More than flowers
As a very shy, awkward and creative young person, I couldn't relate to many kids. I was into stamp collecting, sewing and gardening. I loved fixing and building things. While kids were at the pool, I was figuring out how to wallpaper my bathroom (I was 12). Flash forward to early adulthood, the job market had tanked, the economy was in shambles, and I sat at my work desk reflecting hard on what could possibly bring optimism back into my life. A lightbulb went off. Then and there, somewhere near Broadway and 59th St, I decided that I was on a mission to work with my hands again.
Unknowingly, in 2009, I started my floral design journey - Floral Design 101 at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. By 2015, I'd completed the Floral Design Certificate Program at New York Botanical Garden. I didn’t have a destination. Turns out, you don't need one when you simply enjoy what you do. The next thing I knew, years had passed, and much happened that doesn't fit here. I met, and continue to meet, some of the most talented and interesting people whom I have the pleasure of calling friends, clients and colleagues. I continue to learn in earnest any way I can because, truly, this journey is never done. My mission is to bring that glimmer of hope to others through the work we do at Brave.
To all the people out there that feel othered, the independent thinkers, the ones who march to the beat of their own drums: Keep going. Find your joy. I dedicate Brave to you.
-Valerie, Founder & Creative Director; Continuing Education Faculty at New York Botanical Garden; Mama to my kiddos first and foremost
OUR APPROACH & CULTURE
Brave Floral is an independent flower shop & creative studio crafting seasonally-considered, neo-traditional botanical designs for every day occasions, special events, and weekly installations for our retail and hospitality clients.
Brave Floral is derivative of our owner, Valerie Braverman's, last name. At first, it was selected because it had a nice ring to it, but as time went on, it's formed a bit of a double entendre: Brave. We're no stranger to helping craft a Batman-themed floral arrangement for a comic book fanatic, or design an entire wedding based on the notion of a "blob". We're a group of quick-thinkers, problem-solvers, and, perhaps, the craftiest people you'll ever meet. We may do things a little differently, but that's what we love about the work we do.
We are human. And we love love. And yes, we believe child-bearing persons have a right to choose without explanation. Yes, we believe that kids' rights are more important than a gun's rights. Yes, we proudly support independent, woman-owned, minority-owned, lgbtq+ owned businesses, vendors and artists.
The great garden state
When available, we source our botanical goods from local farms located within 99 miles of Maplewood. These local blooms are hyper-seasonal, and fleeting. No two weeks in the shop are the same between April and October.
We are incredibly proud to work with farmers and growers who pay themselves and their staff a living wage. They grow varieties that are not necessarily sold in the mainstream market of flowers. And because we speak to them directly, we hear about the story of a particular variety or how they came to grow their favorite plants quite often. We value being a part of this local ecosystem and economy, and actively support within our community however possible.
The local mindset carries over to much of what we do on an everyday basis. We try our best to source from small, New Jersey-based businesses rather than big box stores for everything from pens to postcards.
We recognize that our industry generates an exponential amount of waste. Even just cutting a fresh flower and disposing of it after just a few days generates waste. When we think of the volume of florals needed for, say, an event, then multiply that by every possible event going on in the world on that given day... we can't even fathom it.
We cannot in our own conscious call ourselves "sustainable," but we can say we are earnest in our efforts to do better for our planet. We:
- Work to avoid floral foam at all costs in our design mechanics for both retail and events. If you're curious about why floral foam is so awful, take 5 minutes to read this fantastic article.
- Implement recyclable or reusable goods in our packaging.
- Reduce botanical waste through our composting partner Java’s Compost.
- Offer store credits for vases returned to us in excellent condition from Brave-designed floral arrangements (contact us if you have questions about this).
Every day, we are adding to our community of friends, florists, growers, farmers, and vendor partners who align with practices to better the environment in their respective industries. We are constantly learning how to better our business in this perspective.
Tiny, but Mighty
Our team of experienced and budding retail associates, designers, production assistants, and more come from an array of education backgrounds ranging from New York Botanical Garden, New York Flower School, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, University of Delaware, University of Illinois, and Seton Hall University, plus design training with various shops and studios based in New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia.
We're big fans of career changes. If you're interested in joining our team, see our open positions.