Volume One stopped by for an interview…see their write up here!
by Kelsey Yanna
Hive & Hollow is not your average flower shop and its floral arrangements are anything but average. When I walked into the local Menomonie business, I felt like I was entering another world – one that is whimsical, botanical, and sprinkled with magic. Hive & Hollow’s flower arrangements are truly what makes this magic come alive as they are adorned with natural materials, such as mushrooms, feathers, antler bones, dried flowers, and grasses. Sarah Freeman, the owner of Hive & Hollow, describes her floral arrangements as “organic in style” and “free-flowing” because they aren’t systematically placed and tend to feature negative space.
Another way that her floral arrangements stand out is that they are locally sourced. Freeman proudly informs me that all the flowers at Hive & Hollow are either grown near Menomonie or in the United States. This allows Freeman to not only support small businesses in the area and American growers, but also makes her locally sourced flowers stay fresh for a longer period of time. Because the further away the flowers are grown, the larger their carbon footprint and the more longevity chemicals they are sprayed with.
With these sustainable flowers, Freeman creates a wide variety of floral arrangements, including bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, table centerpieces, baskets, and wreaths. She also takes custom orders for special occasions like weddings, business events, and her most common request: funerals. Hive & Hollow provides options for customers looking for a more casual arrangement as well. Each day, her cooler is stocked with mixed-flower bouquets, vase arrangements, and individual stemmed flowers.
Whether the floral arrangement is made specifically for an event or for an ordinary day, every arrangement is truly unique. Similar to how every person is different, every flower arrangement is different. Each arrangement evokes a different feeling to reflect the recipient’s individuality. “I’ve done a flower arrangement for a grandpa’s funeral who loved hunting, so I incorporated a lot of antlers into that arrangement,” said Freeman. She has also created boutonnieres for a wedding that featured the cap of the groom’s favorite beer.
Because of her floral arrangements are reflective of the person, Freeman doesn’t have a specific technique of how she arranges her flowers. Instead, she bases them on how she feels and lets the flowers decide their place rather than adhering to a certain method. “I take the cue from the flowers more than anything,” she explained. “If the head is pointing down, then it’s in the front.” Likewise, if there’s a tall flower pointing upwards, it’s placed in the back.
Often times, Freeman centers her arrangements around a focal flower. “It can be one focal flower with a big leaf that I’ve cut from a bundle of tropical leaves,” she said. Freeman also draws her inspiration from whichever flower is currently in season. “I’ve been making a lot of arrangements with hydrangea from Oregon lately,” she said. “In September, I used a lot of dahlias because they were in season.” Because of this seasonal time factor, Hive & Hollow doesn’t have a definite bestseller flower arrangement nor does Freeman have a clear-cut favorite.
Although Freeman couldn’t pick just one favorite floral arrangement that she’s created, she did have a most memorable one: a peacock ice sculpture decorated with flowers. “The shape of the peacock was in ice and I made the tail out of flowers & feathers,” Freeman described. Upon knowing this, it’s safe to say that Hive & Hollow doesn’t sell traditional flower arrangements; a fact that Freeman prides herself in.
Whether you’re interested in creating traditional or extraordinary floral arrangements like Freeman, she encourages you to learn by experimenting. “Experiential learning is the best way,” she said. “It also helps to have a natural eye for design.” Soon, you too, will be able to transform your space into another world – one that is whimsical, botanical, and sprinkled with magic like Sarah Freeman’s Hive & Hollow flower shop.
Hive & Hollow is joining a small number of concerned florists across the world in promoting the slow flower movement. Like the slow food movement (sourcing local, seasonal foods), floral professionals and consumers are looking at ways to reduce their carbon footprints. Green weddings and funerals are gaining in popularity as we reevaluate our values with a growing concern for the climate.
Our reason for this is simple, the flower industry could do a lot better. Much of the flowers grown in South America and Africa have contributed to devastating deforestation and water pollution, workers are often treated unfairly, and subjected to harmful pesticides. This intensive farming relies on excessive fertilizers, contributing to water pollution, and imported flowers often spend long hours in boxes and are then fumigated when coming into the country. We love working with flowers, but don’t want to do it that way any longer.
How do we change this?
We begin by sourcing flowers and plants from our own land and other local growers in the upper Midwest. During the winter season, when all that can be found in the cold North are evergreens, twigs and pods, we source from other parts of the United States or fair trade certified growers. There is so much beauty in our region, and we are all about celebrating that seasonal beauty in both its simplicity and its majesty. We have committed to sourcing from as close to our brick and mortar shop as is possible to reduces the amount of travel time and energy used to ship flowers.
When sourcing gifts and accessories for the shop we look first to our own community. Is someone making beeswax candles? Beauty products out of locally sourced, natural ingredients? Ceramic pots and vases? We have an amazing community of talented makers, and Hive & Hollow aims to celebrate them. This cuts out shipping costs, keeps money in our own community, and supports other artists.
We have a deep concern about single use plastics and avoid them whenever possible. We don't use plastic picks, just foraged twigs to hold your enclosure card, and no water tubes either. Your arrangement may be in a recycled glass vase, a vintage container, a mason jar or a recycled soup can. Your delivery box may be a repurposed box, and your plant liner may be a repurposed plastic salad clamshell. We rarely use floral foam, as it has been found to have carcinogenic properties and does not decompose. We believe taking these small steps can make a big difference, and we do it not because it is easy, but because we care. This is fairly revolutionary, as Hive & Hollow is the only flower shop in the region to commit to these practices. We hope you’ll join us.
Last spring, I was encouraged to apply for a Red Letter Grant, a grant given to female entrepreneurs to help them get a head start. I presented before a group of successful female entrepreneurs, bankers, and artists. I was honored to be chosen. The grant is a $2000 award, plus credit to use at Volume One and Ambient Inks. Beyond that, I have been connected to an amazing group of women who are about empowering and teaching. This has been an incredible experience.
Recently the grant has expanded, and with that expansion a retail space was donated for grant winner use. The first use of this space will be as a holiday pop-up where you can get to know the grantees and their businesses. Hive & Hollow will be there with plants, gifts and holiday flower arrangements, along with Dotters Books, Giizhig Design Company, Moonrise Aeriels, and Odd Brand Strategy.
Swing by and see us there! Wednesdays through Sundays at 325 E. Madison in Eau Claire. Learn more at www.RedLetterGrant.org
Check out this write up in Second Opinion magazine!