Alyssa Ferguson: On Turning Dahlias, Determination and Dreams into Reality
Photography by Phrené Hoeksema
This is a series on local style talent, where I will introduce you to some of the most stylish top talent in West Michigan. These creatives, professionals and entrepreneurs are at the top of their respective fields and have put in the blood, sweat and tears to get where they are today. They're dedicated, hard working and most of all, kind, good people. You can find them busting ceilings, re-inventing and re-thinking industries where another name, website or business is just another drop in the bucket, all while managing to help others along the way. They're the workers, the dreamers and the go-getters who are the best at doing what they do, and they do it in style.
Let me tell you ladies and gents, I am not an easily impressed person. I hold my friends, family and myself to very high standards and have a low tolerance for laziness and complacency. I realize how few of you reading this are now getting in line to be my next BFF, but the result is a group of amazingly kind, loyal and dedicated people. I hold kindness above all other traits and consider passion a pre-requisite before investing much time in a person, professionally. When I came in contact with Alyssa Ferguson (pronounced Ah-Lee-Sah), she checked both of those boxes instantly, and I was impressed. I was also very excited to meet another person who wrote as thorough and as detailed emails as me. We were introduced through a mutual contact and ended up collaborating on the Shop Local photoshoot at Jade. She provided the beautiful florals including living succulent accessories and a gorgeous flower crown, and helped style the looks in our most recent Shop Local with Mia's photo shoot, post coming soon. She is quite the "jane" of all trades, with some serious skills in floral design. Read on to learn more about this incredibly hard working and creative woman. Prepare to be inspired.
The Woman: "Create Your Vision"
Ferguson, who's hometown is Fowlerville, MI, moved to Grand Rapids in 2006 and currently lives here with her husband, Aaron and pets, a golden doodle named Otto and a bird named Jo Jo. She's a certified florist, amateur photographer, adventure lover and sweet tooth. When asked what she had wanted to be when she was growing up, she replied, "I wanted to be a Rockette! I was into competitive elite tap dancing and would travel in national dance competitions. I loved it, but had to choose sports or dancing in High School and chose sports." Her guilty pleasures consist of coffee, wine, cheese and sweets, which really makes me recall those ginormous brownies we managed to convince ourselves not to get the last time we met up at Electric Cheetah. What were we thinking? Brownies are always a good decision. She also enjoys reading, with "21 Days to a Big Idea" by Bryan Mattimore and "The Road Not Taken and Other Poems" by Robert Frost from the 100th anniversary collection next on her reading list.
Ferguson always felt the desire to be helpful to others. She originally was enrolled in a collegiate nursing program, but quickly realized that she had another calling. She describes how she made the transition into floral design, "I had applied for a sales representative position working at a local european flower shop called Andicott. I loved working there, and my gardening knowledge, because both of my parents love to garden, got me the position. Since then I have worked at 3 others floral shops, one of them being west michigan's premier floral and event company. I kept continuing to learn, grow and became certified to better educate myself in the world of floral design." She is now the owner and creative director of Fleurology Designs. She does all of her own bookkeeping, business planning and marketing among other things and actually has a passion for the business-side of things. "I have always had a split mind, half left sided and half right sided brain, being a small business owner now allows me to use both sides."
You can buy the living succulent accessories featured throughout the Shop Local: Jade post by contacting Alyssa through her website or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find her at trade and craft shows in the area as well as community events and gatherings in Grand Rapids, MI.
Ferguson keeps a "dream diary" to hold her ideas in a safe place for pondering, possible implementation and reflection. Among these has always been the dream of owning her own historic event venue. With investor on-board, within the next few months, assuming no major road blocks pop up, she'll be purchasing a historic mansion to turn into an event venue. The mansion will have the ability to host an outdoors tented space as well as six bedrooms and six bathrooms available for guests to stay overnight. Her accomplishments are racking up and she has become one of the top tier florists in West Michigan through hard work, integrity and kindness. To others looking to follow this path, she advises, "Curiosity is your best friend! Don't be afraid to break down barriers of fear and to be brave enough to dream and wonder about all of the amazing possibilities you can dream up, even if others don't understand or get it. Be daring enough to explore and seek out that curiosity! You can create your vision and inspire those you love."
The Style: "A Dress Kind of Girl"
With an ever-evolving wardrobe, Ferguson describes her style as, "all over the board, depending on how I'm feeling. I have a ton of cute simple maxi skirts aligned in my closet. I'm definitely a dress kind of girl, often wearing cute, but functional and practical clothes I can be active in." Her favorite labels, Lauren Conrad, Kate Spade and Anthropologie, totally fit her personality; warm, friendly, spirited, expressive and comforting (hellooooo Anthro home goods...I swear their bedding is made from unicorn hair or something else magical). DesignLoveFest and DesignSponge are both on the list of creative inspiration for Ferguson, along with Ellie Saab, Zuhair Murad and David Tuttera as an event designer with bridal lines.
In Michigan, having both a stylish and practical wardrobe can be difficult at times due to the unpredictable and ever-changing weather we get, especially on the lake shore. Ferguson has got that down though. "In the winter I live in my Dansko boots with arch support. They are super comfy boots with heels that are stylish and completely functional and realistic for winter. Most days you find me with just Clinique coverup and raspberry lip stain. My makeup and clothing style are both durable and long lasting. Simple is usually my style. I typically wear my air dried hair twisted up in a bun or down, weather pending." Every time I see her, she looks great; polished and pretty with a bit of prep. What I've been most impressed with from seeing how she dresses and styles herself to how she handles selecting items for shoots, is that she has a real knack for proportions. "I don't like my clothes too baggy, it does nothing for my curves! If I wear a cute, form fitting pencil skirt then I wear a flowy top, and if I'm wearing a flowy skirt, I like a more form fitting top." What made me notice her in the sea of style opinions I get during shoots sometimes is that I actually loved her suggestions. She chose things that didn't just "go" with the outfit, which IMHO, most people can do to some degree, she chose items that were interesting and editorial but would still appeal to the average woman.
The Story: "Always Be Kind to others"
Alyssa is one of those people who will win your heart over in a matter of minutes. She is so kind and generous, and it really makes me appreciate having met her. She is as intelligent as she is ambitious and as reliable and organized as they come. I was so impressed with both her organization skills and suggestions at the Jade photo shoot that I asked her to be Style Logic's first assistant stylist, having her help accessorize the looks for the upcoming Mia's post. She is so much fun to work with and I very much love how honest and kind she is.
You can tell easily that she is very passionate about making beautiful things, whether it be floral arrangements, clothing, photography, or one of her many other skills. That being said, when she's talking about flowers, her face lights up and you can tell how much she loves what she does. When asked to elaborate on her passion, she said, "I am truly and passionately obsessed with flowers and ensuring excellent service no matter how small or large the purchase from Fleurology Designs. I have always loved plants and flowers as a child and now as I've become an experienced expertise with them. From how to grow, care, cut and handle them I love speaking and talking about anything floral and plant related. The whole process has a different beautiful side to it. If I had a house with a yard I would probably grow my own flowers but for now I have a small urban garden that will have to suffice."
One more thing that I really admire about Alyssa is that she genuinely cares about helping others. If you've ever collaborated with her, you know that she never thinks twice about volunteering, assisting or even just brainstorming with you. She doesn't think, "what's in it for me?" she thinks "how can I help that person?" which is a rare type of person to know. I asked her what her advice was for others in the community and she replied, "Always be kind to others. I don't think you should ever burn bridges with someone, ever! Also, don't be afraid to collaborate! I know, it can be super awkward or scary at first but I promise you, it can be so fun and beneficial for everyone if each person is going into it with a good heart! Don't be afraid to help other professionals in your same field. I love to chat and freelance with other local florists and both parties can learn something. Plus, it's so nice to make friends with someone in your own shoes!" Preach on sister, I think these are things we would all benefit to remember.
And of course, since this is a style blog, some style advice from the lovely Alyssa Ferguson, "Don't be afraid if your style isn't the same as others, or that your style is a little outside of the box. Embrace and celebrate you and your style!"
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