Nisha Kelen of Fleurish

Tell me about your evolution. How did you get started in the floral business?

My mom would say that I started my floral career at the stubborn age of three when I picked up my first marguerite daisy. It was coming up through a crack in the sidewalk on a hot, sunny day in LA and I had to have it. It was all mine.

My very first job in the ninth grade was in a flower shop and so it began. I’ve been around flowers ever since as a source of income and a creative outlet. I tried doing other things, but flowers kept calling me back into their seductive world. Moving to Seattle in 1994, I landed a job at the Sorrento Hotel as their in-house florist. After two years there, I left to start my own business, Fleurish, which made its debut in 1997 in Madrona. Its name was apropos since I’m a Francophile, and the alternative choice was Violette, which I ended up naming my dog. Twenty-one years later I’m still doing my thing and feeling very grateful.

What do you love about flowers? Do you have favorites each season?

There are truly so many things, but what I love most is how they can express at times what words cannot. My mom would always say to me, “Las die blumen sprechen,” which in German means, “Let the flowers speak.”

Winter: amaryllis & hellebores

Spring: lilac & lily of the valley

Summer: poppies with thick, fuzzy stems & fragrant garden roses

Autumn: white anemones with black centers

Tell me about why buying fresh flowers daily is important to you.

I like to think of myself as a baker. On the days I work, I get up early and go to the wholesalers to select what I need for the day or what I have pre-ordered. Since I have opted not to own a cooler in Seattle, I like knowing that the product I get is ultra-fresh and not put into preservation mode when refrigerated. I also enjoy my routine of being inspired by what comes in from the auction or from the local farms.

Where do you look for inspiration?

EVERYWHERE. On walks, in gardens, from magazines and books, but mostly from my travels. I’m interested in the change of seasons and how it affects the landscape. Nature is my greatest muse.

How would you define your personal style and your design aesthetic?

Uncomplicated and minimalist. I gravitate to neutral tones with punctuations of color. Both my style and aesthetic seem to echo in my florals where I much prefer the singular impact of one type of flower en masse; for example, all white peonies in a clear glass vase. At the same time, I can’t resist the simplicity of a single branch of a blooming magnolia Grandiflora with its glossy, dark green leaves resting in a ceramic vessel.
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