Mondays. Most of us sleep in a little later than we should, complain a little more than we'd like to admit and in general, don't wake up jazzed to go to work; I've been there. I'm told all the time and I tell myself all the time, I have a "fake" job. It's a real job, yes, but I don't crunch numbers, I don't create PowerPoint presentations and I don't clock in and out. My job is to tell stories and sometimes that leads me to people and places that remind me -- I've got it so good.
On a rainy Sunday, after moving all day Saturday, I headed two and a half hours away to Salem, Oregon to meet Katie Davis. Katie is the owner of Ponderosa & Thyme, a beautiful floral design company that is both unique and timeless.
Truthfully, I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay home, put away my jumbled mess of an apartment and watch TV [we're being honest here, right?]. Whenever I start feeling bad for myself that my freelance work sometimes creeps into my weekends, this is my go-to quote to kick myself in the right direction. Most people attribute the quote to Thomas Edison, but after researching it, I'm not so confident.
Before I left Bend, I glanced at that and told myself, "It'll be worth it". A couple hours later, it was. Katie was nervous, she hadn't done very many interviews and forgot to wear mascara. As someone who has extremely blonde eyelashes, I know the horror of forgetting to put on mascara. We set-up in her studio at the Mission Mill Museum which, side note: is amazing all on its own. I'd love to go back when everything is open during the week.
Lots of photographers beg Katie to use her space for their projects and I quickly saw why. Her desk is situated right in front of a big window and throughout our interview, the only thing consistent about the light sifting through was it changed minute to minute.
It was one of those strange times where things slow down and you're lucky enough to notice the very simplest of pleasures…watching the light change.
I found Katie through Sam Rosen, a Salemian [not a Salemite -- people who live in Salem aren't fans of that one] blogger. Sam has amazing taste as you can see from a quick scroll through her Blog or Instagram. She also has an eye for talented people, she led me to Bob Dalton and his company Sackcloth & Ashes, a Salem blanket company, I did a feature on for 1859 Oregon's Magazine.
Katie was every bit as talented and real, as Sam led me to believe. She got emotional a few times talking about being able to do what she loves. I couldn't help but feel bad for the people who will never get to experience the joy of work not feeling like "work". When I met Katie, she was working on an In Memoriam arrangement for a friend's mother.
It's not the kind of work she usually takes on, but it was meaningful to her. She told me the reason she does floral design is because flowers affect people; whether they're to celebrate an accomplishment or replace words that can't be found during dark times, Katie knows flowers help people feel. I don't think any of us could hope for more from our own calling.
See below for the original article I wrote on Ponderosa & Thyme for 1859 Oregon's Magazine.
A self-described introvert-extrovert hybrid, Katie Davis, 32, usually finds herself teetering somewhere between being a reclusive floral designer and an exuberant floral design teacher.
The first wedding bouquet she made was her own. The bouquet she ordered showed up on her wedding day not matching her wedding colors, so she scrambled to make a replacement. She created flower arrangements for other people’s weddings for years after, but didn’t pursue it as a full-fledged career. Between 2009 and 2012, all her energy went into being a Zumba instructor. In 2012, a mystery illness forced her to quit.
Doctors thought Davis, who was suffering from migraines and exhaustion, had adrenal fatigue. They weren’t able to prove that, but her symptoms pointed in that direction. Davis was bedridden for several months. With no clear medical diagnosis to lean on, she had to find a job her body could handle on a daily basis.
After high school, Davis didn’t have any desire to go to college. Her parents were fine with that but wanted her to focus on a trade. In 2002, she took a few months of floral design classes from Bea King, an instructor in Salem. Ten years later, those classes were her ticket to a fresh start.
“The tapestry of my whole life has been a love of nature, flowers and people,” Davis said “When it comes down to it, that’s what I do. I love people by making them beautiful things.”
Nobody was paying her to make those beautiful things yet, so she dropped off arrangements to coffee shops around Salem for free. Her signature touch was styling pieces with more than just flowers.
“I really loved putting vegetables in my arrangements,” Davis said. She’d cut turnips in half and add them because they were, “interesting and beautiful.” She’s always had an affinity for foraging. “We’re surrounded by everything green and beautiful,” Davis said about living in the Willamette Valley. “A big part of my inspiration is Oregon.”
She launched Ponderosa & Thyme in 2013. Besides sometimes being asked to stick to a specific color scheme, Davis usually has the freedom to do whatever she wants creatively.
“When they love it, it’s like the sun comes out,” Davis said.
Floral design and styling are her bread and butter, but she’s also expanded her business to offer classes. Nervous to dive into new territory, she nearly gave the first one away. “It was really inexpensive, I just wanted to know, can what I know about teaching translate to flowers? And it did.” Davis said.
Her summer is almost completely booked with weddings. In October, she’s leading a three-day foraging and floral design retreat in Sisters. Working with flowers, she’s constantly reminded life can change forms in a matter of hours and she’s okay with that. “Making beautiful things for people that change an atmosphere will always be a part of my life,” Davis said.