading about your experiences in this crazy business and although I can't always respond promptly, I will try harder this year. I'm always amazed that anyone wants my advice, half the time I feel like I'm dangling off the edge of a cliff! We're all flailing at some point or another and once in awhile, for a minute, we might make it look effortless.

                                                                                                         (to the new world)

If you or someone you know is looking to rent a beautiful space on Queen St. Please send your inquiries to pec@coriandergirl.com and tell me all about yourself. The space is available as of February 1st.

2017 here we come with hope and love blazing strong in our hearts.

Alison xo

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NOW Magazine ~ Best Florist in TO!!!

How do we begin to express our gratitude? We can't even... Can't EVEN!!! One thing is for certain, it took 7 years to get here and I didn't do it alone. From our incredible employees to the flower growers, local farmers, our relationships with other industry professionals, photographers and event space coordinators. I have been surrounded by an army of immeasurable talent. My family, Tyler and Hattie inspire me daily. Every employee/freelancer and of course Coriander Dad has contributed to this lovely triumph so stand up and give yourself a slow clap!
Coriander Girl feels like the little shop that could. If you've followed our journey, you remember how tiny the first shop was yet despite it's size and the lack of social media we made big waves in the early days. We've celebrated some pretty exciting milestones since 2009. We moved to a bigger location, hired a super talented weddings manager, opened a wedding studio, opened a second location in Prince Edward County, and recently bought a farm with a 200 year old church to host Coriander Weddings and Events. These business decisions were huge leaps of faith and truly inspired by the network of love that surrounds me on a daily basis.
The future is looking so sparkly. We've always championed local growers but for 2017 we want even more, especially for our wedding clients. We'll be honing in on intimate gatherings with the emphasis on offering a one of a kind bespoke floral experience. We're also unveiling the wedding venue in PEC this coming Spring where I'll be focusing my efforts. At our Toronto location, the oh so lovely and talented Amira Shabason will continue to hold fort as manager extraordinaire. The images shown here are from a creative Amira did a couple of weeks ago, every time she designs I can just hear the flowers cheering, "pick me, pick me!" She has a rare and special gift. Together we're working on some really cool projects for TO and we can't wait to share them as they unfold.
If this is the first time you're learning about us, there are a few things we want you to know. We care about people first, We believe in nurturing relationships from the farm to the vase and we know without question this kind of practise finds its way into our designs. Cheesy as that may sound, pass the triple cream brie!! Thank you so so much for voting for us guys! Thank you to my 2 year old daughter Hattie for reminding me and my husband Tyler that's its about the love, and eating more pancakes. For a long time it felt like I was climbing up hill with boulders strapped to my back and then I started developing my crew who helped carry some of that weight. Today I am so grateful. I didn't think it was possible to feel more love and support, but I do! Because of YOU, I feel like I just grew some bad ass lightening bolts and it's only seconds to the moon. Weeeeeeeeeeee! Much love, Alison xo Photographs by Danijela Pruginic Danijelaweddings.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Let's get down with some moody blooms for fall






We just got back some insanely beautiful photos from the oh so talented Purple Tree Photography of a styled shoot we did earlier this year. Although this arrangement is packed full of spring blooms I just could not resist sharing as it makes me want to put on a nice smokey toned sweater and have a chai tea latte. Agree?
Stay cozy - Tellie

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ethereal Silk Styled Shoot






























We are so proud of this shoot and to be a part of such an incredible theme. When Alex of Blush and Bowties came to us with this magical idea for a styled shoot we just could not resist. This is what our dreams are made of and we couldn't have done it without such an amazing team.



Ethereal Styled Shoot at District 28 from Outside In Studio on Vimeo.



















Planner/Designer/Calligraphy: Blush + Bowties
Instagram: @blushandbowties
Twitter @blushandbowties

Photographer: Artiese Studios
Instagram: artiesestudios

Cinematography: Outside In
Instagram: @outsideinstudio
Twitter @outsideinstudio

Venue: District 28 
Instagram: @d28events
Twitter: @district28TO

Cakes: Amanda Foong Cakes
Instagram: @amandafoongcakes

Twitter: @afcakes

Dress: LoversLand
Instagram: @loversland

Twitter: @shoploversland

Dress Designer: Dan Jones Unbridaled 
Instagram: @unbridaledbydanjones

Flowers: Coriander Girl 
Instagram: @coriandergirl @thelittleflorist

Twitter: @coriandergirl

Chairs/Linens: Simply Beautiful Decor 
Instagram: @simplybeautifuldecor

Twitter: @district28TO

Napkins/Runners/Ribbon: Silk and Willow
Instagram: @silkandwillow
Twitter: @silkandwillow

Plates, cutlery, candlesticks, goblets, trays: Plate Occasions
Instagram: @plateoccasions
Twitter: @plateoccasions

Hair and Makeup: Bespoke Beauty 
Instagram: @bespokebeautyinc

Twitter: @bespokebeautyto

Friday, April 8, 2016

It's been a long time friends!

Hi…hiiiiiii. 
It’s been a loooong time since I’ve written one of these, maybe even like two years long so 
here goes, might get a little windy! I don't mean gassy, you get what I mean! Ha! 
I actually really miss writing almost everyday. When I first opened 7 years ago there was ample time for blogging and the Coriander Bits, but not so much anymore. This week having been bed ridden with the ol' plague, I've got time!  

So, what’s new?! 
For those of you who know me, you know I don’t stay idle for long. Apparently, I like a challenge, the bigger the risk the greater the reward and so I run face first at it!
Coriander Girl has been the single most challenging/rewarding entity in my life that nothing prior could have ever prepared me for, a steep uphill climb is an understatement but I always felt the wind at my back and a village cheering me on. 

Do you know the story? I like to tell it as often as possible because it reminds me of all the beauty in this world. I was that wide eyed child of 30 claiming that if we could build it, they would come. It didn’t matter that I signed a lease with only $50 to my name, I had heart and I knew if I could just get the doors open the rest would fall into place. Why was I so broke at the time? My bartending job at the ACC was seasonal and I hadn't had an acting gig in quite some time so the funds were dangerously low. Sometimes those moments of desperation help spur major change. It was either find a new job or make something happen. The women I admired most were out there taking names! It was my turn to step up or settle in to someone else's plan. 
So there I went, I wrote a wildly optimistic business plan and approached my Nana for a loan, that was after every bank in Ontario laughed me out the door. With my face held tight in her hands and tears in our eyes she looked intense, “how much do you need?!” 
I could have said anything I suppose, but I asked to borrow ten grand. I guess I really do like a challenge. After a meeting with Dad to discuss the reno we were flying. 'Coriander Dad,' as you know, has a way of making anything feel achievable. With all hands on deck we opened the doors a month later, Nana helped cut the ribbon.  

When I think back on those early days, I’m amazed we got through it, Tyler and I. 
We sacrificed a lot after we were married. We slept on the shop floor for a time, endless late nights for me. Always the last shop to lock up for the night and the first one there in the morning. Being a lady boss is full of impossible expectations and you just have to soldier through because you believe in it and because...well…you have no other choice. Ultimately, I believed that one day things would get easier and the strife would be worth it. I’m not going to lie, there were days I felt like a scared little mole in the dark, (some of you will appreciate this reference;) Each new experience as a business owner helping guide future choices, mostly not wanting to make the same mistake twice but sometimes you do anyway. With the addition of incredible lady crew members, Tellie Hunt, Amira Shabason we've turned a corner. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in business is letting go, let good people do what they do best and I'm not allowed to set the prices. Apparently in another life I ran a very charitable organization. This was a revelation, getting out of my employees way so they could do their jobs. I also encourage their own identities within the company. I’m sure there are a million schools of thought against this idea but I’ve got to listen to my gut on this one.  
As we grow, we’ve had good folks come and go from the crew, I learned a lot from my experiences with our employees.  Our team has settled in now like a well worn pair of jeans and we’ve got good reliable freelancers on the side to help when needed. At some point over the last 7 years floristry became really cool and so we’re blessed to have such an incredible resource of talented designers to choose from.  

After giving birth to our daughter 2 years ago this June, I thought I was slowing down by moving to the county, but remember when I said I don’t stay idle for long? It only took 2 months of pushing a stroller along main street to find a place just begging for Coriander Girl PEC. 
The thing is, believe it or not, the drive in me comes from a deep desire to simplify. I know my actions might seem like a contradiction but trust me, there is a method to what seems like total and utter madness. 
And that brings us to Water Road in Sophiasburgh, Prince Edward County. 
We saw this property on MLS almost 3 years ago. I literally gasped and quite possibly cried tears as I shouted to Tyler from another room, “I found our house!! It has a church on the property!!!” I dreamt of how this could be the evolution of Coriander Girl, hosting small ceremonies and workshops. I imagined us raising our family there, riding our bikes along the county roads, late night fires with friends. Truly a dream because our reality could not afford it and so I had to put it out of my mind…well sort of. 
A few years later, a baby, a newly opened Coriander PEC and a flourishing Coriander Toronto, we were just barely in a position to look at Water Road but it was still available! I probably had no business looking at it, but remember that thing I mentioned about heading face first into a challenge?
We saw the property on a very crisp day last February. John Brisley, darling owner and preservationist, met us in the lane and he walked us through sharing stories along the way of the incredible move and rebuild. Both the home and church are from different parts of Ontario! The Brisley’s are serious preservationists and have devoted their lives to restoration. I cried tears again as I approached the front door, “It’s our house,” I whispered. We left and we knew we had to try, but this deal was going to take a miracle of sorts. I’m a firm believer in Karma, and if there ever was a time I needed to cash one in, the time was now. Picture a montage of moments, let's add a sound track...(That's what friends are for ~ Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Elton John) Okay here's me helping cute older ladies up streetcar steps, giving my seat up on the subway, that time I waited in the pouring rain to hail a taxi for a pregnant woman wearing impossible shoes and a ridiculous amount of groceries, “Stilettos on a Tuesday morning at Fresh Co? You're my hero lady.”  It was going to take more than convincing the bank to take a chance on me. I needed angels this time. 
Well..a miracle happened, angels came! (And you know who you are.) We closed on March 16th, 2016 after months and months…and months of any and every possible kind of hoop I needed to hop through, I hopped. Picture me, bobbing and weaving and hopping and slopping my way through a real estate obstacle course that would make any MLS junkie’s head pop right off. I thought I was seasoned but this was next level shizzle. Derrick Morgan, Libby Crombie, Shelagh Mathers, and James Bar you're all geniuses. I gambled slightly on one of the conditions. I can say it now but there is a reason I didn’t sleep much in 2015. We needed to sell our house in order to close the deal but I waived that condition because I believed it would happen swiftly. Didn’t matter that some houses on our street had been for sale for years, our buyers were out there! Thanks to Johnny Lam, the cutest couple in the land saw the beautiful pics and bought the house only 3 weeks after being on the market. Foolishly or brilliantly I tend to not think about the 'what if’s.' 

So, here I sit, writing this from my newly appointed lady space. It’s a room all my own, looking out across a field of wheat-y looking grasses and glorious trees, a stream trickles in the distance. A place to dream. I’m surrounded by the things that bring me joy, a desk, a comfortable chair, a few crystals, my fierce bunnies, a perfect portrait of Tyler taken just around that sweet spot when we knew we were falling in love and didn’t need food or sleep so he’s kind of heroine chic. Speaking of sleep, Hattie is asleep in the next room. Knowing we’re home now, I think we're all sleeping better than we have in years. I feel like I can exhale for the first time in a long time, not that I don't have to continue to hustle but the last couple of years have been ridiculously hard. 
For me, this home is an opportunity to really dig in, literally I can dig in the soil for days. And what's better, Tyler can come on board with his music and food and hospitality background. Together we want to make magic here. We're aiming for 2017 to be fully operational. I'm currently working on the business model for the event space and this summer we'll test it out with a few events/workshops. For any inquiries you can email pec@coriandergirl.com. 


So, you wanna see it?! Let me show you around. 



This 200 year old colonial was lovingly numbered, dismantled board by board and then moved all the way from Cobourg to this lovely 12 acre parcel of land in Sophiasburgh. John and Diane Brisley are extraordinary people, dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings. It's an honour for us to carry the torch and celebrate these monuments for years to come. Lucky for us, the Brisley's remain our neighbours living just across the street in the Demille house built in 1818. Diane baked an apple pie to welcome us last week and soup and cornbread showed up yesterday, we could get used to this;) 


This church originally resided in Adolphustown. The Brisley's read in the paper it was going to be burned down and they rescued her, moving it to the same property on Water Road. Lovely fact, my friend Alex Fida and his Dad helped rebuild this church and Alex helped build the dry stone wall. 


The stone wall was built later as it's reminiscent of the cemetery on the original church property. This would be a perfect spot to toast a glass of Hinterland after a wedding ceremony don't you think?


A log cabin was also rescued and added to the back of the Cobourg house, it's now are kitchen.


Here's my office. When Tyler and I moved in we ran around the house and chose our own office/music/craft rooms, that was too much fun. It turns out my room is the warmest in the house,  a very happy accident. 




Looking out at the wilds from my office window.   


Believe the hype, Prince Edward County is a special place.  The folks here are true gems, both the locals and transplants have proven to be some of the most kind and supportive people I've ever met. It's truly a beautiful place and I'm honoured to call it home. It's always been Tyler's home so he laughs when I go on and on about it but I can't help it, I'm in love with where we live. I wish my Nan could see it but she passed away this winter. I imagined her there the day we moved in, cutting the ribbon as we crossed the threshold. I know she's cheering us on. 
I can't wait to show you all what we have planned. Thank you to everyone for your continued love and encouragement. Coriander Girl thrives because of your mighty hearts!  

Alison xo 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Our Wedding Studio Has Moved!

Hello dear brides,
We (and our thighs) are so thrilled to announce that we have moved from the 2nd floor at 77 Florence St. to the 1st! This means no more lugging your blooms up three flights of stairs on the fire escape which we cannot be happier about. As you may already know, all meetings wedding related (unless otherwise told) will take place at 77 Florence St. and, as of April 5th will be in unit 107. To access this unit, you can park on the street, walk to the east parking lot of 77 Florence St. and knock on our door! We cannot wait to continue to grow and make flower magic in our new (more conveniently located) wedding studio.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Wedding Co Market

Hey dear brides and wedding enthusiasts!
We are so excited to see you at The Wedding Co. Market this Sunday along with the coolest vendors in the city.