Sacred Thistle is a unique flower and gift shop owned and operated by mother/daughter team Sydney and Cornelia Peterson. The shop creates florals for events, weddings and editorials and specializes in acquiring their florals by seasonally foraging and hand-picking them.
Tell me a bit about your origin story, what was the evolution to opening your shop?
Cornelia was working as a florist for a number of years before realizing she wanted to branch out into a style of her own, with an ethical side she could get behind. Sydney was an avid gardener, visual artist and a visual designer for many many years, and was over the company she had been working for.
We joined forces with a concept, and the ball really started rolling there. We sought out to try a new approach with a mindfulness of where our floral ingredients are coming from.
I think what’s so incredibly interesting are the flower arrangements, which are more like works of art and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Tell me where you get your inspirations? (If you went to art school, if you’ve traveled, I’d love to know).
We both went to art school – both for Textiles (and Cornelia Photography as well). We gather inspiration form so many sources whether it’s abstract painting, the way lichen grows on trees, or traveling abroad. Literally everything we visually see can spark inspiration. It’s a broad answer, but an honest one. This morning, Cornelia picked a bunch of grass out of someone’s trash trimmings and went and did a photo shoot with them, because it’s incredible how beautiful someone’s trash can be.
We think of the arrangements as sculptures, and if they ever look the same as one another we are doing something wrong. Emphasizing the weirdest, wackiest stems and making them the stars of the show is where our design differs from most.
One of the arrangements I saw of yours, which was so beautiful and unusual, as well as visually arresting, was an arrangement of wild mushrooms. Can you tell me how that came about?
We had talked about doing a edible bouquet class for awhile, and when we were thinking of things you can eat that are also beautiful we came to mushrooms. Which are incredible when you really examine them. Just beautiful. And you can eat (some of) them! Amazing creatures.
I’m curious about your customer, who they are, and what your collaboration process is like.
We have a hugely wide range of customers. A favorite moment is when we have elderly couples come in and rave, because it means we have something timeless happening, while still being hip enough for high school art students to shop with us. We try to cater to every price range, so anyone can find something.
If you have an anecdote about a favorite arrangement and who it was for, or how it challenged you artistically, I’d love to know.
Not sure we could choose a favorite arrangement; it’s like choosing a favorite flower. But, a favorite customer moment was when a customer told us after receiving the flowers they had ordered an arrangement thinking it could not visually be as beautiful as we present them online. They ordered it, proceeded to call and tell us that, and how they were floored by it going above and beyond expectation. Every time we make an arrangement, we want it to do that.
There was also an arrangement where Adele was involved, and that was a pretty big achievement for having just opened.
The merchandise in your store is plentiful but a tightly edited selection of gifts and home wares. What is the process like of deciding to carry items in Sacred Thistle?
We sell anything we would buy ourselves, which works perfectly when our taste and aesthetic is very much on same wave. We try to hold a gallery style aesthetic, so the wares are plentiful, but also interesting and really show off what we’ve selected.
I was speaking to someone over at Backyard on Blake and they said you once checked out space there before finding this location, yet I can’t imagine you anywhere else. What spoke to you about this space?
Yes! They are really sweet people there. We had actually driven by the building we have now on several occasions and both of us commented every time on how we dreamed of getting it – a premonition of sorts. Then, we got a call one day and he gave us the address, still having no idea it was the dream building until we were pulling up to it. We metaphorically peed our pants.
One of the best events I’ve been to was at your store and I know you often do workshops and events in the store. What does community mean to you and why is that important?
Community is a vital part of our business! The location we have has an incredible community to boot. There are a few reasons we care so much. One, is education, and we want to share the knowledge we have – whether it’s why you should smudge your home, or where your flowers come from, or how to arrange them! We want to share what we’ve got. Another reason is collaboration, and sharing. We make so many amazing connections within our space it’s mind-blowing. We like to fuel people’s creativity and inspiration, whether it’s through collaboration, design inspiration, or simply lifting a space via a flower arrangement.
I’m curious about how a mother daughter team works together. Tell me about your roles.
One of our most common comments is people wondering how we work together. We’re tight, like homies, we smack each other’s butts, and practice total transparency. It works. We balance each other like yin and yang.
If someone is new to Denver or new to your shop and has never come in, what would like to let them know?
To come in! We have something for everyone. And if we don’t physically have something for you, we love to share and learn about our customers. Conversations are half of what makes us so thrilled to be here every day.
If there is a question or questions you wish I asked, ask them and answer them here – anything you’d like the audience to know – that would be great.
Yes… ‘Do you select flowers based on their longevity or how do you decide what to buy?’
Longevity a conversation that comes up a lot for us. People love flowers that last a long time. It’s really tricky for us to tell customers how long their flowers will live because it’s so unpredictable. While we usually stock some long lasting blooms, sometimes the most beautiful blooms are the most fleeting – you enjoy them for a couple days and then it’s gone. But there’s always more to be had! They’re magical little things, and sometimes the ephemerality of them makes them that much more special.
On the note of long-lasting, Carnations are one of our favorites. Not only do they come in spectacular varieties, they actually last a long time and smell so delightful! We consider them the underdog, and will always and forever educate carnation haters.
Otherwise, we hand-pick all of our flowers, which can be tedious but we reap the rewards of finding the most beautiful bunches. We always choose seasonal stems, forage from the land, and utilize local flower farms whenever possible.