1616 South 1100 East Salt Lake City UT 84105 - 801-596-2322
20 | QSaltLake | Issue 121 | February 2, 2009
(see the article here)
by JoSelle Vanderhooft
Business is blooming at Twigs Flower Company. No, really. Just take a look at all the roses, lilies and daisies in the refrigerators, each blossom colorful and full despite the chilly winter wind blowing outside.
It’s a slower Saturday for owner Raymond “Ray” King — if slower means he has a few minutes in between finishing the flower arrangements for a wedding and preparations for another project. In between customers looking for the perfect orchid to alleviate the winter gloom, King talks about the ins and outs of the floral business. Although Americans — including Utahns — consistently pick the rose as their favorite flower and King just as consistently has won awards for his roses from City Weekly, QSaltLake and others, King prefers a different flower: Professor Blau iris — a pale blue-purple member of this many-hued species. When asked if he has a least favorite, he says no.
“Well, except for the skunk flower,” he says, referring to a large, ugly and unusual plant with a very appropriate name.
King’s love for all flowers began when he was a child living on a cattle ranch in southern Colorado. After school he would help his grandmother who owned Forget-Me-Not Flowers, a tiny floral shop she ran out of her house.
“It was pretty, and different from the ranch,” he says.
Although King had always loved flowers, he only found himself thinking about working with them for a living after graduating from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. King says that he soon discovered he “wasn’t any good” at his job.
“I was too empathetic, and you can’t be that way,” he explains. “I’d take their problems home and lose sleep and dwell.”
At first, King worked for local shops like Neff Floral. But he quickly discovered that he wanted his own store. In 1989 Flower Exchange opened its doors on 900 W. 900 South, where it would remain for over two decades. Its catchier name came along in 1993, when King also briefly considered calling it Stems Flower Co.
“I thought Twigs was easier to remember,” says King. “[The customers] just held onto it.”
At one point, Twigs had locations in Cottonwood Mall and Trolley Square. Wanting to concentrate on quality over quantity, King closed those down by 2000. Today, his shop is located in Sugar House at 1100 E. 1616 South. Along with individual blossoms for those looking to surprise a friend or liven up a room, King also sells a variety of vases, garden decorations, fruit baskets and even self-described “junk food baskets,” along with flower arrangements for any occasion imaginable. And while King has created wreathes, bouquets and centerpieces for everything from funerals to luaus, he says that his favorite events are weddings and commitment ceremonies. For one upcoming wedding, he mentions that he is flying in a special kind of peony from Israel. The reason? The bride-tobe has fond memories of their smell.
“If it adds to the celebration of that day, that’s great,” he says. “Often they [people marrying or having a commitment ceremony] have planned this day for years, and often they have an exact idea of what it looks like.”
When he is not creating custom arrangements or corsages, King still spends his time working with flowers and plants. His home, he says, currently has three gardens — one for roses, one for vegetables, and one for what he calls “mixed flowers,” or different kinds of flowers growing side by side.
“I’ve got a lot of space,” he laughs.
He also attends the Kula Community Yoga Center in Salt Lake City, where he is a much-loved student and sometime-decorator.
“Owner Ray King is one of our favorite students and always brings great smiles and cheer,” reads the Local Businesses page on the studio’s Web site. “If you’ve noticed any of the arangements [sic] at the desks, they have been the gifts of Ray.”
And when the weather is nicer, King also enjoys camping, hiking, biking and hanging out with his friends. But until the days become longer and warmer, he and others can take consolation in the gorgeous blossoms that have brought Twigs awards from all over the state for as long as King has been in business.
“In here, it’s always spring,” he says.
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29 | QSaltLake | Issue 150 | March 18, 2010
Our Fabulous Wedding Vendors
(see the article here)
Raymond King is no stranger to same-sex weddings or commitment ceremonies. In the 21 years since he began his own flower business he estimates that he has created floral arrangements for at least 30 gay and lesbian couples.
“Just because we can’t legally get married, that doesn’t diminish the importance of two people’s commitment to each other,” said King, who is openly gay. “That’s why I think [flower arrangements] should be perfect that day.”
Perfection is certainly something that King knows. In the last decade his craftsmanship has won him a number of awards, including QSaltLake’s Fabby Awards for flowers and roses since the Fabbies’ founding, Salt Lake Magazine’s award for best Utah florist, and a number of Salt Lake City Weekly Best of Utah nods. He has also made it onto the prestigious preferred list of the Memorial House, a historic reception center in Memory Grove. To get on this list, said King, a wedding vendor must have a long history of excellence.
“What that means is I have to have done at least 50 weddings and not received a single complaint,” he said. “I’m proud of that.” King was also proud, he said, to help Brown and Engel plan their dream wedding.
“[When QSaltLake asked if I’d participate] I said ‘yes, of course, I want to be involved! Of course I want to give back to the community!’” he said. “I think that’s so important to make a point of giving back to the community.”
To help, King offered the couple a $500 gift certificate, which they used for corsages, bouquets and table arrangements of large Gerber (or Gerbera) Daisies in bright pink, orange, green and cream, colors which complemented the wedding cake and favored, as Brown’s admitted taste in Alice in Wonderland-style colors.
While the gift certificate was half of the minimum many Salt Lake City florists charge for wedding arrangements, King stressed that he will work within all couples’ budgets. In fact, he is one of the few florists in the city who has no minimum price for any flower order — including wedding orders. He will always do his best, he added, to work within a couple’s budget to make sure their wedding has the most beautiful flowers he can provide.
“I have people who have come in and want a wedding and only have $200,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve a beautiful wedding.”
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QSaltLake | February 28, 2010
The Big Day Approaches
(see the article here)
by JoSelle Vanderhooft
As the clock ticks closer and closer to Amanda Brown and Jessica Engel’s wedding, the two have a lot on their hands: planning the ceremony and the reception, choosing rings and, of course, deciding what to wear.
Happily, the two say they have much less stress on their minds thanks to event planner Jacqueline Riehl of Riehl Events. After meeting with Riehl for two hours on Feb. 26, both Engel and Brown say they’re feeling a lot more relieved and relaxed.
She’s just so on the ball,” said Engel. “We went over every little part and she didn’t seem stressed at all with all we had to accomplish in the next two weeks. We walked away with smiles.”
Riehl, she added, is assisting with all aspects of the ceremony at the University of Utah’s Post Chapel and reception afterward in the nearby Utah Museum of Fine Arts, from catering and attire down to the details of the sand ceremony the two want to have. In this ceremony, Brown explained, the couple, their four children and their loved ones will all add sand into a vase to symbolize the coming together of the family.
Both agree that a wedding planner is a helpful part of putting together any ceremony.
“Jacqueline has done this a hundred times and she thinks about the small things like where are you going to get the ring pillow for the ring bearer,” Brown said. “She’s kind of like the glue to everything. She’s the glue to the puzzle.”
Another part of the puzzle of the couple’s wedding is, of course, flowers. For these, Brown and Engel have turned to Raymond King, owner of Twigs Floral Company, who has won QSaltLake’s Fabby Awards for flowers and roses since the award’s founding, and kudos from a number of the state’s other publications.
“He’s just really great,” said Brown. “He’s laid back and like, ‘Oh, this is easy!’”
From King, the couple requested arrangements of Gerbera daisies, large specimens of the flower that come in a number of bright colors. Brown chose bright pink, orange and green daisies for the bridesmaids’ bouquets and asked King to make each arrangement different from the rest, to emphasize each woman’s individuality. The women have also asked the bridesmaids to purchase any dress in black and cream colors that suits their personality.
“I’m really into Alice in Wonderland,” said Brown, when asked about the flowers’ colors. “We wanted that big, chunky Alice in Wonderland feel with the bright colors,” a theme, she noted, which will be reflected in the chocolate and vanilla cake being created by their friend Linda Merkley.
“It’s whimsical, topsy turvy looking,” said Engel.
The wedding invitations are being created by Colby Su of C3 Design, who Brown says “bent over backwards” to help her and Engel when a misunderstanding arose in the number of invitations they needed. Initially, said Brown, Su was going to give them 150 invitations “but for some reason, in our excitement, we thought she said 250, which is closer to how many we invited when we gave the address list to her. But she did everything she possibly could so we’d have 250 invitations,” including charging the couple only $39 for envelopes and postage to make up the difference.
“Colby ate a lot of costs — not only her time but cost in printing — to accommodate our needs,” said Brown.
Unfortunately, the dress Engel likes the best costs much more than that. “The one,” as she calls it on the couple’s blog at lesbianmomma. wordpress.com, is an ivory taffeta trumpet gown emblazoned with pearls, crystals, sequins and beads which fits her perfectly. The only problem is the price tag: $750. To help raise the money, Engel has put a Paypal donation button on the blog’s front page and has offered her thanks to all who see fit to pitch in a few dollars. Brown, however, is still looking for her ensemble, though she has mentioned that she wants to wear a “feminine, flowy summery dress” in cream and brown colors.
“I have an idea and the wedding planner’s kind of helping me pull it together,” she said.
The couple had a little taste of the excitement to come on Feb. 25 when Mini’s Retro Café owner Leslie Fiet threw them a bridal shower. Roughly 25 people attended, said Fiet, who served appetizers including egg salad sandwiches, macaroni with smoked gouda cheese, pigs in a blanket and, of course, the café’s signature cupcakes.
“It was a lot of fun, and they were really nice,” said Fiet, who had not met Brown or Engel until around the time of the shower.
“I was really impressed with the diverse group of girls they had there, and I would probably say maybe 90 percent hadn’t been into my store before and were pleasantly surprised.”
Brown called the appetizer fare “scrumptious” and Brown said she could eat “a whole case” of the cupcakes, which included tiramisu and key lime.
“I had a really good time and enjoyed that she supported local businesses and wanted to be part of doing something special for us,” said Brown.
The couple has yet to select wedding rings, but said they are considering a number of possibilities.
Brown and Engel’s wedding will be held in a few weeks at the Post Chapel. QSalt- Lake will report on the celebration in our next issue — the Gay Wedding Guide that will hit the streets March 18.
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