TAMPA, Fla. - You might call Ian Prosser a flower expert.
"I came from Scotland and worked for a store for three years. I had four shops in Scotland, so it was time to do my own thing," he explained.
So, Prosser opened Botanica Design Studio in Tampa, which he now runs with his daughter Zoë Gallina. After being in business for over 30 years, they’ve seen a lot.
"We encountered things like the oil spill that was thrown out of proportion, and so many weddings were canceled because of that. Then we encounter 9/11," he recalled. "We also experienced the crash in the real estate market, where money was tight for a whole lot of people."
However, nothing could have prepared them for the global pandemic that would all but bring their business to a halt.
"We never encountered anything like COVID that just affected the world," Prosser said.
Weddings became few and far between. Flowers, the heart of Botanica’s business, were no longer in demand.
"There were videos of fields in Holland getting mold down and the flowers burned, because nobody was there to buy them," explained Zoë Gallina, who works with her dad as the creative director for the studio.
The studio specializes in creating floral masterpieces and decor designed to bring a bride’s special day to life. It’s a job that can’t be done overnight.
"It’s not just what we’re working on the day of your wedding prepping that kind of stuff," said Gallina. "It’s months and hours that go into it."
So when the pandemic hit, brides' plans began to change, and things became chaotic.
"We had to move girls in some cases four times," said Prosser. "You had to redo the proposals over and over again, because as the seasons changed, so did the look of the wedding."
Now weddings are back, and Botanica is busy once again.
"We’re seeing a mixture of people booking really far out, and also last-minute, four to six weeks out," said Gallina. "So you get this crush of everybody wanting to meet right now."
Gallina is now having to help brides reimagine their rescheduled big day, while Prosser is working non-stop to bring that vision to life.
It may be busy but they’re happy to be back to business as usual.
"We come with new excitement, and we’re happy to touch flowers again. There were months that we didn’t touch anything," said Prosser.
However, as their schedule books up with dozens of couples trying to make their dream day a reality, Gallina has some advice for brides-to-be.
"Trust the people that you meet with and have a grace," she said. "Just know that we are here to help you and we are here to make your day even better than you want it to be."