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Jessica Sparzak, BloomTV

Published:

My path to a creative career has been a circuitous one. As a child, I was always creating and crafting—trying to sell my designs to the neighborhood. During my teenage years, I became passionate about nonprofit work, which led to a decade-long career in that sector. While working at a nonprofit in New York City, I often spent lunches exploring the flower district and gathering blooms to design for fundraising events. Eventually, I started designing for weddings and parties on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so when my daughter was born in February of 2011, I pursued this passion and began a program in floral design education. However, these plans were interrupted when my husband took a new position in Colorado and uprooted us from New York City.

 

I loved New York, and I didn’t want to leave. Colorado felt dry, far, and landlocked. Not long after our arrival, I became pregnant with our son. His birth changed everything, and my dreams of creating a floral design business were again put on hold. My baby boy arrived too early; his little body was full of infection, so we rushed him to the NICU. In the midst of our delirium, my fever spiked. We spent 72 sleepless hours with doctors and nurses trying to determine what was happening. I had developed multiple infections that had spread to my entire body. Then, my breathing became more and more labored. 

I can remember looking over at my sweet newborn son sleeping next to me and my amazing husband resting, slumped over in a plastic hospital chair. Time stood still. I thought, “Should I wake them? Should I say goodbye? I’m not going to make it. Something is terribly wrong, and I’m scared.” Within hours, I was rushed for testing and learned that my fears were not exaggerated. I had two pulmonary embolisms, and my life was hanging by a thread. When I left the hospital, I was overwhelmed. I had a port in my arm to receive IV antibiotics for six weeks. I had a home care nurse assigned to visit me and administer medications two times a week. I was instructed to not lift the baby. I was frail, and I was sad. So sad. 

Time moved slowly. I remember reading an article about a woman who owned a flower company. I devoured it, fantasized about it, and then I tucked it away in my mind for a time. I had babies that needed me and a body that desperately needed healing. Within a few weeks, I took a turn for the worse; each breath brought excruciating pain. After many trips to the ER and visits to specialty doctors, we discovered that I had dislocated multiple ribs during my son’s birth. The chronic and severe pain continued on for years. The first seven months were by far the worst. I couldn’t hold my son—when I tried, it hurt, and my body wasn’t strong enough. The entire right side of my body atrophied. I had dropped to 98 pounds. Ninety-eight pounds might sound like a great problem, but I was a shell of myself. Utterly lost, intense depression became part of my everyday life. 

Dry Bush of Desert Tumble Weed on White Background

 

Randomly, one day my father-in-law gave me a giant tumbleweed; he knew that I was fascinated by them. I took a look at the giant weed, and something in it inspired me. I found a pair of clippers and started sculpting, my baby boy cooing beside me in his baby Bumbo. The process hurt. Tumbleweeds are covered in thorns and spines. I would yelp out in pain, on top of pain I was already experiencing. When I was done shaping that tumbleweed, I sewed her onto a piece of burlap stretched over a frame, and then I hung her on the wall. I sat down and wept. That stupid old weed. That invasive tumbleweed. It was beautiful. I wept more. At that moment, I loved all of it. Colorado. My pain. My sorrow. 

Weeds. Unwanted, invasive. 

Trials. Same. 

And yet, both can be beautiful. 

It’s what we do with them. 

The therapy of taking an unwanted ball of thorns and creating beauty shifted me. I eventually started foraging for other weeds. Creating with them, feeling the pain, pushing through to the beauty. 

Years later, I started my flower company and decided that prickly, dried weeds had to be part of it. I named the company Pickletown Flower Co because that’s where it all started. In a little neighborhood nicknamed Pickletown, known for nearly a century as a place where neighbors looked after each other, and continue to today. My husband and I started what we called a “sharing garden” where friends and neighbors gathered to grow vegetables and flowers. We held monthly harvest dinners under the lights and stars. We began sourcing flowers from the garden for my little business; from there, the company blossomed.

The business officially launched in the summer of 2019. I traveled around in my flower truck — foraging, selling, and grinning ear to ear. As we all know, COVID hit the world shortly thereafter and brought all of us to a screeching halt. I pivoted, panicked, and pivoted again. I’m still pivoting! We now offer fresh and dried flowers and ship nationwide. We get up on ladders and install the most beautiful faux flowers on the exteriors of storefronts. But my favorite part of all is the dried installations; dried, old weeds woven into each one. It’s grounding and the most creative thing I do. 

My Process

I let the space inform my process. Whether it’s someone’s home, a boutique wall, a commercial lobby—I let the colors, textures, and environment take the lead. I bring everything but the kitchen sink when I show up because I rarely know how a project will come together, which is exhilarating. Sometimes I paint the weeds and other elements. Sometimes I leave them in their natural state. I often tell clients and workshop participants that “Nature isn’t a factory. She doesn’t make things the same way twice. Let the element guide you. If it curves to the right, go with it. If it curves to the left, go with that.” This wild flow is how the art is formed. 

When I forage, I employ a few tools and tricks. Long pants and sleeves, closed-toe shoes, and thick gloves are essential. I use long- and short-handle clippers and bring along large cardboard boxes and garbage bags. When foraging for invasive species, I am careful to knock the seeds into the cardboard box or garbage bag to prevent dispersal. 

I never stop foraging, and I’m infinitely curious about what else is out there. I love finding unique grasses, pods, pieces of wood, and dried plants. The options and creative possibilities are endless with foraging. In the winter, I cut evergreen and pine shoots from our yard. When I visit family in Florida, I come home with a bag stuffed full of goodies—air plants (which dry well!), Spanish moss, palmetto leaves. In California and Puerto Rico, I forage the endless pampas grass you see just off the roadways. Eventually, I would love to learn to weave palms and reeds. Hopefully, I’ll be able to travel and learn from other cultures and regions about how they use foliage, grasses, and weeds. 

Once I have all of my foraged and purchased products gathered, I use nails, hooks, wire, and chicken wire to affix the art onto the wall. It’s a rather simple, bare-bones setup. I usually put on headphones and get immersed in the moment. Cursing here and there when I stab myself with yet another thorn, then smiling because I know the beauty that comes out of it. I remember and know all too well that this is my one and only life. I have decided to accept what comes, embrace the pain, bear the hardships, and use it for beauty. 

My Creative Expression

With my flower company, there’s a never-ending opportunity to be creative. We take the bits and pieces that would otherwise be discarded, such as hydrangea flowerlets, bits of greenery, bunny tails, and phalaris, and we turn them into beautiful holiday ornaments. Again, taking the unwanted and showing off its beautiful value. We make hair pieces, hat bands, dried arrangements, bouquets, and wall art. 

When I first started with my flower truck, I intentionally wanted a mobile studio because it allowed me to take the floral experience to people. That passion continues to be a significant part of Pickletown. We provide private workshops, flower bars, and experiences. We offer virtual workshops and floral crafting kits. I’m constantly thinking of more ways to make our flowers and creativity accessible to people. I’m a lover of community by nature. One of my questions to myself is always: How can I bring others into this? How can I give them this experience? And at Pickletown, these questions and desire to create experiences will continue to drive what we do. 

 

For more on BloomTV, go to: www.BloomTVNetwork.com and BloomTV.Network on Instagram.

My path to a creative career has been a circuitous one. As a child, I was always creating and crafting—trying to sell my designs to the neighborhood. During my teenage years, I became passionate about nonprofit work, which led to a decade-long career in that sector. While working at a nonprofit in New York City, I often spent lunches exploring the flower district and gathering blooms to design for fundraising events. Eventually, I started designing for weddings and parties on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so when my daughter was born in February of 2011, I pursued this passion and began a program in floral design education. However, these plans were interrupted when my husband took a new position in Colorado and uprooted us from New York City.

 

I loved New York, and I didn’t want to leave. Colorado felt dry, far, and landlocked. Not long after our arrival, I became pregnant with our son. His birth changed everything, and my dreams of creating a floral design business were again put on hold. My baby boy arrived too early; his little body was full of infection, so we rushed him to the NICU. In the midst of our delirium, my fever spiked. We spent 72 sleepless hours with doctors and nurses trying to determine what was happening. I had developed multiple infections that had spread to my entire body. Then, my breathing became more and more labored. 

I can remember looking over at my sweet newborn son sleeping next to me and my amazing husband resting, slumped over in a plastic hospital chair. Time stood still. I thought, “Should I wake them? Should I say goodbye? I’m not going to make it. Something is terribly wrong, and I’m scared.” Within hours, I was rushed for testing and learned that my fears were not exaggerated. I had two pulmonary embolisms, and my life was hanging by a thread. When I left the hospital, I was overwhelmed. I had a port in my arm to receive IV antibiotics for six weeks. I had a home care nurse assigned to visit me and administer medications two times a week. I was instructed to not lift the baby. I was frail, and I was sad. So sad. 

Time moved slowly. I remember reading an article about a woman who owned a flower company. I devoured it, fantasized about it, and then I tucked it away in my mind for a time. I had babies that needed me and a body that desperately needed healing. Within a few weeks, I took a turn for the worse; each breath brought excruciating pain. After many trips to the ER and visits to specialty doctors, we discovered that I had dislocated multiple ribs during my son’s birth. The chronic and severe pain continued on for years. The first seven months were by far the worst. I couldn’t hold my son—when I tried, it hurt, and my body wasn’t strong enough. The entire right side of my body atrophied. I had dropped to 98 pounds. Ninety-eight pounds might sound like a great problem, but I was a shell of myself. Utterly lost, intense depression became part of my everyday life. 

Dry Bush of Desert Tumble Weed on White Background

 

Randomly, one day my father-in-law gave me a giant tumbleweed; he knew that I was fascinated by them. I took a look at the giant weed, and something in it inspired me. I found a pair of clippers and started sculpting, my baby boy cooing beside me in his baby Bumbo. The process hurt. Tumbleweeds are covered in thorns and spines. I would yelp out in pain, on top of pain I was already experiencing. When I was done shaping that tumbleweed, I sewed her onto a piece of burlap stretched over a frame, and then I hung her on the wall. I sat down and wept. That stupid old weed. That invasive tumbleweed. It was beautiful. I wept more. At that moment, I loved all of it. Colorado. My pain. My sorrow. 

Weeds. Unwanted, invasive. 

Trials. Same. 

And yet, both can be beautiful. 

It’s what we do with them. 

The therapy of taking an unwanted ball of thorns and creating beauty shifted me. I eventually started foraging for other weeds. Creating with them, feeling the pain, pushing through to the beauty. 

Years later, I started my flower company and decided that prickly, dried weeds had to be part of it. I named the company Pickletown Flower Co because that’s where it all started. In a little neighborhood nicknamed Pickletown, known for nearly a century as a place where neighbors looked after each other, and continue to today. My husband and I started what we called a “sharing garden” where friends and neighbors gathered to grow vegetables and flowers. We held monthly harvest dinners under the lights and stars. We began sourcing flowers from the garden for my little business; from there, the company blossomed.

The business officially launched in the summer of 2019. I traveled around in my flower truck — foraging, selling, and grinning ear to ear. As we all know, COVID hit the world shortly thereafter and brought all of us to a screeching halt. I pivoted, panicked, and pivoted again. I’m still pivoting! We now offer fresh and dried flowers and ship nationwide. We get up on ladders and install the most beautiful faux flowers on the exteriors of storefronts. But my favorite part of all is the dried installations; dried, old weeds woven into each one. It’s grounding and the most creative thing I do. 

My Process

I let the space inform my process. Whether it’s someone’s home, a boutique wall, a commercial lobby—I let the colors, textures, and environment take the lead. I bring everything but the kitchen sink when I show up because I rarely know how a project will come together, which is exhilarating. Sometimes I paint the weeds and other elements. Sometimes I leave them in their natural state. I often tell clients and workshop participants that “Nature isn’t a factory. She doesn’t make things the same way twice. Let the element guide you. If it curves to the right, go with it. If it curves to the left, go with that.” This wild flow is how the art is formed. 

When I forage, I employ a few tools and tricks. Long pants and sleeves, closed-toe shoes, and thick gloves are essential. I use long- and short-handle clippers and bring along large cardboard boxes and garbage bags. When foraging for invasive species, I am careful to knock the seeds into the cardboard box or garbage bag to prevent dispersal. 

I never stop foraging, and I’m infinitely curious about what else is out there. I love finding unique grasses, pods, pieces of wood, and dried plants. The options and creative possibilities are endless with foraging. In the winter, I cut evergreen and pine shoots from our yard. When I visit family in Florida, I come home with a bag stuffed full of goodies—air plants (which dry well!), Spanish moss, palmetto leaves. In California and Puerto Rico, I forage the endless pampas grass you see just off the roadways. Eventually, I would love to learn to weave palms and reeds. Hopefully, I’ll be able to travel and learn from other cultures and regions about how they use foliage, grasses, and weeds. 

Once I have all of my foraged and purchased products gathered, I use nails, hooks, wire, and chicken wire to affix the art onto the wall. It’s a rather simple, bare-bones setup. I usually put on headphones and get immersed in the moment. Cursing here and there when I stab myself with yet another thorn, then smiling because I know the beauty that comes out of it. I remember and know all too well that this is my one and only life. I have decided to accept what comes, embrace the pain, bear the hardships, and use it for beauty. 

My Creative Expression

With my flower company, there’s a never-ending opportunity to be creative. We take the bits and pieces that would otherwise be discarded, such as hydrangea flowerlets, bits of greenery, bunny tails, and phalaris, and we turn them into beautiful holiday ornaments. Again, taking the unwanted and showing off its beautiful value. We make hair pieces, hat bands, dried arrangements, bouquets, and wall art. 

When I first started with my flower truck, I intentionally wanted a mobile studio because it allowed me to take the floral experience to people. That passion continues to be a significant part of Pickletown. We provide private workshops, flower bars, and experiences. We offer virtual workshops and floral crafting kits. I’m constantly thinking of more ways to make our flowers and creativity accessible to people. I’m a lover of community by nature. One of my questions to myself is always: How can I bring others into this? How can I give them this experience? And at Pickletown, these questions and desire to create experiences will continue to drive what we do. 

 

For more on BloomTV, go to: www.BloomTVNetwork.com and BloomTV.Network on Instagram.

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