Flush with scent and color, flowers feel extra precious amidst New York City’s concrete landscape, bringing life to the dreariest snow-slicked day. Florist LaParis Phillips knows this all too well, infusing this joy throughout Brooklyn Blooms, her floral design studio that has become a beloved Bed-Stuy neighborhood staple since opening in 2017.
Walking into her boutique feels like stumbling upon a secret garden teeming with palm fronds, fluffy cockscombs and fat chocolate sunflowers—a personal favorite of the designer. These are the building blocks behind her signature style, “which is very funky, textural and carefree,” says Phillips.
A life in flowers was a surprise twist for the St. Louis, Missouri, native, who cultivated her style while studying fashion. Back then, working in flower shops was only an engaging part-time job. After moving to New York, however, when doors felt frustratingly closed to career pursuits in fashion, florals became a way to carve out a space for herself. So Phillips forged a new path, honing her skills at shops throughout the city before launching her own. Yet her fashion background still feeds her imagination as a florist, especially in her approach to color and texture. “I’m a person who never matches; my flowers are the same way,” she explains.
There is careful craftsmanship behind these seemingly effortless, naturalistic arrangements, beginning with a generous foundation of foliage, since “greenery is what creates a garden experience,” she says. Her bases often include dried plantings as well, which she admires for their sculptural quality. “I always say there is beauty after death when it comes to flowers.” Broad leaves often become canvases, where she paints vibrant patterns inspired by traditional African mud cloth. Big, bold blooms like dahlias and peonies then take center stage, framed by smaller, free-flowing florets “that I like to call the dancers. The ones that float and bounce.”
Behind these bouquets, the designer grounds Brooklyn Blooms in sustainability. “It’s nature that gives me my livelihood, so it’s my duty to honor that,” she explains. When packaging, she avoids plastics, including industry-standard foam bricks and decorative wrapping, favoring repurposed brown paper instead. She also employs vintage vessels, often using their shape and texture as inspiration for arrangements. These pieces are gifts long after the flowers are gone: “I love when I get pictures of people reusing them,” she says.
The floral designer lives for composing these everyday moments of beauty for clients, particularly in a roller coaster of a city where dreams get deferred only for new ones to blossom in their place. “I want to show people that you can do creative things and be successful,” says Phillips. “I get to do this on my own terms, which is the best way to have it.”