I grew up in South Louisiana, on Houmas House Plantation grounds. The house, a sugar plantation from the mid 1700s, is surrounded by lush gardens an towering oaks more than 300 years old. It is a tourist attraction, bringing tourists from all over the world. My father, Craig Black, was the landscaper and contractor on the property. He was the caretaker, and has been for 38 years. From the time I could walk, and probably even before, I followed daddy around that property, planting things, un-planting things, laying bricks, pulling weeds, watering things, imagining fairies, gnomes, and all sorts of things that would please little girls.
I was not, however, a girly little girl. I was as messy as they come, and pretty much always smeared with dirt, grass stains, sweat (it WAS Louisiana, after all), blood from a skinned knee or elbow, or who knows what else! To get me into a dress was a huge feat! I played in the gardens, and learned by doing. I learned what plants were what, how to put things in dirt, how to water things to make them happy, what were weeds, what were baby seedlings... I just followed daddy around and soaked up his knowledge. I played in the sun, the rain, the fog... whatever nature decided to give me. My hands were always dirty, and my mind was always wandering.
As I got older, my imagination did not falter. I always day-dreamed and read books under the trees (and often IN the trees). I drew and sketched... and got passably good at drawing. My daddy is an amazing painter, and when I was young, I SO loved to admire that art and figured I would be able to paint that way someday! Little did I know then, that a bit of paint on your clothes and a painter for a father does not make you a painter. I have always been WAY too impatient to paint much more than my kitchen. I did have that love of art, though, and I went on to art school. I knew I needed design in my life, even if at that point I had no idea how to implement it!
After Art school, I went to CU Boulder for Linguistics. I thought I might want to teach. Turns out, I had no patience for children. I went out after college to get a 'real job'. I thought for sure I should be a high-powered, suit-wearing business woman. I was in sales, managed restaurants, I was in customer service for many years and managed large teams in call-centers, did interior design, helped open restaurants and bars, build wine lists, I sold mortgages, knives, security systems, carpet, cars, furniture, and pretty much anything that seemed like it'd make money. I was good at all of those things, and when I quit each position, my bosses were surprised. I was just not happy! Not fulfilled. I moved on to the next venture, SURE that it would be right for me.
I worked in a flower shop in college. I made less than 8 bucks an hour. I was also bartending at the time, making hundreds of dollars a night. I adored the flower shop. I got to play with flowers, cut them, make pretty things, and have people buy them! I soaked up as much knowledge as I could when I worked there. Little did the owners know, I would have done it for free... I loved it so much! I continued, throughout my roundabout career path, to do freelance floral and weddings here and there. I loved doing them, and in college, I dreamed of having a flower shop. In 2011, my husband saw me working with flowers one day, and saw what I should be doing. We started Bella Calla in 2011, and haven't looked back. Now I get to make a living building my flower shop into a place I hesitate to leave at the end of the day. I work, happily, long crazy hours, building the business, and making people happy with flowers!
I get to come to work, dig in the dirt, and play with flowers and plants all day. I adore what I do, and my passion comes through in my business. We have grown extremely fast, and my team is very good at putting up with all of the changes that Bella Calla goes through as we grow! We've gone from 16 weddings in 2012 to 125 this year in 2013! Our clients love us, and we love working for them! This blog will let you keep up with what we're doing, see photos of our creations and our weddings, give you really good info about plants and flowers, design ideas, and lots of info about how to improve life with growing things! We hope you come back soon! I adore what I do, and my passion comes through in my business. We have grown extremely fast, and my team is very good at putting up with all of the changes that Bella Calla goes through as we grow!
Want info on a particular topic? Email or comment! :)
About the Author...
Lilli Black is the owner of Bella Calla, a full-service high-end florist in Denver Colorado. She has been in the design industry for 15 years, and was raised around plants, flowers, and art. Bella Calla has allowed her love of all things growing, and her love of all things lovely to come together. 303.995.2867