On Sunday, January 20, Botanical International Design Studio in Tampa, Fla., celebrated 30 years in business by showing off what the company does best: throwing one heck of a party.
Family, friends, longtime clients, and wedding vendor entered a historic home completely transformed with eye-catching and thoughtful details, including:
- Bistro lights and hundreds of votive candles
- An electric violin player perched on a platform wearing a long sparkly gown and a feather in her hair
- A cascade of roses, hydrangeas, Phalaenopsis orchids, and greenery tumbling down a flight of stairs
- Floral arches, collages, and centerpieces galore
- Client testimonials etched on cocktail napkins and a front entrance carpet
After about an hour of mingling over craft cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres, guests were directed through a backdoor, revealing a ballroom festooned with even more flowers, lounge seating areas (a Botanica specialty), and a stage set with a seven-piece band.
Jordan Prosser, Botanica’s flower buyer, and Zoë Gallina, AAF, the company’s creative designer, took a few minutes to greet guests, reminisce about growing up in the flower industry, and share their journeys in the family business before introducing the man of the hour, their father, Ian Prosser, AAF, AIFD, PFCI.
In addition to serving as the choice florist for discerning brides in central and Southwest Florida, Prosser has achieved international acclaim for his design skills and service to the industry. Among his resume highlights:
- Floral Designer of the Year (Scotland)
- National Diploma of the Society of Floristry (the highest European honor in floral design)
- Sylvia Cup Champion
- Paul Ecke, Jr. Award winner
- Presidential inaugurations for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush
- Design team member for the Society of American Florists’ annual convention
- FTD educator
- Mainstage presenter at the American Institute of Floral Designer annual symposium
“Everybody who knows me, knows I’m a mush ball,” he said to the crowd, fighting back tears. “My job tonight is to give you a little history about where this business came from.”
While a teenager, Prosser encountered an elderly woman who seemed neglected. He struck up a friendship.
One day he asked her, “What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but have never tried?”
Her answer: floral design.
“So I found a flower arranging class, at the ripe age of 15, and I went with her every Tuesday night,” Prosser said.
The experience inspired a career in floristry, much to his father’s chagrin.
“I was supposed to go to the University of Glasgow and study fashion. My dad was annoyed I chose to enter a ‘sissy’ industry instead,” Prosser recalled with a laugh. “But his negativity actually lit a fire under me.”
In Scotland, Prosser ran three shops with his wife, Fiona, AAF, when the couple decided to move to the United States, “where the streets were paved with gold.”
He started working at Bachelor Button, then Tampa’s premier florist, where he became shop manager after a week. Three years later, at his wife’s encouragement, he opened his own retail shop in an 800-square-foot space.
“My parents had two young children and a third—me—on the way at the time,” said Jordan Prosser. “So this was quite a lot to take on!”
Botanica’s retail business grew and relocated around Tampa several times until 2007, when the Prossers decided to do events only and moved into a warehouse facility.
The company has continued to evolve, growing from purely floral design to full production (think: custom flooring, lighting, furnishings, etc.). In late 2017, Botanica launched a sister business, “StyleHouse,” which rents Botanica’s vast inventory of furniture and accessories to other florists or corporations.
Prosser told the crowd he believes deeply in the concept of paying it forward.
“That’s why tonight, instead of giving you a favor you can take home and throw away, we’ve made a donation in your name to the American Floral Endowment that will enable a budding young florist realize their dream like I did.”