byrd and blooms
“Don’t be afraid of the flowers.”
Interesting and unexpected words when it comes to the highly stylized realm of flower arrangements, but it’s precisely this loose and comfortable approach that defines Ashley Woodson Bailey’s floral philosophy.
For an area so closely associated with perfection, Bailey brings a fresh and decidedly unregimented approach to her lush, romantic designs.
But then again, intuition plays a large role as well – she just knows what works.
She emanates an enviably steady calmness, not to mention style. Having relocated to Austin from Savannah merely a couple of months ago, Bailey has already hit the ground running with The Byrd Collective, her floral and events design company. Named after her spirited 3 yr.-old daughter, Byrdie, the business is her latest adventure in event production.
So where does the ‘collective’ part come into play?
“I don’t think any event you work on – whether it just be flowers, or doing an entire event from start to finish – is solely from one brain. I think you collect from other people. I mean, there is no way that one person comes up with every idea,” she says.
Most recently, Bailey was the Director of Events at the Savannah College of Art and Design – a role that exposed her to a steady stream of talented artists and solidified her love of creative collaboration.
“When I was at SCAD, I got to work with these incredible artists – they’re quirky, they’re interesting. When you’ve been doing events for as long as I have, you start to see things that just look the same; but artists who are true artists... they see things totally different.”
When I was at SCAD, I got to work with these incredible artists – they’re quirky, they’re interesting. When you’ve been doing events for as long as I have, you start to see things that just look the same; but artists who are true artists... they see things totally different.
Having worked on events for nearly 15 years now – from Houston to New York City – she is no novice when it comes to the creative challenge of executing a flawless occasion.
“I can be a jack of all trades, but I prefer to do the flowers. I just find that part soothing,” says Bailey.
It was a workshop at the Florence, Alabama studio of fashion designer Natalie Chanin (of Alabama Chanin), that planted the seeds of independence and fueled her desire to invest in her own venture. Sure, she may have learned a few sewing skills that have since informed her designs (as evidenced by her delicately crafted ‘flower bracelets’), but Bailey’s real takeaway was all business.
“The much more valuable lesson I learned is just to be independent and to do what you want to do,” she reveals.
In other words, live the dream.
Lucky enough to attend a recent "Food + Flowers" event hosted by The Byrd Collective and local blogger Camille Styles, I was able to see Bailey in action as she directed a small group of floral newbies in the art of the effortlessly chic and recipe-free arrangement – her specialty. Pairing with Any Style Catering for the lunch, Bailey was test-driving a Flower School concept, a side project she hopes to expand in the coming months.
“I’d love to collaborate with other florists and artists to continue Flower School out of my home-based studio," she says. "Ideally, it would be small class on Sunday afternoons.”
That said, this fall is looking mighty busy for the newlywed, who is expecting in November.
“I like to do a hundred different things.”
And with a few weddings, a blowout birthday party, a charity gala and her own launch party already on the books, she’s not kidding.
Ultimately, Bailey hopes for The Byrd Collective to be a one-stop-shop for event production. Well on her way, she already provides a unique letterpress service to her clients, working with Fort Worth-based Byrd & Bleecker to source and design invitations.
Seems like “don’t be afraid of the flowers” may as well be a metaphor for getting after it and making those sidelined dreams a reality.
…Just be sure to water often.
For more information on Ashley and The Byrd Collective, feel free to email her directly: email@example.com