Entrepreneur forages for wild flowers

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Entrepreneur forages for wild flowers

Thu, 07/04/2019 - 7:31am -- tim

by Danny Monahan
Small Business Administration

Photo: Erin Ostreicher, Owner and Founder of Nectar and Root. Photo by Danny Monahan.

To her it’s a treasure hunt. Roaming the countryside and walking through the woods turning over rocks and pulling back tree limbs, all to find the perfect gem.  Many times, she doesn’t know what she's after. She will know it when she sees it.

Erin Ostreicher, a 33-year-old florist, is looking for wild plants, flowers and whatever else is blossoming to decorate an upcoming wedding. She has about six nurseries and a few flower shops she frequents, she grows her own as well, but foraging is her favorite method for arranging flowers.

“We spend a great deal of time foraging through Vermont’s fields, farmers markets, plant nurseries, and flower farms for the best, most genuine products for our clients, oftentimes incorporating rare materials that can’t be sourced anywhere else,” said Ostreicher.

Photo: Erin Ostreicher, Owner and Founder of Nectar and Root. Photo by Danny Monahan.

Ostreicher is the owner and founder of Nectar and Root, a wedding floral design business in Winooski. She never thought she would be an entrepreneur, but always loved floral design and has since first grade.

Growing up in Connecticut drawing bouquets and arranging flowers she found throughout her neighborhood was fun, but it never seemed like it could be a realistic career. When she went to college in upstate New York, she majored in creative writing and often found herself writing about flowers.  After graduation, she worked at a bookstore in Burlington where she spent countless hours reading all the flower-related works the store had to offer. During this time, she knew if she wanted to work in the floral industry she just had to go for it.

Photo: Floral arrangement. Courtesy photo.

In 2010, she took a class and earned a certificate in Floral Design from the New York Botanical Gardens’ Summer Intensive Program in New York. Temporarily living back home in Connecticut, she started growing flowers and selling them at local farmers markets. At the market, people were always commenting about how much they liked her arrangements and were asking if she did floral arrangements for weddings.  She wanted to pursue the offers, but Nectar and Root at the time was basically a booth at a farmers market. When Ostreicher returned to Vermont, she knew she needed to turn her venture into a legitimate business, so she sought the assistance of Simeon Geigel, a counselor with the Micro Business Development Program in Burlington. With the help of Geigel and the MBDP, Ostreicher learned how to create a business plan, register her business and market her services.

“Her growth as a successful entrepreneur has been an evolution. Erin’s willingness to ask questions, seek input, analyze situations and follow her heart has allowed her to take calculated steps forward to grow her business,” said Geigel.

For a first few years, she worked out of a small rented studio space on Pine Street in Burlington. As she worked more weddings, she got to know more people in the wedding industry and through word of mouth, her business picked up.  All the while, she was working out of a cramped space that was not ideal for arranging large bouquets of flowers or meeting potential clients.  In 2018, a storefront became available, so she moved Nectar and Root to West Canal Street in Winooski. There she can meet with clients and there is an area for housing and arranging flowers. In that first year at her new location, Nectar and Root provided floral design for 37 weddings. In the last three years, her work has been featured in Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot.

“It’s great being able to do something I love. One of the strangest things about this is how I will be wearing a beautiful dress one day at this gorgeous wedding surrounded by my work and the very next day I’m out in the woods covered in dirt looking for whatever bloomed that morning,” said Ostreicher.

Ostreicher has been named the 2019 Vermont Young Entrepreneur by the Small Business Administration. To compete for the award, small business owners must be 35 or younger.