Minneapolis floral company, Kindred Blooms (formerly Whimsy Designs), is known for creating organic style pieces that are inspired by color and texture. Did we mention the owners are also hilarious sisters? We got to hang out with Alexia and Emma Kelsey at Urban Bean Coffee (and later at Alexia’s home) to chat about working with family, how they got their start, their exciting rebrand, and how they remember to take time to focus on taking a break from business to be best friends.
How long have you guys worked together?
Alexia: Our whole lives! Since Emma was born.
Emma: Well, we’ve been in business for just over four years. We say three though because the first year just… didn’t really count. But we’ll say four years. We got our LLC four years ago.
How did you know you wanted to work together?
Alexia: It was kind of our husbands’ idea, actually, because we were throwing these really elaborate parties for our friends…
Emma: Spending copious amounts of money on it.
Alexia: And they said you guys are kind of good at this, we think this is something you should consider doing professionally. So it came about that we started by doing event planning and floral design and then decided quickly that the event planning wasn’t really for us as much. We enjoyed the pretty part more than the planning part.
Emma: And I think for me, I’ve always wanted to work with flowers…
Alexia: Our mom was a florist…
Emma: …since I was a little kid. We’re six years apart, and so when our mom had our business Alexia was a little older and I tended to be around a lot when she was arranging. She would transform our whole living room into a cooler, essentially, and would work in there. And so she would have me stand and swirl and stir the glue she used, so I would just sit there for hours stirring glue. I would go to wedding events with her and stuff like that, so I really grew up in that. She was a huge gardener. So I think when we started with the event planning it seemed like fun at first and then eventually the floral just seemed to feel a little more important. It opened us up to a lot of opportunities to work with a lot of other great creatives in the Twin Cities, which was the biggest thing for us.
Alexia: Yeah that was kind of the…
(Both start explaining at the same time then end with…)
Both: … turning point for us…
Emma: …in business, because when we took away all that then all of a sudden people that we were their direct competition, we were no longer their direct competition and we were able to work with them.
Alexia: We went on an introductory spree. Like we basically interviewed every single vendor that was relevant or like-minded in the Twin Cities, and that was basically how we forced our way into the Minneapolis wedding scene (laughs).
Emma: We always say one of the biggest things to us is actually finding people that their clients and they both align with our style, because I think that there is enough business to go around, and so it’s really important to be working with people that you’re the right fit with for so many reasons. As a creative to feel first and foremost validated in your designs because someone came to you for your designs, not because they just need a florist and they want to just give you a picture and re-create it.
How would you say your style is?
Emma: I like to think it’s a balance between modern and bohemian. I think we love to work with organic shapes and we focus a lot on texture and color. Color is really big to us. We won’t pick a flower that isn’t that right tone.
Alexia: Our wholesaler wants to kill us half the time because we will go exchange things that he pulls for us because it’s not exactly the color that we want it to be and we don’t feel bad about saying, ‘No, that’s not specifically right.’
Emma: I think that’s what sets you aside at the end of it. I mean, there are so many florists, there’s so many people, and I think when you’re able to really hone in on those colors and those blooms that speak to you, that’s what will really set your style apart.
When did you decide to rebrand from Whimsy Designs to Kindred Blooms?
Alexia: It’s difficult to say when we fully made the decision to rebrand. After about a year-and-a-half in business, we both felt like we stopped identifying with the name Whimsy. It’s original implication was about our sense of design…an ‘organic whimsy’ we called it. We still believe that to be true, but the name Whimsy itself, seemingly didn’t fit with our brand anymore. Our straightforward, funny sarcastic selves didn’t really seem to jive with this more frilly title. Our sense of design has also evolved in that time to be something a bit more sophisticated.
Why do you typically meet clients at Urban Bean Coffee?
Alexia: There’s a couple reasons why we pick it, but it’s quiet.
Emma: Everybody who is here is working. We love the owner and we love that it’s quaint, it’s local, and feels really personal. It’s unique, and I think when we’re out meeting a client, we want them to get a sense of our personal style by the place that we pick, since we have a home studio they can’t see.
We think that place reflects it pretty well on both of our aesthetics because I’m a little bit more like weird, which the art portrays, and she’s a little bit more modern, which I feel like the clean, white portrays.
Alexia: It’s an impressive space without being overbearing.
What is your dynamic like?
Alexia: Oh, we fight. But we usually can get over it pretty quickly. I think one of the best and worst parts about being in a business relationship with a family member is that you can be brutally honest. I think a lot of times in business relationships, people have a difficult time actually telling each other how they feel about things and if something is bothering them or if they don’t like something that they’ve done; they’ll keep it inside which actually harbors a lot more negative energy in the business relationship, but with us, we just literally tell the other person, ‘I don’t like that.’ Sometimes their feelings get hurt temporarily, but you get over it because they’re your family and family’s first. You have no other choice but to just move on and keep creating.
We take on different roles, like she takes on more of a creative leadership, and I’m much more of the business end of the business. Although we collaborate and work with each other on the floral designs, she really takes the reins in that realm.
How often are you together outside of work?
Emma: Probably an unhealthy amount (laughs). We’ve spent every day this week together, but that’s due to what the week has looked like. We spend at least two days a week together.
Alexia: (Nods head). Yeah.
Emma: Yeah. Sometimes we’re going through spans where we’re not hanging out as friends…
Alexia: I was just going to say, a lot of the hanging out we do…
Both: …is business…
Alexia: …oriented, and it actually kind of sucks because you realized we don’t actually…
Both: ..spend as much…
Alexia: … quality time with one another. Like actually go out and have fun.
Emma: Or do normal people things.
Alexia: Like we sit there and write invoices and watch Grey’s Anatomy (laughs).
Emma: Right, or like catch up on Walking Dead and then invoices don’t get written and we have to rewind every five seconds. I think that’s what I would honestly say is the hardest part about working with family is the fact that you work with them so much on business stuff that sometimes that aspect of your relationship gets neglected. Before, and the whole reason we went into business together, is because we were best friends and because we hang out and have so much fun together. And so I think in a lot of ways it’s transformed our relationship for the good and the bad, because I think that sometimes we are lazy about making sure we’re spending fun times together, but then you do things like Styled for Good, which is work, but it’s fun. We get to sit back, have a drink, and relax.
Do you still have dinner parties and get-togethers?
Emma: We do, just not as often as we should.
Alexia: Okay, so we all lived together for four years: the two of us, our husbands, and our dogs… all together in one house for four years.
Emma: We both got engaged while we lived there, it was a very transformative time in our lives.
Alexia: We had a big, beautiful yard and a big, beautiful deck, so it was a great entertaining space to bring all of our friends over before, and it’s harder now. I mean, we’d like to more. She’s moving into a house this summer, so hopefully we can do some more entertaining.
Emma: Yeah I thought I didn’t want a yard to take care of and turns out that’s not true (laughs).
What are your favorite hangout spots?
Alexia: We like to do a lot of eating. We go to lunch…
Emma: Lunch is like our meal. We have spots for different tasks. If we’re doing yard work we love Clancey’s, which is a meat shop that has amazing sandwiches, or we like to go to Brothers Bar & Grill and we get big, bulky sandwiches. Big sandwiches and yard work slows you down, but we don’t care.
Alexia: And when you have a busy work day and you have 15 minutes to eat you pound down a sushi burrito from SotaRol.
Emma: But as far as hanging out spots are concerned, we enjoy going to the North Loop. We like anywhere where you can get a nice, craft cocktail.
Favorite things about each other?
(Both just start chuckling)
Emma: So you mean, like, something I like about her?!
Alexia: I really like her talent that makes us money (laughs).
Emma: I really like her responsibility because it makes us money (laughs).
Alexia: But actually, though, she’s really funny and she’s super fun to be around. I mean, we’re best friends. It’s hard to hone in on what you like most about your best friend, you just love them.
Emma: And especially a sibling, too. She’s my big sister, she’s six years older than me. Like I grew up literally…
Alexia: She likes to emphasize the six years…
Emma: But I mean, no…
Alexia: Yes. She’s always like, ‘This is my much older sister.’
Emma: Well I mean let’s be real, whenever anyone guesses they always guess I’m older. But no, I think when you’re growing up and I’m 10 and she’s 16 and I always felt I emulated her and I think it’s fun growing up and being adults and starting to feel more of equals rather than when she was hanging out with me she was doing me a favor.
Emma: I think what I like and dislike most is that no matter what we can always pick up on whatever energy..
Alexia: Just like the slightest bit of tone…
Emma: It’s both good and bad, because in situations where you’re not able to speak up for yourself like if you’re talking to a wedding vendor and I obviously wasn’t feeling comfortable, she would be like ‘She doesn’t like that’ when I couldn’t say it myself.
Emma: Because she can just tell. And that’s the difference between having a best friend and having a best friend that’s your sibling and a sister. That’s a different relationship and everyone that has a sister understands. It’s a love/hate. You fiercely love them and you fiercely hate them.
Alexia: There’s a scene Emma loves to quote in [The Secret Life of] Walter Mitty where it’s her online dating application and there’s Things I Love and it says ‘My sister’ and Things I Hate and it says…
Both: … ‘my sister.’
Anything to add?
Alexia: It will be difficult to say goodbye to the name Whimsy. We started our little business with that name, and have gained a reputation in the business with it. We are literally known as ‘the Whimsy girls.’ We know that our industry will be supportive of the change, and look forward to the new face of our business as Kindred Blooms.
Want to work with these adorable sisters? Visit their website or call (612) 327-1481 and stay tuned for their re-brand!
Photos by + Elizabeth Lucille Photography