Talking Flowers & Floristry with Lisa of Whiskey Jack Flowers

Talking Flowers & Floristry with Lisa of Whiskey Jack Flowers

Let me introduce you to my friend, Lisa Weagle, who has two floral companies, Whiskey Jack Flowers and Sweet Woodruff! She's a talented florist and a kind and adventurous person.

What is your first memory of flowers?

My first memory of flowers was picking yellow dandelions with my brother when we were little and then smearing the flower heads on each other's limbs. That and making wishes by blowing on the fluffy seed heads. Dandelion stuffs!

What work did you do before becoming a florist?

I worked as an analyst for a communications firm believe it or not!

What inspired you to leave corporate life and start your career as a florist?

Prior to my ‘corporate life’ I worked in fashion. I have always loved working with my hands and being creative. After leaving the fashion industry, and working in communications, I enjoyed the ol’ 9-5 for some time but then yearned to get back to working with my hands and stumbled upon floristry!

Tell me more about the beginning of Whiskey Jack Flowers. What inspired the name? Any surprises once embarking upon this journey?

Sure! I launched Whiskey Jack Flowers in June 2018, and at the heart of the business is a commitment to using locally grown flowers. When it came to choosing a name, I wanted something that reflected this commitment by choosing a name that represented Ontario, or even Canada as a whole. I am obsessed with animals so, I was brainstorming ideas for a sort of mascot and that's when I came across the whiskeyjack, a bird found in every province and territory in Canada! Interestingly, I later discovered that the whiskeyjack is considered Canada’s unofficial national bird!

You’ve recently taken over another flower business. Please tell me about that.

That’s true! As of last year, I’ve taken over another wedding and event-based floristry business, Sweet Woodruff. I've had the pleasure of working alongside Sweet Woodruff for many years as a freelance designer, and the opportunity to assume ownership was too exciting to pass up! Now, I find myself operating two distinct brands, which is both fun and rewarding. Both Whiskey Jack Flowers and Sweet Woodruff share a commitment to delivering exceptional quality through intentional designs featuring the best seasonal blooms. However, each brand offers a unique aesthetic, allowing me to cater to a broader range of tastes and preferences. Whiskey Jack Flowers embodies a romantic and contemporary flair, characterized by innovative designs and color palettes. On the other hand, Sweet Woodruff exudes a sense of minimalism and understated elegance, catering to those seeking a more subdued and romantic ambiance. While I'm hesitant to label Sweet Woodruff’s designs as 'timeless,' they certainly evoke a whimsical charm that transcends trends.

Can you describe your new work space?

Of course! We have a new bright and airy studio in Newmarket. It's got a lot of windows so it's full of natural light - which by the way, is the best kind of light for photographing flowers ;) It's a beautiful space to prep our wedding & event florals, have consultations and hopefully run some small workshops out of in the future. We are also hoping to host a one-day studio sale to clear out some older inventory. This will be a great time to drop by, say hi, and see the new space! We’re aiming to organize this event sometime in the next couple months and will keep everyone updated on the details via our Instagram (@whiskeyjackflowers, @sweetwoodruff).

What do you love about being a florist? What don’t you love?

I love using flowers as an artistic medium. Being a florist has expanded my understanding of what a canvas could look like and has given me the opportunity to use flowers as an ever changing form of artistic and emotional expression. I love the way flowers allow me to reshape time and space, creating moments and memories for others. Knowing that my creations bring joy into people's lives is incredibly fulfilling. I also love the connection with nature that comes with working with flowers. One of the challenges I'd say is the unpredictability of the job. The floral industry can be highly seasonal, with periods of intense demand followed by slower times. Balancing this fluctuation in workload can be challenging, and it often requires flexibility and adaptability. Another thing is navigating the unpredictability of climate change and seasonal fluctuations. With shifting weather patterns, it's becoming trickier to predict local seasonal availability.

Have you had doubts over the years? What did you do to quiet the doubt? And persevere with your passion?

Honestly, I've never doubted floristry as my path, but navigating the responsibilities of being a business owner has brought moments of uncertainty! There’s a lot I’ve learned and still learning - and on the job. Despite the inevitable challenges, there's a sense of fulfillment in overcoming and growing stronger because of them. I like to remind myself that everything is a skill, and the more you practice something, the better you become at it.

What kind of training/courses have you done/are currently doing?

I wouldn’t say I’ve had any ‘formal training’, but I have been fortunate enough to have some amazing opportunities to do some floral workshops with some incredible florists from all over the world. It's important to invest in yourself!! I’ve also had the privilege to freelance for (what I would say are) some of the best floral designers in Toronto :)

I know you purchase many local flowers. Why is that important to you?

I'm super passionate about embracing the unique beauty that each season brings, which is why I find so much joy in working with locally-sourced seasonal flowers. Not only does this allow me to showcase these beautiful, and specialty flowers, but it also serves a greater purpose. By prioritizing locally grown blooms, I actively contribute to the vitality of our communities and small businesses. This conscious choice not only bolsters our local economy but also promotes sustainable growing methods, minimizes carbon footprints, and diminishes excess packaging. It also supports our amazing community of local flower farmers. Their passion for growing beautiful blooms adds such a special touch to my life and to my work, and I’m so grateful for their commitment and hard work. And as you know, farming is not for the faint of heart!

What is unique about your style?

I’d say our designs combine the raw sensibility of nature with a contemporary elegance. We're all about bringing out the best in flowers, and really in every stem we place. Playing with textures, dimensions, seasonality and color in unique and interesting ways to create something really special and unforgettable for our clients - and their guests!

Favourite flower & why?

This one is tough! Do I have to pick just one?! I have favourites for every season - spring being my favourite of the seasons both in flowers and in life! But, I guess if I had to pick just one it would be sweet peas. I love their smell, their delicate nature and the way they flutter.

I imagine there is some level of stress in this industry. A few unknowns. How do you manage and/or work with/through the more stressful moments?

Like any job, it can be stressful at times. There are a lot of moving parts and sometimes unknowns and of course you always want to provide the best service and products for your clients. I think by surrounding yourself with a good team, remembering to eat (which is a big one for me!), staying hydrated, being flexible and having a good attitude and positive mindset.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the flower studio?

When I’m not working or in the garden some of the things I love are being by water, thrift shopping (I love the thrill of the find) or spending time with friends and family. When possible, I love to travel and to learn about different cultures. I also love learning about ancient civilizations! My birthday typically falls over March Break and when I was 14 my family and I took a trip to Mexico and for my birthday we visited the Zapotec ruins, Monte Albán. I fell in love with Mexico and since then Latin America. Learning Spanish has been something I’ve been working on here and there over the last 10 years but last year I have been taking it more seriously doing Spanish lessons with a tutor.

Why are flowers, and the act of buying flowers for others & ourselves important?

Whether outside or inside, I think it's important to be around nature. It can evoke such a sense of calmness and re-grounding, especially in this fast-paced, technological world we find ourselves in. And, it just makes you happier! But really, there are studies on this and it's been proven to make a difference on our wellbeing in terms of your mental, emotional and even physical health. In terms of the act of buying, I mean it's such a good feeling on both ends - giving and receiving flowers! During COVID and on Mother’s Day (when it aligns with our event calendar) we’ve done retail flower orders, some of which I’ve delivered. Even just delivering the flowers is such a nice feeling! People are so touched! It's very heartwarming.

Where do you envision yourself & the business five years’ from now?

Well without going too deep here! I’d say in five years, I envision both myself and the businesses thriving, reaching new heights of success while remaining rooted in our passion for floral artistry, building community and a continuing dedication to providing a warm and supportive client experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Just that if you haven’t yet (or even if you have!) visited Country Cut Flowers for pick your own, you should definitely do so! It's such a magical experience. One I promise you’ll be grateful for!

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