My Life in Blossom

An Interview with Harry Simpson

An Interview with Harry Simpson

I grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania, where I learned how to grow and care for plants from an early age. My parents were both farmers, so they taught us everything they knew about growing food and raising animals. They raised chickens, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, turkeys, rabbits, and guinea fowl. We even had a few llamas! When I was 10 or 12, I got my first job working in their greenhouse. It was there that I learned how to prune trees and plant seeds.
I obtained a certificate in floral design. In college, I took classes in horticulture, botany, and landscape architecture. I also spent time studying the history of gardening and agriculture. The coursework helped me understand the importance of plants in our lives.
After graduating, I began working for a small florist in downtown Pittsburgh. At first, I just designed arrangements for weddings and funerals. Eventually, I became more involved in creating custom designs.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a flower designer?

I started designing flowers when I was in high school, and my mother encouraged me to pursue it as a career. She had been an amateur florist for many years, but she also loved painting, so we would always do art together. Such a nice break from farming life! I studied floral design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. After graduating, I worked for several local florists until I opened my shop in 1998.

An Interview with Harry Simpson

Why do you like to be a flower designer?

My favorite thing about being a florist is that I get to create something from nothing. It’s like magic! I love that it’s not just me who gets to decide what goes into my creations; I try to understand what my clients want, and then I help them find exactly what they are looking for. It’s a fantastic job! Flowers are such beautiful things that they can make people feel good just by looking at them. They’re so versatile! You can use them for decorating or entertaining. They have so much personality.

How long have you been working on this business?

I have been doing this full-time since 1998.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I wish for my business to thrive and maybe even expand. I have a dream of opening a retail store where I can share my passion for flowers with others.

How long does it take to create one bouquet?

A typical arrangement takes anywhere from two to three days, depending on the type of flowers used—the more time spent creating, the better the finished product’s quality.

An Interview with Harry SimpsonWhat is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is finding new materials and techniques to use in my designs. 

How do you get inspiration for your work?

When I’m not working, I love traveling. I find inspiration everywhere – from museums, parks, architecture, and nature.

I also like reading magazines and books about gardening and interior design.

An Interview with Harry SimpsonWhat advice would you give to aspiring floral designers?

Start small and build slowly. Before starting your own business, you may want to try some freelance projects first. Also, don’t forget to enjoy yourself while doing this kind of work.

What’s the best advice you can give to a young floral designer?

My tip for aspiring designers is never to stop learning. Keep reading, attending classes, taking workshops, and talking to other professionals in your field.

What do you like to do when you are not at work?

I love spending time with my family and friends. We love traveling and going out to eat.

An Interview with Harry Simpson