A few years ago, Christy Hulsey was designing her best friend’s wedding and decided to bring her young daughter along. “I thought it would a good idea,” said the owner of Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Georgia. “It was not. All she wanted to do was touch the floral designs.”
To distract her daughter, Hulsey fashioned a halo out of flower cuttings on the crown and asked her to deliver the bouquet to the bride. The photographer snapped a shot of the precious moment and posted it online.
“Somehow, a woman from Pottery Barn saw the picture and my name, so she looked me up to ask if they could use it on their blog,” she said. A stunned Hulsey agreed, elated to have her daughter’s photo (and her flowers) affiliated with one of the largest home companies in the entire world.
It was only the beginning.
A few days later, the woman called back. She’d taken some time to check out the Colonial Flowers’ website and loved what she saw. She invited Hulsey to be Pottery Barn’s featured florist on its blog, asking her to create designs in the company’s products.
“I informed her that I’m in a small town that’s four and a half hours from the nearest Pottery Barn and didn’t have access to the products,” she said. “She told me not to worry—to pick out my favorite pieces online and they’d send them to me.”
In her two years in this role, she’s arranged flowers on a cake stand, in a driftwood lantern, a basket and a giant cement shell, along with more traditional containers. One who demurs from the spotlight, Hulsey prefers to feature her relatives, employees, and favorite stylists in her posts.
It’s a hefty investment in time, but well worth it. “Our shop website gets more visitors coming from Pottery Barn than anywhere else—Facebook, Instagram, wedding sites like Style Me Pretty,” she said. “Even if they’re just browsing, all those visitors help my SEO, so they’re helping local customers find me.”
Additionally, it gives her instant cred with customers and other industry professionals. “When you ask people to photograph your work for Potttery Barn, their ears perk up. They pull out all the stops to make your flowers look as good as possible,” she explained.
Her posts on front doors have created a niche specialty. “Our shop is known for this,” she said. “We decorate a ton of doors in Statesboro.”
The blog posts have given Hulsey a platform to share her shop’s story, helping her connect with customers on an emotional level. They’ve also exposed her brand to people all over the world. “We ship nonperishable products, like candles, iPhone cases, bags, etc., and Pottery Barn has really helped us move inventory,” she said.
She describes that first phone call “divine intervention.”
“It came out of nowhere and was a game changer,” she said.
She encourages other florists to reach out to the PR people at big brands.
“When I got the call, influencer marketing was pretty new, but now it’s huge,” she said. “And brands like J Crew and Anthropologie use flowers in so much of their advertising because they’re beautiful and everyone likes them. Florists definitely have a leg up on the average person in terms of ideas and beautiful photography.”