June 2015

A Floral Affair: Design Studio

Author: Courtney Hillis | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Don’t expect Dawn Kiritsy to copy floral arrangements from Pinterest. For her, flowers are personal. While she enjoys inspiration and visual suggestions for color schemes and general feel, she prides herself on producing unique designs. And that’s why she’s transitioning her company, A Floral Affair, from a retail space to a floral design studio where she can showcase ideas and original designs to clients.
Kiritsy and husband Stephen bought A Floral Affair in 1997. Stephen handles the business and bookkeeping end of the company, which started as a retail flower shop and evolved into floral design for weddings and events.

Kiritsy entered the business with an art and design background along with personal experience in her own flower gardens on Hilton Head Island and at her previous home in New Hampshire. She learned floral design from the previous owner, who stayed on staff temporarily to help with the transition. She now holds the prestigious designation as the only floral designer on Hilton Head Island to be inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), which is an exclusive group of floral experts. She likes being creative and loves to design and sketch. In fact, sketching centerpieces and bouquets to coordinate with bridal gowns is one of her favorite aspects of her career. “I like designing. I love doing flowers.” She is always creating new designs, researching and learning new flowers and likes “keeping it fresh.”

Kiritsy creates all the flower arrangements herself while giving freedom to her staff in coordinating design items such as boutonnières. “We have the best group,” she said of her team. “We have fun doing what we are doing.”

One aspect that makes A Floral Affair unique is its wide selection of décor items. Dawn and her team enjoy working with coordinators and are recognized as a preferred partner on most area vendor recommendation lists.

Although A Floral Affair is not an event coordinating company, its scope of services reaches beyond floral event design, including tuxedo rentals, special occasion flower arrangements (with adequate notice) and event décor such as café lighting, arches/arbors, bars, fabric draping, etc. The company also constructs one-of-a-kind pieces for events, including boxes, bars, arbors, and more. For their floral clients, some of the rental pieces include specialty glass, mercury, luminaries, large doors, rustic boxes and palms; however, these items are only available to clients as part of the decor package included with the wedding or special event design. Tuxes are available for anyone by appointment.

Another aspect that makes them unique is the ability to get rare and seasonal flowers. For example, they can get peonies year-round. “I like the cool, funky stuff—the stuff people are seeing in magazines,” Kiritsy said.

A Floral Affair’s scope of services reaches beyond floral event design to include tuxedo rentals and event décor, such as café lighting, arches, arbors and fabric draping.

A Floral Affair puts an emphasis on quality. The bouquets are full and of the highest standard. If they get 300 blush pink roses, they all go towards the client’s event; they are not going to save them for other uses. The customer-oriented company has flowers shipped directly to them, and any bride can walk in the week of her wedding and see the flowers that will be used. They also work with budgets and will guide the client in an appropriate direction, based on cost, taste and time of year. A Floral Affair also provides samples once an event is booked. This way the client can see what he/she is going to get, and the visual helps answer any lingering questions.

As Hilton Head Island has become increasingly popular as a destination-wedding locale, business has certainly increased. It is advised to book with the company as soon as possible, often a year (or more) in advance, depending on the time of year.

A Floral Affair caters to a large number of people who grew up in the area. Locals and brides with families that live in the area use them, and that has led to a tremendous amount of repeat business. Once people (attendees, bridesmaids, etc.) see what they can do, they want to use A Floral Affair for their weddings or their children’s weddings.

The wedding season peaks in the spring and fall with a short break in July. A Floral Affair averages two weddings a weekend and will not book more than two weddings in a day.

The focus shifts come the second weekend of November, when they start on Christmas decorations for clubs and private homes. A team of 14 goes out to install Christmas decorations each year.

Kiritsy says she’s focusing on “curbing it back to being a design studio” as they evolve from a retail flower shop. She likes her staff at its current size and wants to make sure they do the events they have really well rather than overbooking.

“I am going to be here for a while,” Kiritsy said, noting that the company could easily grow in the future. She recognizes that the team is the future, taking care of them while focusing on keeping the client happy.

While A Floral Affair is no longer a retail store, they are open on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day for original floral arrangements. Call in advance for anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasion floral deliveries. 

A Floral Affair is located at 20A Cardinal Rd., Hilton Head Island. For more information, call (843) 681-8700.

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