Meet Isabel Mendoza, the Toronto-based florist and owner of Floret, who redefines floral design with an unconventional perspective. A true multidisciplinary artist, Isabel has ventured into events, fashion, and set design, infusing her creativity into every petal she touches.
Nestled in the heart of Dundas West, her studio transports you to what feels like a dreamy European small-town shop with its charming red and white stripe curtains and checkered brown and cream floors. Stepping through the doors, we were immersed in green smoke bush, setting the perfect ambiance for an inspiring conversation with this exceptional talent.
During this conversation, Isabel shares her serendipitous journey, leading her down the path of floral design.
Isabel is wearing the Sloane Top + Ally Skirt
When did you realize you had a love for floral design?
I never had an initial “aha” moment. I love flowers and I’ve had many careers. Many of those careers involved design in some aspect - events, fashion, interior and set decorating, but alongside many jobs in hospitality. During Covid, I was working as a set decorator and designing floral arrangements for indie shows and films while also selling bouquets at the café/grocer I managed. This all serendipitously lead to a career in floral design, and now I love it.
You have such an unconventional point of view when it comes to designing. Can you tell us a little bit about your style and where you draw inspiration from?
Thank you! Hmm… You know when you go to a restaurant or someone’s home in another country and you look around and can tell that there wasn’t a lot of thought put into the décor yet everything seems so intentional and beautiful? It's natural and flows. Random items and objects that you would never suspect as art filled with so much culture – it’s someone’s whole life that dresses it! I think I draw inspiration from everything I love and have loved in my life. When I am designing I’m picturing how someone I love would look like holding my bouquet. I imagine how I would design something if I was collaborating with a favourite artist, cook, seamstress.
Speaking of intentional and beautiful decor, your studio space feels like something out of a movie. What was your thought process when designing the space?
I was inspired by interiors of old tailors in France but also draw a lot of inspiration from South Korean and Japanese homes which tend to incorporate a lot of wood details. However, I also love all things circus hence the stripe curtains.
When people walk into the studio, I get so many different references. Some people say they feel like they've walked into a shop in Spain or Amsterdam, or are teleported to a 50s ice cream parlour.
As an artist, you have to continuously refine your craft. What are some ways you are doing this?
I work for other florists. There are so many talented florists and every florist will teach you something or a lot of things. I am so new to the craft and I am very lucky to have met so many influential florists and now friends. Also, I’m always asking questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
How does ways of dressing play a role in your everyday and what is your go-to outfit when you’re designing?
Right now is wedding season, which involves a lot of running around and lifting heavy buckets of flowers and large-scale arrangements in the heat so I typically gravitate towards the most lightweight, comfiest clothing I have. That looks something like a t-shirt with a slip or a pair of green striped cotton pants that’ll likely be paired with clogs, loafers or sneakers on a day with big installs. I have a pretty special collection of vintage suits and dresses but those don’t see the light much when I work with dirt.
You use mostly in-season, local and foraged flowers, fruits, and foliage to create your designs. Why is this important to you?
It’s no secret that we have a climate crisis and I like to do my best to support where I can and do what I can to reduce my carbon footprint. As a small business, it is also important to me to support local – there is so much that goes into growing crop and our local growers work so hard to provide us with the most charming and sustainably grown flowers.
Is there a season you favour?
My favourite season would have to be that short but sweet season in-between summer and autumn when it’s hot during the day and cool at night – SFALL if you will.
Living in Toronto must feel chaotic at times. What are some things you do to practice mindful and intentional living?
If you are referring to ‘the busy-ness’ of that of a city, I think its just part of living in a city, especially a growing one, but I honestly don’t find Toronto to be that chaotic. I guess I practice mindful and intentional living by listening to my body and rewarding it when it needs some extra love - whether it’s fourteen hours of sleep, treating myself to a favourite meal or just some good ol’ alone time, I think it’s important to gift yourself the little things.