A new neon marquee now calls King East home. On the sidewalk outside, a sign reads “flowers for friends,” inviting passerby’s inside. That’s the way Thuya Floral Arts feels, like a friend’s flower shop with an open invitation.
Thuya Floral Arts officially opened October 27. A large floral display and donuts helped celebrate the occasion. Despite being fresh to the downtown core, Tasha Lee Van Dinther, the owner and operator of Thuya Floral Arts, has had the studio in the works for some time.
“I have always loved plants and getting my hands dirty,” she says, “[m]y life so far had been getting my hands dirty in a different way.” Lee Van Dinther worked for over a decade in the bar and restaurant business in Montreal. Working as a florist came about from self-directed learning after hours. Early in the morning and late at night she would practice and do freelance work, until finally she decided to move to floral design full time.
“I do a lot of self-learning, and I am always trying to improve. I have tried to learn from people whose work I admire, so I can understand their theory of it.”
Despite living in Montreal for years, Lee Van Dinther is originally from Hamilton, and feels a strong connection to the city. “I felt like there was really a good energy,” she says on why she wanted to settle in the city with her new venture, “I knew I wanted to be a part of it.” Visits back to the Hamilton area made her realize that the best place for her new venture was back home.
“I basically had to transplant myself back here from Montreal, it has not been easy. But I believe in this city and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Thuya Floral arts has, along with bouquets of vibrant flowers, a selection of work by local artists. Sara Froese of All Sorts Press and graphic artist Elijah Koru both collaborated with Lee Van Dinther to make posters for the shop’s opening. Froese’s letter pressed notebooks are also available there for sale.
“I feel like I have been lucky to work with the people that I have so far… This company was started with a very collaborative spirit in mind. I want to connect with so many people.”
“I feel like it’s important to be connected to the things that you do. Working with makers on a personal level allows you to understand their process and your own. I am also able to have [products for sale] that are completely unique to my space, which is pretty damn cool in my opinion. I firmly believe in supporting other businesses and working together, you get that support in return and I have absolutely experienced that so far.”
Inspired by mood, she uses inspiration from her daily life to create her floral pieces, big and small. Working through colour palettes and different blooms, she is both focused on each piece works together visually, as well as how they will make the viewer feel. Combining greenery, bright flowers and shapes, Lee Van Dinther makes art works out of the garden grown. “Long story short, it’s a tactile experience.”
As for the design of the shop, she sought to curate a space that is modern and luxurious. Although a small storefront, her shop has velvet chairs, exposed brick, and a work area in the back. The space has an Art Deco feel, influenced by texture and comfort. The floral design, locally made wares, and décor all work together to create a retail space with a lounge vibe.
Thinking about getting a bouquet sometime soon? Tasha Lee Van Dinther encourages you to buy local.
“Things are imbued with meaning when someone has crafted them for you. There is a story behind the process of everything in here, and I am proud to share that with people.”
For more from Tasha Lee Van Dinther of Thuya Floral Arts go to @thuya.floral.arts on Instagram and @thuyaflorals on facebook.