Read The Current Issue
By Elizabeth Clair Flood ∙ Photography by Ashley Merritt
For Emily Lacoste, the new owner of Lily & Co., a bucket of flowers inspires so many possibilities. “If flowers are sitting loosely in a bucket, they are there to be used, to be styled,” she says. What Lacoste decides to use and how she arranges blooms depends on the customer and her imagination. On a daily basis, she creates art with blossoms, making choices about color and placement.
“I arrange flowers differently all the time. I personalize everything,” she says. “I think to myself, ‘This flower is for so and so because she is kind of artsy,’ or, ‘This flower is for another customer because she is more traditional.’ ” As Lacoste arranges blooms she is careful not to judge herself or her choices. “The minute I start to critique every stem placement is when I lose my creativity,” she says.
For Lacoste, flower arranging is a new art form and passion. She started at Lily & Co. in 2010, when it was still owned by founder Sarajane Johnson. “I was a hostess at Sidewinders [American Grill], but wanted a job in entertaining,” she says. Flower arranging, she admits, wasn’t in entertainment and neither was it her expertise—Lacoste had never done it before—but she was curious and willing to work hard and learn.
“I think to myself, ‘This flower is for so and so because she is kind of artsy,’ or, ‘This flower is for another customer because she is more traditional.’ ”
[ Emily lacoste, owner of lily & co. ]
“Everything I’ve learned about flower arrangement I learned at Lily & Co.,” she says. For years, the shop, located just off the Town Square, offered chic bouquets, baby gifts, and stylish home accessories, as well as wedding flowers and design. Under Johnson’s guidance, Lacoste learned the art and science of styling flowers for individuals and events. “She taught me not to cut the stems too short, that everyone likes something different, and that no two flowers are the same and no two arrangements are the same,” Lacoste says. “She also taught me to have fun and don’t take the arrangements too seriously.”
Early art classes also influenced Lacoste’s design and process. “Art classes taught me to imagine things at a young age. I started at six,” she says. Throughout elementary and high school, she continued with special art programs where she worked with charcoal, pastels, and oils.
“We learned it all,” she says. “What I learned about using colors and how to make them pop has really helped me in my floral design.”
Lacoste likes to use greens as a base. She then begins to add flowers—dusty pink garden roses, colorful ranunculus, peonies, purple delphiniums, blue and white lisianthus, sunflowers—that come from around the world. Lacoste herself loves traditional bouquets, like ones with hydrangeas or garden roses. She also does looser and more whimsical arrangements, perhaps including a feather or two, or a single budding branch. Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot have featured Lacoste’s work. Almost immediately after looking at a bride’s Pinterest or listening to her describe her perfect wedding, Lacoste can imagine the day—and its flowers—in her head, like a painter imagines a painting.
Just don’t ask her to pick a favorite flower. “I change my mind depending on what day of the week it is and what we have. I love them all,” Lacoste says. “I love texture. I love fillers like berries, grasses, pods, and buds.” She never dislikes a flower because she never knows when its design or shape will be just the thing her art needs.