Orlando Moms who Rock: Stephanie Forshee
Moms who Rock highlights Orlando moms doing their thing. This week’s spotlight is on Stephanie Forshee an Orlando mom, hair stylist, and floral designing queen.
What’s one of your favorite instagrams to look at that’s just plain pretty? For me, it’s Little Wild Bloom. I first saw the flowers at Buttermilk Bakery and P is For Pie. Cute little mason jars on the tables that added the perfect pop of color and whimsy to some of my favorite spaces. And then one day a little red haired toddler started popping up in the instagram feed and I thought, well of course she’s a mom who rocks! I got to meet Owen and his mama and talk all about Little Wild Bloom, Orlando, and the mom life.
Stephanie Forshee, the brains behind Little Wild Bloom came to Orlando for the Disney College program and from there went on to hair school. She works at Alchemy in College Park and you can hit her up there for a rad haircut. Little Owen was born two years ago and after maternity leave she drastically cut back her time at the salon so she could be home to raise Owen. With more time on her hands she was looking for a new hobby and creative outlet. She read about a flower farmer in Washington and everything clicked. She already had an interest in gardening, a love of flowers, and a firm belief that she could learn anything she needed to on the internet (I agree!) Things evolved naturally from there, Little Wild Bloom was born.
On the realization that she already knew some of the basics:
“I started playing around with flowers at home. It seemed like a lot of the same concepts as hair, you know color, line, shape, and form. So it was fun to see something I already knew transition to another medium.”
Once she was ready to launch her business, she reached out to P is for Pie and Buttermilk Bakery two local places she loved and asked if they’d be interested in bringing flowers into their space. Things grew organically from there. Customers started noticing her flowers and she booked her first wedding from someone who had seen her flowers at Buttermilk Bakery.
On styling arrangements for her first client’s wedding:
“I got really lucky with my very first wedding it was a friend of a friend and she was very laid back. I was terrified. But she was a gem so sweet and laid back. We clicked and our styles clicked. It was beautiful.”
On feeling the nerves:
“I get a littler nervous before every wedding because it’s someone’s biggest day. So I put a lot of pressure on that.”
She humbly notes that things have become much bigger than she expected. But I’m not surprised! Stephanie has a perfect lock on her aesthetic and she captures that all on her instagram. Stephanie says most of her business comes from social media and word of mouth. She’s excited to be expanding to doing even more weddings and putting her focus there.
On fitting things into the day:
“I’m in a really good stride. The flowers are great because they can work around the schedule of the day. So if it needs to be done during nap time or early morning or late night it’s pretty flexible in that regard.”
On farming flowers locally:
“You can actually grow flowers here in a garden to cut and they have a purpose. I’m networking with other people who are growing to try and incorporate some locally grown something in every arrangement. There has been a movement nationwide towards American grown flowers so you can see that trickling down here which is really exciting. I definitely feel like even in the last six months there are more people interested in growing flowers here.”
On her favorite flowers:
“I like texture and elements things you don’t necessarily see all the time. I always incorporate greenery. I like dahlias, they have lots of tones and colors. Also, anemones – bright white with the black center. They are striking to look at. I like things that are a little random and unexpected.
On the most surprising thing of starting this business:
“The support of people I don’t know and the community. Getting recognized… ten years into Orlando and I didn’t feel community at first. You meet a few people and then you realize everyone is so interconnected. It’s a much smaller town than what it seems like at first. There has been a surprising amount of support and excitement for something I’m excited about that you wouldn’t think everyone is excited about.”
As her business grows, so does little Owen. Stephanie tells me about how they go everywhere together. She delivers flowers wearing him on her back. Owen goes to the flower shop and runs around. She loves the perspective on life it gives him. When we met, Owen was so sweet and well behaved. But he did look longingly out the window the entire time. Who could blame him? Sit at a table and talk or head outside on a sunny day? I’m not fooled on what sounds like more fun!
On Owen’s notoriety:
“People know Owen more than they know me. He’s the little face of the flowers.”
“It’s the best hardest thing. He is an incredible little human. So fun and expressive but big personality. So it has been learning how to handle that and direct it rather than be overwhelmed by it.”
On their favorite things to do as a family:
“We like to be outside. Anything outdoors whether that’s hiking or just digging in the dirt. Being outside is where he is happiest.”
“When we need to recalibrate we take a step outside and get fresh air for both of us.”
On kids getting their hands dirty:
“It’s amazing how they thrive outside and in the dirt. I love to think about how that will translate to them as they grow.”
On the challenges of making it all work:
“It’s (motherhood) all encompassing. It’s hard to steal those moments for yourself and it’s been hard especially with running my own business and learning how to grow a business. There have been moments where I feel like I’m doing well at one thing and not great at the other thing. It’s hard to try to do both with equal fervor.”
On when other people weigh in:
“It’s surprising how many people have opinions about being a mom and what you should be doing and what the best thing to do is. And no matter what you do someone else has a different strategy. I just smile and nod at this point. I try to warn every new mom ‘everyone’s going to tell you, you’re doing it wrong.’ Nobody can tell you the right answer. Going with your gut is the biggest thing I’ve learned. You can take in everyone’s advice but at the end of the day whatever works for your family is what works.”
On what works for their family:
“We’re very attachment parenting, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, all that stuff. So we’re very attached all the time. A couple hours here and there with Papa (daddy) is great to give me a break.”
On finding her parenting style:
“I read things and it all kept coming back to this is what feels the best for me. It has worked out really well. I’m sure there are moments where a different approach may have been more helpful but all in all we’ve done well with this style of parenting.”
As a wife, mother, and business owner it can be hard to find a moment to herself. Stephanie says she steals minutes wherever she can to answer emails and let clients know she’s thinking of them and will follow up as soon as possible.
On finding the drive to do more:
“Instagram is such an amazing place for inspiration. So many amazing florists doing beautiful things. To steal a few minutes and scroll through see such beautiful images and feel like okay I can do this.”
Stephanie and I commiserated on how much of a struggle the summer heat is with little ones who crave the outdoors. She remarked that they try to get outside every morning and evening and make it through the day in between. They love the Orlando Science Center for an indoor option that has enough space to run around. Fingers crossed for an early Fall for all of us toddler moms.
On local favorite places:
“P is For Pie, Buttermilk Buttermilk Bakery, those are my spots around town. And East End Market too. I feel like anywhere where they don’t give me the stink eye if my baby’s running around I’m into it. We like Foxtail and there grassy area. We love Owl’s Attic and Market on South too. Really like where Orlando’s heading right now there’s good stuff going on.”
On why Orlando rocks:
“I feel like the community is strong right now and so into supporting local business and growing its identity aside from the theme parks. And I am excited about it. I love to talk about it now. It’s funny to be a transplant somewhere and feel really passionate about it. But this is my home and I’ve built a life here and I love that there’s a secret Orlando you can show people when they visit and show there’s really rad things here.”
On how far she’s come as an Orlandoan:
“10 years ago I never would’ve expected that I would be immersed in the Orlando culture. And now I’m lucky enough to know some of these small business owners and amazing people who are completely embedded in the community. I never would’ve guessed that’s where I’d be.”