When we walked up to Karen Stone’s shop, A Sea of Bloom Floral Designs, we were immediately struck by the fun, bright exterior of blue as well as the signature canoe at the front door, overflowing with lovely blooms. Unsurprisingly, Karen’s bubbly personality matches her shop and she views everyone who comes through her shop doors as a new friend!
Karen loves to be involved in her community of Sooke and her shop is filled with original creations by local artists. She is obviously very passionate about her floral creations and her neighbors! This great attitude carries through to her wedding couples and they have plenty of wonderful things to say about their Sea of Bloom experience! And Karen is no slouch in the awards department either having won the BC Wedding Award 2010 for Best Bouquet!
Here’s what you will want to know about this lovely Sooke Main Street flower shop and the many gorgeous weddings Karen has had the honor to grace with her unique creative style.....
All about Karen and the little blue shop......
Karen started off by planting and growing cut flowers which she would sell to wedding designers and florists. Nearly eight years ago, all her friend’s encouraged her to enter her flowers into the local fair and she reaped numerous ribbons and trophies. This unexpected response caused her to take a floral design course in Vancouver. When she returned, she took over as the designer at Sooke Harbour House where she gained experience working with weddings where she was able to work alongside fellow floral designer, Claire.
Fast forward three years when Karen noticed a cute little house right in the center of Sooke that she thought would make a great flower shop. She opened the doors to her shop in May of 2008 and has been a spot of sunshine in town ever since! Karen describes herself as self taught though she also has her diploma from the Canadian Institute of Floral Design and loves attending floral design workshops and events.
While Karen still grows many of the cut flowers in her shop, she now has ten years experience in all areas of floral design and weddings. “I think I have come a long way from planting my first seed, to learning when to harvest a bloom at the optimum time, talking with brides, pricing those flowers, to designing those flowers and to winning an award for my wedding work.”
And she is very aware of what keeps her inspired and coming into her shop every day… “I just love flowers!” It’s a good thing too, since the shop did thirty weddings last year!
A pleasure to work with….
One thing Karen doesn’t have to work hard at is her easy going demeanor. As bride Joelle Bienvenue, married Aug. 20, 2011, described, “I thought Karen was really receptive and easy to work with. I had a vision for my wedding but no real specifics and she really understood and created something even better than I would have ever imagined. She took into consideration all the elements I was wishing for and made it come true.”
Karen laughed when we told her that several of her brides had described her as “calm and accommodating”! But she agrees that experience has helped her to keep creative while working with all the different tastes that couples come up with. “Quality is big for me and that likely comes from the fact that I grow my own flowers. But I also really enjoy keeping a unique look in my work.”
Armitage, married July 16, 2011, agreed about Karen’s ability to find a couple’s look. “We liked her unique and creative options. She worked with us to bring us exactly what we wanted, but still used her creativity mixed with our style to bring us something unique but still "us".
Karen naturally leans towards a vintage, romantic, natural theme. But she is fortunate in that she enjoys the challenge of creating completely different looks. “We get a lot of comments on how we can do traditional, modern and funky designs equally well and that makes me happy. It’s the challenge that makes it exciting!”
Fredrique, of Sooke Harbour House, finds that she “always hears about Karen’s customers mentioning that her flowers are more than beautiful – they also stay nice for a really long time! Likely due to many of them being grown locally.”
As Armitage explained to us, “Karen uses local flowers and adds different elements to her bouquets to make each one unique and interesting. For example, our arrangements were all beautifully asymmetrical with thistles, bamboo or sticks added amongst the flowers to add character.”
Walking through it......
The best way to get in touch with Karen is to email, call or just drop by the ‘blue shop’ to see her. Whether you meet her in person or are a destination bride who will be working online – Karen can get a feel for what you want for your wedding day and give you a quote.
If a couple can come in person for their consultation, Karen says it usually takes about an hour. She finds that couples really enjoy seeing and touching the actual flowers! Armitage, who saw Karen’s work in person, said, “The flower arrangements were unique and beautiful and we decided to get our flowers with Karen at that moment and were not disappointed! “
Karen then gets in touch with the couple a few times between the consultation and the wedding day to confirm delivery and times of ceremony and reception.
On the wedding day, Karen personally delivers to the bride’s and groom’s locations and sets up the floral arrangements at ceremony site. Of course, same day delivery is the most popular! She also will do set-up at the reception, if requested.
Joelle was pleased with Karen’s creations for her day. “The work was fantastic! We met, Karen was able to create just what we were looking for, and I knew we were in good hands. She came in and set up the flowers, and there were no issues at all.”
Armitage, who hired Karen even though her wedding was nowhere near Sooke, was confident and it turned out this confidence was well placed. “Even though they are in Sooke, there were no problems with delivery and the service was extremely convenient with no problems encountered and Karen and her team were a pleasure to work with.”
Fredrique, of Sooke Harbour House, also had glowing remarks on behalf of brides at that venue. “Karen and her staff are really expert in first, listening to what the bride wants, and then with their creativity and great expertise delivering an ever better floral arrangement than expected. I had again this past Saturday a Bride so happy because what she wanted was so perfectly done that she couldn't stop telling everyone that ‘Karen had really outdone herself’!”
Karen’s arbours are truly stunning and seem to come in many styles!
Karen’s involvement and support of the Sooke Fine Art Show which is one of the premiere art exhibition and sales in Western Canada.
The shop is filled with local artists work such as jewelry, cards, perfumes, candles and art. Great local support!
That Karen and her hubby tied the knot in front the A Sea of Bloom shop! Watch the wedding at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg4n5JmDRNA!
The chalkboards on the wall are updated weekly by a local artist. They list all the fresh grown cut flowers available with prices and often include local congrats for events taking place in town!
The modern, yet masculine boutonnieres that Karen creates for the men in the bridal party. If you are looking for the classic rose, she does that beautifully; but if your man rolls his eyes at the thought and you are looking for something different, Karen’s the floral designer for your guy!
Karen’s shell arrangements. She takes a shell and makes gorgeous flowers come out of it. If you are having a beach/ocean theme – just imagine what Karen can do for you!
A Sea of Bloom is a good choice for the green bride. Karen offers organic, locally grown blooms that are transported to her shop in 5 minutes. Now that’s a small footprint!
One of Karen’s favorite parts of doing a wedding is the email, card or phone call she receives afterwards where she hears how much they loved her work!
Details, details, details,
Karen says it’s very difficult to say what an average bride will spend as she custom creates packages for each couple based on their wedding. But Joelle pointed out that, “Prices were fair, and well within our budget. We definitely got our money's worth.” Karen does require a deposit after the initial consultation with the balance paid the week before the wedding. It’s also best to book a few months in advance. But, as she points out, due to the destination weddings in the area, she has also “done flowers with just a phone call in the morning!”
How to reach Karen!