The Art of Paper Flowers
An Interview with Linda Dodge
Hi Linda! Thanks for joining us. Tell us about your passion.
I discovered my passion and hidden talent for the art of paper flowers when my daughter got engaged and we started planning for her wedding. We wanted it to be as beautiful as we could make it while keeping it within our budget. I was so intrigued by the paper flower walls I had seen that I knew we had to make one ourselves.
I called my friend Charlotte to see if she was up for a challenge. I designed the petal patterns and we hand-cut, glued, and built a 12' by 8' gorgeous flower wall over a 5-month period. It was so much fun seeing it come to life. When the wedding was over, I knew that I was not ready to stop making the paper flowers.
Let's face it, my husband would only let me hang so many flowers in our home.
This is how, Linda Grace Paper Florist came to be.
It’s not just a business, It’s a labor of love for the joy of sharing my blooms with others.
Tell us about your childhood. When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you 'grew up'?
A flight attendant. I wanted to be glamorous and travel the world.
Share a fond memory from that time in your life.
I was very close to my "Memere Grace" (grandmother) and have so many fond memories of spending time with her. This story always makes me chuckle. I remember running into the cottage with a leech (yes, I said leech) on my foot to my grandmother; who was sitting at the table that sat about 20 people. I remember my grandmother and I running circles around the table and of her trying to catch me in my panic to save me from this horrible black creature. Years later, I learned she was actually running away from me!
Family is everything! I grew up in a family that was very affectionate with lots of hugs and kisses even when we had seen each other only the day before.
That's such a great story! Tell us about your flowers. What makes them unique?
I have my own style and pride myself on the attention-to-detail for each and every flower I make. They are not just cookie-cutter flowers. I hand cut my petals and shape them individually to create a bloom with multiple layers and a beautiful center that moves me. I enjoy having the ability to bring to life the client's vision.
Where do you get your inspiration? From Pinterest? Or magazines?
I’ll look a little on Pinterest but I also find that I have my own style. Such as the white flowers, they are some of my favorites. I’ve got a few of those flowers mounted on a wall in a local boutique.
It was so satisfying when a neighbor mentioned seeing my flowers at a boutique. She immediately recognized my work!
Bringing the client's vision to life.
My client has the freedom to choose from an extensive palette of colors and styles. I love the challenge of complementing paper colors and styles for fabrics, nurseries and weddings. I have expanded the manner of presentation for my flowers and now offer a rental backdrop that can be customized for any occasion. They’re pretty easy to hang. For example, I had a client who wanted to make her own backdrop but she didn’t want it up all the time. She wanted it to be easy. All of these have hooks and you can actually just hang them up with command hooks. So let’s say you’ve got a daughter, when you’re cleaning up the party and you want to get rid of the backdrop, rehang the flowers in your kids rooms! It’s decor for them and now you have somewhere you can do your live shots (on Social Media).
Tell us about the flowers! How do custom flowers compare to real flowers?
One of the best parts of our creations is that we're motivated by the creative spirit and strive to make each individual flower combination unique for each customer.
The flower designs and colors we choose are combinations that we'd be happy to showcase in our own homes and you always have the ability to preview the set before purchasing to make sure it will look great in your home as well. With that mind, we're very happy to put together a beautiful combination to your specifications. We apply a small surcharge for custom orders because the difficulty/time to create the flowers varies and some paper colors are more costly than others. If you'd like to choose individual flower designs or want a custom color collection of 5 shades of pink but maybe not 50 shades of grey, we're up to the task.
When you started out, who did you hire to help you?
It's been a family and friends affair so far. It's a good thing they love me!
What would you say are some perks of being self-employed?
Being self-employed affords me time to spend with my family with the flexibility of working at 3am to create my blooms to my heart's content.
What specific advice do you have for young women who want to be their own boss?
Don't give up! It takes a lot of work and perseverance with a good measure of trial and error. Networking has been my Achilles heel, but I strive to improve every day.
Name a challenge you may have faced that took you by surprise. How did you deal with it?
My biggest challenge so far has been being asked to re-create someone else's work, which I won't do.
It's important to me not to compromise my work and stay true to that.
How long does it take to make a large paper flower? What are they made of?
It takes about two hours. I cut everything, everything is cut by hand. The centers and the leaves I do on my Cricket. I tend to make the flower then I will get creative with the centers and match it. And I’ll often have people who will send me fabrics, and then we’ll try to match the flowers with their fabric. I get a lot of nurseries and kids rooms. It’s a lot of fun!
I use 65lb. Cardstock so it’s pretty sturdy and they curl pretty well. You can do a heavier paper but you really don’t want to do anything lighter than that. Another thing that I tell people is: it IS paper! I tend to do the curls on the petals very tight because over time they will let go a little bit. Just take a glue stick or even a pencil, if the curls will loosen up a little bit, and you can easily re-curl the petals. You can dust them off with a duster or lightly vacuum to keep them clean.
Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years?
I see myself taking this on full-time and would love to expand towards store displays while maintaining a 'one on one' experience with my clients. It's a business that nourishes my creativity and I would never want it to become a production line. I know all business women entrepreneurs strive to expand and so do I.
I always want to give my clients my undivided attention. To create the blooms that will put a smile on their face.