Creative Women: Semia Dunne of The Floral Reserve - Providence, Rhode Island

Floral Reserve Providence Rhode Island Flowers by Semia

Semia Dunne is a local creative entrepreneur in Providence, Rhode Island. Just a short drive away from our studio, I discovered her work on Instagram a few months  ago and was instantly intrigued by her new business, The Floral Reserve. An incredibly talented, self-taught florist and flower farmer, Semia opened The Floral Reserve as her second, sister business to Flowers by Semia. The space is a wholesale and retail floral market and work shop, where you can find exotic blooms flown in from all over the globe, alongside an array of impeccable, locally grown flowers from around New England.

 

locally grown hyacinth rhode island, the floral reserve providence

I have always loved flowers (don't we all?) but over the last few years, I have started to really, like really love flowers. Perhaps it's me getting older... maybe it's living in New England, where more than half the year it's freezing and the land is barren. Once the weather warms up, it's ON. I'm giddy over the emergence of the spherical buds of my neighbor's Peonies... I get completely lost in the field of Dahlia's down the road from my house in the Fall... hell, I can get carried away at the local Whole Foods flower section, despite the infamous Whole Foods commotion around me.  As a budding flower enthusiast (pun intended), I find myself seeking out unusual specimens. Other than the Saturday Farmer's Market, which is seasonal, the options are often lacking in the tiny state of Rhode Island. Don't get me wrong, Hydrangeas and Roses are very lovely, but I want something curious that I've never seen before. Blooms that make me gasp and feel a child-like sense of awe when I lay eyes on them. I need my flower fix, ok? Semia, an extremely talented florist and grower herself, knew of this same issue and decided to do something about it. 


flowers at the floral reserve providence ri flowers by semia - Loren Hope

I recently took a ride over to The Floral Reserve to meet the woman behind the magic. I tried to play it cool around Semia, but I could have done cartwheels once I walked through the door and was surrounded by the most incredible flowers I've laid eyes on. Yes, this place gives you that flower high... 


flowers by semia, the floral reserve providence ri
 
the floral reserve, providence rhode island

Another thing I adore about Semia is her commitment to supporting the local community. As a small business utilizing and supporting other local purveyors and artisans in the state of Rhode Island, we live and breathe the same ethos.

The Floral Reserve, Providence RI

the floral reserve, providence rhode island - loren hope

hand dyed silk ribbons - the floral reserve providence ri


Read on to learn a little more about Semia and her business, and when you find yourself in Providence, do yourself a favor and slate some time on a Saturday morning to grab your coffee and pop-in to The Floral Reserve for some serious indulgence... if you not currently completely obsessed with flowers and the marvel of nature, you will be.

LH: When did you start your business? 
Semia: I started Flowers by Semia (my floral design studio) 18 years ago! The Floral Reserve, our latest baby, is only 7 months old.

LH: What prompted you to start The Floral Reserve? 
Semia: I started the Reserve for 3 main reasons. As a seasoned floral designer that specialized in large scale events, I was traveling to Boston 1-2 times a week to visit the Boston flower exchange. It was a mecca for exceptional product. When it moved to Chelsea in 2017, the experience wasn't the same for me...and the traffic pattern was horrific. That left RI designers with not a lot of choices for an exceptional flower market that catered to fine imports as well as local product. The second biggest reason I opened the Reserve was to provide a place for floral designers to shop our local farmers' selections as well as provide the farmers with a location to expand their reach. I wanted to create a space that was synonymous with creativity, dependability and quality for the people in my industry. And I wanted to show designers who aren't working with local product what they are missing! 

LH: Why is supporting the local community important to you? 
Semia: I'm a flower farmer myself and let me tell you.....it's hard work. Back breaking, really. But the yield is that good that we do it over and over. These flower farmers we have in our local community (RI, CT, MA and VT ) are SO GOOD at what they do. I mean incredible. They work so hard to bring us designers the absolute best blooms...the stems with character, grace and originality. It's super important to me that they get their moment in the sun at my market. 
Supporting local also means promoting less of a carbon footprint. While I truly love imports as well, they do have an impact on our environment when we talk about flying them in.

LH: Favorite flower? 
Semia: Black double hellebore

LH: What do you do to get out of a creative slump? 
Semia: I walk around my farm. I look at the flowers that I planted, the weeds that I did not, and everything in between...the trees in the woods and the ferns on the ground. I look at the colors inherent to nature and how they play with one another. I watch how the flowers grow in nature...and pay attention to form. Within no time, I'm recharged and I want to get my hands back to designing.

LH: Do you prefer classic neutrals or bold color? 
Semia: Neither! I prefer dirty tones. Things like smokey lavender, golden mustards, sand colors, mauve, dirty blues...

LH: Favorite beauty product you can't live without? 
Semia: MASCARA. Mic drop. Never leave home without it on my eyes.

LH: I love that you operate out of an old mill just like us. Why do you like working in a mill space? 
Semia: Well, our owners did a fabulous job harnessing the light and making each space a truly inspiration place to create. Besides the obvious beautiful architecture both inside and out, I love having artistic and creative neighbors. I love feeling part of a community. This place has such great energy. I wouldn't ever want to leave!

LH: Favorite artist? 
Semia: I don't have a favorite. But I will tell you that I am intensely drawn to Dutch Master floral paintings.

LH: Where's your favorite source for pretty vases?
Semia: I may be biased, but I created a compote design with a local ceramicist named J. Schatz in Providence, RI that is my favorite vase to design in. It's got the best lines, allows for a free-flowing organic design, and comes in 4 earthy colors that compliment any floral palette.
I mainly adore it because it's handmade by a wonderful local artisan.


The Floral Reserve, Providence, Rhode Island - Edgar Degas quote art is not what you see

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For us, it's not just about the bottom line. It's about investing in our community, which I believe is something that comes around full circle. 

-Loren Barham, Founder