florist sarah ryhanen

Sarah Ryhanen, Eric Famisan and Jeremy Barbour

One of the go-to places in Brooklyn, New York, for flowers in Saipua. However, the name is actually derived from the Finnish word for "soap". Since 1999 Susan Ryhanen started not only making bars of it from olive oil but also cutting and wrapping it by hand. In 2006, after daughter Sarah and her partner Eric had joined the business, a shop was opened in Brooklyn, selling flowers too. The studio with a storefront, pictured above (via The Scout Mag and Mindy Best), was opened in 2009 based on a design by architect Jeremy Barbour of Tacklebox.

Which five words best describe you? Fearless, cranky, loyal, dramatic, excitable.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I started playing with flowers after receiving a very pretty and unusual bouquet of black dahlias from my partner Eric on my 25th birthday. I would visit this unusual shop and purchase things by the stem and place them around the apartment. It made our little apartment feel exquisite. I was working as a curator at the time at Exit Art and the director, Jeanette, let me create big arrangements for openings and events. She was very supportive of my new hobby and eventually it was the right time for me to leave Exit Art to pursue flowers and our business. Isn't it funny how life works?

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I'm not sure I've learned any good lessons yet! I know the lessons, but learning them and adhering to them is so much different. As our business has grown it has become a lot more complicated, clients, employees, now a flower farm - but I think the most important lesson for me is to always remember the flowers. Every single arrangement needs to be perfect. There should never be any skimping, never any, "it's good enough". As things get bigger and more chaotic it makes me more obsessive about keeping the small orders absolutely exquisite. Otherwise, we loose sight of why we're working so hard.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Being able to employ and provide health insurance for our staff. I'm really proud that Saipua can make a living for four people - seven if you count part-timers. I owe them everything for their relentless commitment.

What’s been your best decision? Hard to pick one - always repeatedly the best decisions come from listening to Eric's (my boyfriend and business partner) sound advice. He keeps my impulsive, rash side in check.

Who inspires you? Ariella Chezar. Thierry Boutemy. All of the talented Brooklyn designers who constantly put out stunning work; they keep me on my toes, asthetically. I love healthy competition, it keeps us driven and inventive.

What are you passionate about? My work, cooking, coffee.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Kate Bush

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to have a field of bearded iris one day. And sheep; I want a small flock of Icelandic sheep, to make some cheese. I want to learn more about dance, and make my own dance troupe. That sounds like a 13-year-old dream, but it's true.

I really want to do a book but finding the time for that is hard lately. And a pack of dogs that follow me around and keep deer out of my flower beds.

What are you reading? Eliot Coleman's The New Organic Grower.

images courtesy of saipua and mindy best; via the scout mag

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