Lorena Cortez is a floral designer, teacher & shop owner based in San Francisco's Mission District. We had the pleasure of hosting a recent workshop with Lorena and invited her to share her story on our blog.
Photos by Micaela Go
Can you tell us about your background and how you ended up where you are?
I wouldn’t be anywhere without my husband, David. David’s magical power is to take a dream and turn it into a reality. He has done that for me since we met in 2010. I grew up in Santa Barbara spending a lot of time in my grandmother, Angelina’s, vast and thriving garden. She would care for the plants as I played amongst them. She’d tell me that all of them where mine to enjoy! From then on, I had always loved flowers and worked in numerous flower shops. It was David, who encouraged me to finally begin a business that was my own and that I could pour my heart into. We started Home Sweet Flowers from home in 2013. We have a private floral design studio and we focus solely on weddings and events. Then, on March 1st, 2020 we grew and opened our sister company, The Mellow SF, a retail plant store. We are temporarily closed, due to SF’s shelter-in-place, but have an online store where customers can purchase indoor plants, handheld flower bouquets, & gifts. We can’t wait to reopen when it is safe and offer in person workshops. I’ve been teaching workshops for years now and it brings me immense joy!
Name 2-3 of your favorite local Bay Area spots?
- SF Flower Mart: I usually go 2 times a week. It is full of flowers, which I love, but also it is like a 2nd family there for me. I go to buy fresh flowers and I stay for the conversations.
- Hog Island in Marshall: My perfect day would be driving up the coast and eating fresh oysters & sipping on champagne there. Such a fabulous day trip and dogs are welcome!
- Fort Funston: I love to bring my 2 dogs, Mellow & Lilac, here since they can run freely and I do not get bored of the coast scenery.
Biggest myth about being an artist ie. florist?
I hear it in the floral workshops I teach all the time, “I want to be a florist, that is my dream job”. People have this fantasy that being a florist is all sunshine and rainbows and they tend to highly romanticize it. I totally understand it, however, like any job, it is just that, a job. I have had countless sleepless nights, I have thrown out my neck and have gotten stress rashes, and I have worked tirelessly knowing I wouldn’t be making a profit. It’s easy to have floral arranging be a hobby, but it is quite another to be financial stable and make it into a career.
The advice I give to budding florists: go to your local flower market and make relationships with the vendors/farmers. Get acquainted with flowers, arrange & play, take pictures of your creations, and build a portfolio that can be used to get hired or for your own future small business. You might not get rich being a florist but you can be surrounded by beauty, that’s ultimately what makes me rich :)
Any personal styling tips?
If you have any white clothes that are old and with stains – natural dye them! Give them a new life. One easy natural dye is with Black Tea (golden brown shade) or Rosemary (dark green shade) in an Iron pot. It is very rewarding and helpful for the environment.
Any local causes you support?
The Women’s Building in the Mission district of San Francisco. Originally, my husband volunteered there to help women, who mostly speak Spanish, navigate technology. He connected me with their staff, and together we were able to offer a free Floral Design workshop for their community.
We thought we’d get at least 10 women in and over 18 showed up. It was beautiful to share my passion and knowledge with everyone and in Spanish! It reminded me of my grandmother, Angelina, who came to the US from Mexico in 1968. I think she would have loved my class and the support the Women’s Building offers to immigrants, specifically women. David and I even found a future employee there –Teresa, who helps us with Home Sweet Flowers. I look forward to offering more free workshops there for their community in the future.
I use to be a professional faerie with Happily Ever Laughter. It is the best child entertainment company ever. Fae Diddle Diddle, the queen faerie was the loveliest “boss” I’ve had and taught us (over 50+ faeries up and down the coast of CA) all balloon testing, face painting, and magic tricks. I’ve hung up my wings and retired but can still bust out my talents if I’m feeling it!
All photos by Micaela Go