Just wait ‘til you get a load of this delicious feature! Lynsea is the sweetest pea and the most delightfully warm and down-to-business florist. She runs Portland, OR’s *only* sustainably certified floral business (Coy & Co!) AND epitomizes running a business with the guiding light of empathy towards our communities and environments at large. We are BIG fans. Thank you for sharing yourself with us this month, Lynsea!
Lynsea, we’ve been big fans of your Portland-based flower shop for a very long time. For our readers: it’s Portland’s first sustainably certified florist! As we cycle through one environmental disaster after another, people who capital-C Care and little businesses like yours really give me hope. Can you tell us what it means to be a sustainable florist in 2021 and what led you on this path to be the very first in our little west coast town to hold the title?
Gosh, well it definitely means we capital-C CARE!! It's easy to slap the "sustainable" label on anything you put the slightest amount of effort into... but cutting corners just isn't something I'm capable of. To the detriment of my schedule, I obsessively debate with myself over every tiny microscopic decision we make in the operation and actualization of our business and space. From the string we wrap our bouquets in, what we do with the leftover water in our buckets, the types of cars my drivers drive... really every single decision we make is informed by the environmental, social, and financial impact it has on our local and international community now and into the future. We're the first florist (and currently only) in the region to be Sustainably Certified through the Sustainability at Work Program here in Portland. I was motivated to go through the process specifically because of the egregious greenwashing my industry participates in. I really wanted to show that we meant it and that it was possible. The main tenets we follow are 100% local, 100% of the time..not just when it's convenient or easy. All florals, foliage, ceramics, cards, etc. are grown and made here locally and sustainably. We don't buy or sell anything wrapped in plastic or loaded with toxic chemicals. You can eat any of the flowers in our shop that are considered edible because they haven't been sprayed or fed toxins. We're Green Street Stewards, which means we've adopted bioswales in the neighborhood to steward! We focus on sourcing as much as possible from BIPOC artists and land stewards in the area, and are currently working with programs like Portland Means Progress and BBPDX to change the industry with a personal Theory of Change focused on the Landback Movement. This dedication to sustainability and community came from my own lived experience as a houseless Queer kid in Portland and the way community agriculture saved my life.
Flowers to me are emblems of comfort, nature’s most precious and fragile jewels, and the simplest love note one can write. Bouquets are the most perfect poems for moments of both celebration and loss. I bet you find yourself in deep conversation or crying sympathetic tears often when interacting with your customers! Working with a medium that holds such duality and universality, what do you think the flowers have taught you?
Woowwww, okay beautiful wordsmith!!! Couldn't have said it better! I can't tell you how much we cry in this shop, so YEAH, for SURE! I mean, gosh, the lessons I have learned from sustainable flowers, the people who grow, buy, and love them... and the lessons I've learned from arranging them... I could write books. One of the most important lessons I think, though, is the real meaning and purpose that comes from a life that embraces and CHERISHES constant change. Flowers fade: fast. What is in season or available changes: constantly. And they're supposed to! Our obsession with having flowers that last forever, and demanding every variety to be available all the time everywhere is UNHEALTHY. If we can readjust our mindset from white-knuckled fixation to loose and curious wonder, I think we will be a happier and healthier community as a whole. Winter can be difficult for people in the PNW, it's wet, dark, and cold. For me, as someone born and raised in Portland, I've come to deeply appreciate the opportunity to turn inward and nest. That's when we get an opportunity to enjoy the true evergreen quality of our region. That's when I break out the records, wreath rings, whip cream and Bailey's, visualize for the year ahead, and just generally relax in anticipation for another whirlwind season of fresh flowers. What's wonderful about this mindset is the more you embrace it, the more you are able to train your body and your mind into a rhythm of contentment and curiosity as you continuously and simultaneously love and let go.
Your shop and personality are both so bright!! They feel like little beacons of light in the (sometimes) dark sea that is operating a business on Instagram (I’m sure you understand). How do you make sure to take time for yourself as a business owner? Do you set and keep any boundaries that hold up and protect your positivity and happiness? Please share ;-)
That is so kind! Thank you!! We try really hard to be a sanctuary and refuge for our community, especially through these last couple of years, so that means the world to be recognized in our goals. But, yeah... it's true. If we don't take time for ourselves we do get burnt out and begin to resent the incredible place we've made for our community and ourselves. The old adage of "you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself" has become overwhelmingly true. We know how freelance work can be so difficult to place boundaries with because you feel like if you're not constantly available you'll lose opportunities and you'll crash and burn and fail etc. etc. etc. It's that but even worse when you own a small business with employees, vendors, and contractors who depend on your ability to create opportunities and business for them. It's not just you that's affected, it's an entire network of people you love and care about... so at first it can feel like if you're not constantly working you're letting them down... but the biggest letdown would be you burning out and shutting down permanently. SO now, I take breaks. I decide when I'm available to fulfill requests, and take my time responding to emails and inquiries. I only answer the phone during business hours, and I make sure my workspace is as comfortable and beautiful as my home. I hired a wonderful assistant to fill in the gaps and that allows me to take breaks on occasion. (We're still working on that balance.) I finally got to the point that I had to let go of the fear of losing business, and just trust and recognize the value of the customers and community who respect our boundaries and show up for us when we say we're available. That trust and faith continues to surprise and delight me.. the instant I start to get worried someone wonderful appears to give us the opportunity to do our work the best way we can: rested, open, and capable.
Okay, apologies in advance, but I really have to ask. What is your most favorite flower? If we had to break it down, cause I know that might be impossible to answer, let’s see… Favorite flower with a calming scent, favorite flower for its looks and looks alone (drool!), and favorite flower to gift someone for a celebratory event. Go!
It really is so impossible to answer because for every season there is a favorite for each of these categories BUT I have taken the time, looked inward... and... deep breath..........made my decisions:
Favorite flower for calming scent: Lilac
Favorite flower for looks and looks alone: Icelandic Poppies
Favorite flower to give for a celebratory event: Peaches & Cream Dahlias
Website : coycopdx.com
Lynsea’s Instagram: @coy_and_co
Photographer: Marissa Boone @lmarissaboone