Rennie and Brian Friedlander embarked on their flower business, Simply Beautiful, back in 1992. Since then, the married couple has worked side by side to provide floral services from small bouquets to large-scale weddings and events in Baltimore.
In 2015, after more than 20 successful years in the popular business, the Friedlanders decided to add a fresh perspective to the family business. They partnered up with mother-daughter duo Debbie Carey, 58, and Courtney James, 29.
With the new faces came a new name. Simply Beautiful blossomed into Simply Beautiful Flowers and Gifts.
“We wanted something new but we realized we had a lot of credibility in our name, so we kept it similar,” Rennie, 52, says.
The business moved into a new space on Falls Road — large, open, overflowing with natural light — adding decorations, gifts and homewares to its offerings.
“All of us have a very similar taste, which is an important part of what makes the business,” James says. “Everyone always has the same end goal.”
With similar taste and a diverse set of skills, the owners divide and conquer in four specific areas of expertise.
“I’m on more of the creative end, interpreting what the clients need and doing everything to make that happen,” says Rennie. That includes not only managing floral designs, but also sourcing crops for arrangements.
Brian, 53, “is the director of operations as far as the numbers, the insurance, payroll, delivery,” she says.
“Debbie’s expertise is the vision for the store,” says Rennie. Her background in design brings the goals of the partners to life in their retail space.
“I was friends with Debbie first,” she says. “We did a lot of projects together and [she] has an incredible eye.”
Courtney brings her experience in marketing and public relations to handle clients and staff, keeping the business structured and on schedule. “She’s very orderly and organized,” Rennie says.
Though each player in the floral quartet has their own responsibilities, they are able to fill any role in a pinch. “Each one of us could run the shop if we had to,” Rennie says.
Even Brian, the by-the-book guy, has the know-how to arrange flowers if need be.
“It’s not his favorite thing to do,” Rennie says with a laugh, “but he definitely knows what it’s supposed to look like.”
The partners agree that it’s not just what they bring to the vase, but what each of their 10 employees contributes as well. They have dedicated staff members in design, floral processing, sales and delivery.
“As far as creative differences, we’re very much on the same page for our vision and what we want for growth,” James says. They don’t disagree on much, because they share the same drive to bring joy to every client. “We really want this place to be the hub of the [Baltimore] floral community,” she continues, “and give that gift to our clients. This is their happy place.”
Yet, there’s no consensus on a favorite flower. “There are too many to choose from,” James says after a pause. “We look forward to different weeks of the year.”
Rennie adds, happily, “We actually have people plan their events based on what’s in season. Peony season, dahlia season … it’s more of a favorite flower of the moment.”
For information, visit simplybeautifulflowers.com
Liz McMahon is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.
Hesitant to arrange your own spring and summer stems? Rennie Friedlander of Simply Beautiful Flowers shares some smart and doable tricks of the trade.
Choosing the just-right container is important. Why? It dictates the arrangement’s style.
Choose flowers of the season. It’s wonderful to see spring flowers and greenery in the spring and summer garden flowers in the summer.
Don’t overcrowd your arrangement. Allow each flower to show off its unique qualities. Look at each stem and see how it’s growing. Look at the stem and face of the flower. Imagine how it looked before it was cut from the earth, and aim to capture that essence. Nature is perfection — we try not to make our arrangements look man-made or forced.
Don’t overthink it! Have fun. Allow yourself to get into the flow — beauty will present itself. A few colors are best.
When working with a three-dimensional design, think in terms of triangles of color. Design front to back and side to side.
Color blocks create a more natural-looking arrangement. Group like flowers in clusters just like they grow in nature.
If you have a fabulously colorful flower, place it so it is shown off. Frame it with beautiful greenery and textures next to colors that make it pop or stand apart.
Study your blooms. Often you can see multi-tones in flowers, orange into purple and orange into yellow, for example. These subtle multi-tones help us decide where to go and make beautiful color transitions in our arrangements, much like a painter blends paint.
Check out our Facebook page to see the designer series lineup — we are hosting half-day workshops with top floral designers in 2018 through 2019.