Maryann Karimi 

"I just forgot how much I loved working with people and flowers, and making people's days and putting smiles on their faces."

Maryann Karimi

Lex Nelson

Maryann Karimi

Years ago, Maryann Karimi decided to give up being a florist—but each time she turned away from the profession, something or someone kept nudging her back. Eventually, she found the joy in flowers again.

"I just forgot how much I loved working with people and flowers, and making people's days and putting smiles on their faces," she said.

Karimi first started dabbling in floral design about 13 years ago after moving to Boise from her home country of Greece. A part-time gig in a friend's flower shop eventually led to a stint at the Floral Design Institute in Portland, Oregon, then to opening her own small business and finally, after a period of doubt, to a job arranging flowers for Albertsons. In the last five years or so, she has worked in three Albertsons stores, and now heads the floral department at the company's new location on Broadway Avenue, where she manages a staff of eight.

On Nov. 1, Karimi led an in-store workshop where she helped attendees design and construct Thanksgiving centerpieces, letting them choose their own flowers and designs before offering guidance because, as she put it, "It's not fun if I pick for them."

A few weeks later, she sat down with BW to share insider tips on crafting centerpieces for the holidays.

Walk me through the process of building a centerpiece.

First we do greeneries, because that's the base of your flower. Then you start thinking, "What kind of flowers do I want? Is it round, mounded centerpieces I want to create, or is it long centerpieces? What shape do I want?" Then you start your focal point, and then the face of your flowers, and then fillers, and [you] spray it and make sure that you water them...

What do you mean when you say you "spray" the bouquet?

Spray it with Crowning Glory Flower Spray, because [the flowers] can hydrate and stay better. I always say, think about how you put makeup on. You know how some people, they spray the makeup so it stays, with setting spray or something? That's a similar thing to flowers. You spray that so they can last you longer.

When we were talking earlier, you mentioned that your centerpiece shape needs to match the shape of your table. What are some pairings you'd recommend?

If you have maybe six people coming to your house, and you have a round table, you don't want to have a square centerpiece in the middle. You might—it's not like, "Oh no! You can't!"—but if you have a round, moundy-looking [centerpiece], then everyone can enjoy the view of that centerpiece. From any angle you're looking at the centerpiece, it's beautiful and gorgeous. The other thing is that you need to make sure the height is right, because you want to look over it and have conversations with people. And if you're sitting at a table with placemats and plates and this and that, you want to make sure that you have enough room and your centerpiece isn't so huge that it's taking over everything, or too small that you don't even see it. ... And then if you have a long [table], say you want to sit 20 people, you don't want to make only one huge centerpiece and put it on top of the table and [leave] the rest of the table empty. You want it to have some balance, so you [should] break that into three centerpieces, small ones.

What are some long-lasting flowers you'd recommend for centerpieces?

The hardy flowers are always Fall mums, carnations, alstroemeria, lilies, those types of things are hardy flowers. Baby's breath, mini carnations—we have a lot of different varieties of flowers, especially in this store, that people can purchase. And we always go over and make sure that we educate people when they're buying flowers, because if someone buys flowers and they die in two days, the chance of them coming back is [slim].

Tell me a bit about the foam that you use to keep flowers in place.

Oasis Foam is a type of foam that you can soak in water for 60 seconds, it absorbs water and you can use that in your centerpieces, anything that you want your flowers to be secure. You can buy it from craft stores [or] you can buy it here at Albertsons. ... Most centerpieces, I would say 60 percent of centerpieces for Thanksgiving or Christmas or any holiday that you're celebrating, are going to be in foam just because it's more secure, it's easier to build.

I know you help people build their own centerpieces, but do you also make custom bouquets?

We do. Every day, we build custom bouquets here. I have three designers including me, we're here full time and we have staff from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day in our Floral Department. ... [Customers] can come in, they can tell me a little bit about what they want to do, or these days many people are going to Pinterest or Google, that stuff, and they bring in a photo.

And your flower delivery, is that just for corporations, or is it for individuals as well?

It's for individuals as well. We do have our own van, and we do deliver [both food and flowers] anywhere in Boise, Eagle and Meridian.

One last question—how much do your centerpieces cost?

$12.99 to $200. Whatever [their] budget is, we'll make it work.

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