The Plant Designer Who’s Upgrading Your Dozen Roses
by Abby McIntosh
Still Life Images: Bodega Rose
Portrait: Viktorsha Uliyanova
Valentine’s Day can conjure up some pretty divergent thoughts depending on how you feel about the holiday. For some, it’s a festive day filled with (too much) candy and (just enough) love (whether that be with an SO, friends, or family). For others, Valentine’s Day exists as a negative reminder of what you might not have. At Milk Makeup, we’re taking the positive parts of V-Day and running with them. Whether you choose to acknowledge the Hallmark aspects of the day or not, we think it can be a great time to shoutout your crew, gift people who make your life a bit better and take a moment or two for yourself. The Milk Fam got together to share who makes them glow, but we also linked up with rad people who have shaken up their respective V-Day-related industries to get their perspectives on the saccharine-filled 24 hours. As it turns out, V-Day has evolved in a pretty cool way. Meet native New Yorker and Plant Designer Olivia Rose.
Milk Makeup: How did you start Bodega Rose/get the idea to turn your industry on its head?
Olivia Rose: My background is in landscape architecture, but I’ve found that industry to be very traditional, only speaking to and interacting with a small, rarefied crowd. I grew up in New York and I wanted to bring that energy and drive into my work, creating objects inspired by my everyday life, by my trips to the corner store, to the basketball court, to the park. In New York, even the most mundane things can turn spectacular. So I started playing around and making planters with dead basketballs I found on the street and creating landscapes inside old newspaper stands. These are objects that have really resonated with people and I think it’s because I’m taking ordinary things and recontextualizing them, making them fun, playful and hopefully beautiful. I wanted to make the plant world more accessible to all types of people and, in the process, bring the world that I grew up in into the plant world.
MMU: What has been your biggest career milestone?
Olivia: For me, the most important recognition I’ve received has been from the wholesalers in the Flower District, who’ve been in the industry for generations. Their approval made me feel like I was onto something. I really look up to them and getting their encouragement has meant a lot.
MMU: How did you convince people you were doing something different?
Olivia: I don’t try to convince people that what I’m doing is cool because I know that trends are always cyclical. But I do know what I’m doing is on point when I see other people on Instagram in faraway places doing the same thing I was doing a couple months ago.
MMU: Was there ever a time when you thought you fucked your career up or felt scared about the direction of your future?
Olivia: Every morning. But I’m learning to let go more. There’s really no such thing as fucking up when you’re trying to create something. There are always going to be problems, but you can’t let them paralyze you. Working with plants has been very grounding; they show you that everything is cyclical and no feeling is forever. Growth, regeneration, death — they’re all part of the same cycle and there’s something comforting in that.
MMU: What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?
Olivia: Valentine’s Day brings up so many good memories of high school puppy love in New York. I remember all the boys handing out bodega roses and Snoopy chocolate boxes to all the girls they were crushing on. And when they thought you were real cute, they’d buy you the Nike Uptowns to boot. There’s something so sweet and beautiful about that.
MMU: How do you celebrate?
Olivia: I’m definitely going to go in on one of those big boxes of heart chocolates that are on sale at Rite Aid. The thing about them is half the chocolates are that nasty jelly kind so you end up only getting a few good ones anyway. Very much like dating in New York.
MMU: What are you giving your people for V-Day this year?
Olivia: I’m a plant girl and to know me is to receive plants by me. This year, my loves are getting these beautiful Shibori Anthuriums which are these pink and white splatter print heart-shaped flowers.
MMU: What does self-love mean to you? How do you practice self-love?
Olivia: Self-love is self-acceptance. It’s very easy to beat yourself up about not living up to your own potential, but you can’t spend time dwelling in that negative feedback loop. Being kind to yourself and loving yourself despite your flaws is the first step in opening yourself up to loving others, and accepting their flaws. Self-love to me isn’t about narcissism, it’s about making yourself receptive to the love of others and being able to show others love in turn.
MMU: How does Bodega Rose stand out/be fresh for V-Day?
Olivia: I tend to love the cheesiness of it all, but we are doing a special bouquet for Valentine’s Day — bodega rose in basketball ball vases. With a holiday like Valentine’s Day, I think it’s all about embracing the corniness and making it fun.
MMU: What does it mean to you to be a woman business owner?
Olivia: It means I always control the aux cord.
For more info on Bodega Rose, check out the website.