Being hired for your dream job right out of college seems like a fairytale in itself. For most college graduates, they usually don’t achieve this goal ’till a few years later after paying back a mountain-ful of debt and working at a POS job that just barely covered the bills. However, acquiring your dream job or not doesn’t define you or your passions — it could just be the catalyst you need to create the life you were always meant to live. That’s where Kelsie Hayes comes in. While achieving her goal of becoming a fashion designer right out of graduating was everything she could’ve hoped for, the opportunity actually lead her to find her true calling: being a florist.
Popup Florist is the modern answer to all of our floral problems. From a budding side gig, Kelsie Hayes completely transform the market by creating a one-of-a-kind boutique floral shop that provides stunning plant and floral designs without having to dive into your savings account. Plus, when clients such as Eva Chen, Barneys New York, Soho House, Instagram, and Covergirl (you know, just to name a few) become repeat customers, then you know what Hayes has created is legit AF. Meet the baddest florist babe we know, Kelsie Hayes.
Lower East Side, New York
Flower that represents your personal aesthetic:
NYC bar for girls’ night out:
Proudest moment of your career:
Seeing ‘popup florist’ on the wall at Barneys Madison Avenue!
Ultimate guilty pleasure:
Food: Milk Bar blueberry and cream cookies
TV: rewatching The OC — over and over and over again.
A bucket-list item you want to check off this year:
Name one thing most people don’t know about you:
I always find it really funny when people say I’m extremely chill and laid back. Inside I’m kind of always in a panic that I’m forgetting something. That being said, I’m working towards having a more organized, less chaotic lifestyle!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you decided to create Popupflorist.
Since I can remember, I’ve always been addicted to creating. My mother, sister and I were always crafting and honestly, not much has changed. Having parents that supported me going into the arts/creative field has really shaped my life and career thus far. Being a fashion designer was a dream of mine as a little girl and they did everything they could to make that happen. I got my dream job out of college and was able to help build a brand from the ground up. Everything I learned from Beckley I use today with Popup Florist.
Popup Florist was created with the idea that occasion gifts shouldn’t break the bank. I’ve found that there really isn’t an in-between of fancy high-end flower shops and bodega flowers. I really want people to be able to stop by and grab a $12 bouquet to cheer themselves up or send a $30 arrangement to someone else. Layered on top of that, we really strive to create unique ways to package the flowers as well as interesting color/texture combinations. Since launching, we’ve been able to expand into a floral and plant design company that does weekly accounts, event design, branded gifting, and beyond. It’s been really fun to watch the company grow organically, all while capturing the attention of brands that I really love and look up to!
Before the inception of Popup Florist, you were initially a fashion designer. While both professions are creative, how did you know that you were ready to make the transition to a new career, and has this career change impact your personal life in a way you never expected?
I had the opportunity to work for an amazing person/brand right out of college, so when that ended I knew I wanted to transition out of fashion into another passion of mine. When I launched Popup Florist, I thought it would just be a fun side gig until I figured out my next move. Things kind of started happening naturally. Every step to get to where the brand is now has felt right. I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I’ve passed on, and others that I took a risk on. Opening my shop was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done — but it just felt right. I’m so happy to be in the position we’re in now, collaborating with brands that I’ve looked up to all while also being able to help customers that I relate to. On a personal level, I now have this “baby” that I can’t abandon — so that has really affected my travel plans/spontaneity. Every time I get ‘FOMO,’ I just bring myself back to realizing that I’m beyond lucky to be living in New York City, doing something that I love and that I have created!
What would you say is one of the most important characteristics one should have when it comes to transitioning careers?
The ability to go with your gut. You can ask others for advice along the way, but I think truly spending time, focusing on yourself and trusting your instincts is key.
Some of the biggest brands and clients in the industry hire you for your thoughtful creations. What do you believe makes you stand out from traditional floral companies and makes other high-profile clients come back to you again and again?
Our customer service above all helps us score the repeat clients. In our retail shop, we really strive to connect to the customers and make them a part of the process whether it’s building an arrangement with them or explaining how to care for their new plants. With our bigger clients, I personally email, meet with, and have phone calls with the client. I try to apply their branding and messaging to the project. I create mood boards and in-detail proposals, as well as make sure I’m on site to set up the events. While we’re still small I think it’s important as a business owner to do everything from A to Z. I also try to work with budgets of all sizes. I don’t want to be branded as a high-end florist, I like that what we do is fun and approachable.
NYC summer activity that’s on your radar:
Coney Island. A classic, guaranteed good time!
As someone who never trained to be a florist with a successful floral brand, what would you say to someone whose afraid to start a new venture because they believe they don’t have enough experience?
My advice would be to not be afraid to get your hands dirty and really dive in. Since I opened the shop, I have been at the flower market 3-4 times a week. Instead of taking classes or reading endless books about floristry, I thought it would be more beneficial for me to spend time with the product. I’m learning something new every day and I love it. Mornings at the flower market, as hectic as they can be sometimes, are my favorite part and my time spent there is invaluable.
If you could decorate any space for a certain someone, near or far, who and where would that be?
I would want to decorate a house for Beyoncé in Marrakech, Morocco. Call me, Bey!
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
As far as for the brand — I spend a lot of time in LA and would love to open Popup Florist there. That is definitely in the pipeline. I hope over the next five years I can build a team to help get us to the next level — so that on a personal level, I can have a little more structure in my life and be able to take those spontaneous trips to all of the places I’m dying to cross off my list, J!
Any advice for future Boss Babes, especially those looking to work in the floral industry?
Believe in yourself and go with your gut! As far as getting into the floral industry, prepare to have a crazy schedule! Being a florist means very early mornings to get the best selection and very late nights to meet those tight deadlines!
If you’re thinking of giving mom a just-because floral bouquet, check out Pop Florist online or visit at the Gansevoort Market, located at 353 W 14th Street.
P.S. befriend Kelsie on Insta here, because, why not?
Written by Raven Ishak
Photography via Vanessa Granda