Kelsey Harper learned to love flowers from her mother.
Little did she know that years later, her own small children would be running to her with handpicked bouquets in their tiny hands. First, Harper used her design instincts and passion for blooms to create cult LA floral company, Flower Girl Los Angeles. Then, in 2018, after having kids, she reinvented herself and her company, founding Matriarch, a flower design, homeware and gift company inspired by nostalgic scents and her world travel.
Here, Harper describes how, in true heroic motherly form, she has managed to roll with this pandemic, reinventing her entire business and learning to let go of outside pressures to embrace this special time:
Live The Process: How did you first fall in love with flowers?
Kelsey Harper: Flowers were always a powerful way to make my surroundings brighter as a child. I grew up gardening with my mom and always noticed how much joy it inspired to bring a big bundle of roses in from the garden to dress up our home. It always felt like the house had been manicured as we placed little jars and vessels of fragrant blooms around.
LTP: Why did you choose the name Matriarch for your brand?
KH: Matriarch came about as a bit of an evolution of self. As I became a mother, “matriarch” was a term that resonated with me and I liked the sound of—it felt strong and also broad. I felt limited by the previous brand name, “Flower Girl Los Angeles,” because it was so specific and I wanted to broaden my brand to sell homewares, skincare, baby products, gift boxes and now care packages.
LTP: With flower markets not functioning, how have you reinvented your business model and rolled with this new normal?
KH: I looked around my studio after the flowers were gone, knowing I couldn’t restock, and realized I had so many products and dried flowers and beautiful inventory that I could still sell. I loved the idea of creating “Care Packages” that friends, lovers, parents, siblings, really anyone could send to each other while in quarantine to share their love. I curated a small selection of gifts and figured out the new world of shipping, which I could manage while still at home while tending to young children. The Care Packages have been such a success and, had it not been for this pandemic, I don't think my brand would have reached so many people outside of LA. It really has been amazing and will definitely stay in the offering pool once this is over.
LTP: What is the nature of motherhood during this pandemic?
KH: I have shaped my work life around the fact that I have small children. I have chosen to work from my home studio for the last six years or so, so that I can be available to them and so that they, in turn, can be involved in my work. It’s really sweet watching them: they pick flowers for me from our garden daily and present them with pride.
The pandemic has brought up a few struggles, but mostly pertaining to my work/mom balance, as they are in pre-k and kindergarten. I was being asked by their school to continue paying tuition and to make sure they complete a large amount of remote school work, which I just couldn’t keep up with. I decided to let them start summer vacation early, so that I could focus on my business—in order to take care of them and their essential needs—and spend quality one-on-one time with them. I don’t think I’ll ever have this opportunity again and I’d rather remember it fondly than as the time I fought with my kids over tracing their names 20 times a day.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
KH: Happiness looks like a Sunday supper with a large crowded table of company, a beautiful meal spread down the center and, of course, lots of flowers and wine.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
KH: “Live The Process” means to me that each step of my personal and professional evolution is important. The mistakes, the successes, the hardships, the gains are all part of our evolution of self. Had I not been through all that I have, I don’t know that I would be as okay as I am today in this world crisis and mess. I believe in embracing all of the good and bad as your story, accepting yourself as a whole and being your most authentic self.