January 19, 2013
ST. HELENA — On the heels of celebrating one year in business, Centerpiece Napa Valley in St. Helena has undergone a change in ownership. Amy Rose Fasone has transitioned from being a co-owner to sole proprietor.
While she said the last year was “exhilarating” working with fellow floral designer Denise Toohey, Fasone is excited about what is to come for her shop.
“Having a partner takes a little of the pressure off as far as the financial and administrative aspects,” she said. “But now there is one vision for the shop.”
“What sets Centerpiece Napa Valley apart from most flower shops is my vision and what I want to present to my clients,” Fasone said.
Instead of ordering her flowers over the phone or via the Internet, Fasone makes several trips each week to the San Francisco wholesale flower market.
“Going to the market is an experience in itself,” Fasone said. The floral business has been in many of the vendors’ families for generations, she said, which means they have good connections to the growers.
“It’s that connection to the growers that is totally important when you are trying to get the best-quality product,” Fasone added. She said she also enjoys the camaraderie she has with the vendors. “They know my name and exactly what I like. It’s like a big family down there.”
In addition to the flower market, Fasone also sources flowers from many local growers.
Going to the market and buying from local growers allows Fasone to hand-select all of her floral inventory.
“To hand-pick everything really makes a difference,” she said. “It really sets me apart from other florists.”
Fasone said she also looks for the more unusual botanical pieces. “What you usually see in the normal bouquet, the standard daisy or liatris, I go outside of that norm,” she said. “And I go for natural, seasonal looks. I don’t buy outside of the seasons.”
Fasone said creating flower arrangements around the seasons allows her to provide her clients with a higher-quality product at a better price. “If you are getting married in August and you want peonies, there is no way you’ll find a decent-looking one,” she said. “I try to stress that to my clients and for them to also think about what the cost is going to be.”
When flowers are forced out of their season, Fasone said, they just don’t last. So, when a client does want something not in season, she shows them alternatives. “There are many ways to bend the rules in nature and get around them, but still keep with a particular look of a flower and what a client wants,” she said.
“It’s the shape of flowers that gets people excited and is memorable for them,” she added.
Fasone stresses that smell is not as important as shape, color and texture. “Flowers speak many languages to people,” she said. “And like music, flowers are a memory thing. People remember what their mother’s favorite flower was.”
Fasone calls her approach to floral design “rangy.”
“‘Rangy’ means doing things how you would see it in nature,” she said. “You can see through an arrangement how you can see the trees through the forest. You are able to see a plant that is behind another in the foreground.”
Fasone says creating arrangements this way makes for a more interesting piece. “The elements used are so different that you are interested in how it is put together,” she said.
Fasone said she finds inspiration from looking at the natural world around her, as well as from floral design posts on the social-media website Pinterest.
“I do a lot of research, whether it is looking at paints or even different types of metal,” she said. “My mind is always looking for new textures and color combinations.”
While she is always finding new inspiration, Fasone said she doesn’t have arrangements in her head waiting to be made. “I think floral design needs to have spontaneity,” she said. “That is what keeps things fresh.”
This approach to floral design can be seen through her shop.
“Centerpiece is definitely a sensory experience,” Fasone said. “When you walk through the door there are so many kinds of natural smells. Visually, it’s got anything from pots to mushrooms — it’s very botanic.”
The business continues to grow. Last week, Centerpiece Napa Valley moved to a larger space on Vidovich Avenue in St. Helena’s Vineland Station. More room will allow her to develop even further a “community” feeling that is one of the goals of Centerpiece Napa Valley, Fasone said.
“Our goal was to provide a service that wasn’t in the area, and to be an information center that people could come to,” she said. “We wanted to be community-driven.”
Customers interested in the flower world can take part in the many workshops held at the shop.
“We have done workshops in flower design, succulent wreaths, terrarium building,” Fasone recalled. “Also, we’ve made salt scrubs and room sprays using the essential oils from flowers.”
The workshops usually range in price from $75 to $125 per person, she said, and each class has no more than 13 people.
The community workshops will continue to be a part of the shop as she moves into her second year of business, Fasone said. She is also planning to expand her services into prop rental.
“Meeting with a lot of brides, I am finding out what they are having a hard time finding,” she said. “Like ladders and things of that nature for staging of different types of themes that can be incorporated into floral design.”
Centerpiece Napa Valley
• 1286 Vidovich Ave., Vineland Station, St. Helena