Flower Power and the Magic of the Moment with Fox and the Fleur
By Natalie Bencivenga
November 11, 2020
When it comes to sustainable style, never underestimate flower power. A great addition to any space, flowers welcome us in, shine a light on a moment in time, and bring beauty into our lives.
For Anne Dickson, founder and owner of Fox and the Fleur, a career in spreading happiness through sweet-smelling bouquets happened rather accidentally. After working in fashion and marketing while in New York City, Dickson and her husband moved back to Pittsburgh with their small children, leaving her unsure of the next step.
“Transitioning to becoming a stay-at-home mom was isolating for me. We had just moved to Fox Chapel and our new home had a beautiful garden. I found myself spending more and more time out there,” she recalled.
Following in the footsteps of her mother and mother-in-law — both avid gardeners — Dickson began making arrangements for her friends and family, bringing gifts of blooms in exchange for smiles.
“It brought me a lot of fulfillment and happiness during a lonely time when I was caring for my newborn. Then the phone calls started. Everyone wanted arrangements,” she said. She began small, just shopping locally for flowers, but quickly realized that she had a budding business.
“My friend helped me with my logo. I set up a website, and off we went,” said Dickson. “I think the reason that people respond to flowers so positively is that they play such a meaningful and important role in the life of a person. There are all of these momentous occasions: Births, deaths, weddings — celebrations of all kinds. Being able to touch people’s lives in those moments through the beauty and comfort of the natural world is really a very special part of what I do as a florist,” she said.
She also believes that it is important to look at weeds, branches and other nontraditional pieces when creating arrangements to ground the work in the beauty and simplicity of the natural world.
“This living testament to nature is something that you can bring inside your home and enjoy while stretching your imagination of what is beautiful,” added Dickson. “Things you can find in your backyard can be just as beautiful and much more sustainable than roses from South America, for example,” she said.
Dickson remarked that a lot of flowers are shipped in from other countries, often containing fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals to preserve them along their journey.
“I was seeing it on my fingers, on flower petals and stems. I make a huge effort to source locally. There is a push in the industry to step away from these harmful practices and move into a safer way to handle and build arrangements,” she noted. For instance, Dickson uses chicken wire instead of toxic floral foam to hold stems in place.
Working with Eleven Mile Farm, Dickson has been able to source many varieties organically and locally. The owner, Becca Ringham, purchased this 50-acre farm several years ago and named it Eleven Mile Farm because the farm was located approximately 11 miles from Downtown, Pittsburgh. They worked to restore the overgrown acreage of native wildflowers while immersing themselves in sustainable practices that lead to healthy plants and improved soil.
Dickson and Ringham have teamed up to provide workshops like making your own arrangement or working with potted plants, so that people can get their fingers in the dirt, as well.
At the end of the day, Dickson hopes that people really will take a moment to stop and smell the flowers.
“I want people to enjoy flowers in their homes during all the stages that they move through. See how they change. It really is a meditation. They don’t last forever. Nothing does. Taking that moment to pause, reflect and find gratitude for the moment is something we can all do together. I think that is so special and worth sharing.”
By Natalie Bencivenga