29, LOS ANGELES
anything color coded brings me joy
How did this all start, do you remember the moment of inspiration?
I always told myself I'd turn to flowers when I’m older and sick or not relevant enough to design anymore, so the thought has always been on my mind as a plan for my older days. However, I had just finished a friends wedding in Rhode Island back in 2016 and I came to a realization that I didn’t have to wait, that I could do it now but I knew that if I did it I’d have to merge design into it and make it different. I was on Tumblr and came across a photo of a Volkswagen van parked on the side of the highway – it looked very California. Instantly, I thought of flowers on wheels and living in a city where the food truck culture is so present, I instantly thought of a flower truck. Why not have people walk up as they do at a taco truck but get flowers instead?
What was the hardest part of getting started?
The hardest part of getting started was simply starting – every single doubt and insecurity and 'what if' consumed me. When things went wrong, was it a sign to stop? When things went right, was it a sign to keep going? You’re in this cloud of emotions and questions and fear. Fear of starting was the hardest part.
Why did you name the truck after your mother and what does that mean to you?
All my memories of flowers or plants are linked to my mother. I used to bring her home flowers from the fields growing up or from people’s gardens. On a deeper level, this is also a tribute to the amazing women she is and all she’s done for my brother, sister and I. She’s one of five girls and this tribute extends to them and my sister as well; it celebrates the women they are. Plus, I think its a stunning name, there is a melody to it and regardless of if you know it’s a reference to my mother or not, it has an ease and beauty to it just like a flower.
We know its hard to choose a favorite child, but do you have a favorite flower? Or one you just always come back to working with?
I go through phases where I favor some flowers. This past fall I was obsessed with Cockscomb (Celosia). It looks like a brain and its velvet like texture really elevated the blooms.
What flower always reminds you of home?
It's not a flower, but ferns are an instant reminder of home – and of my mother.
Do you have a favorite moment on the truck?
Yes, I love watching people’s expressions as they’re walking past the truck; there is always this slight look of confusion followed by a smirk. I ADORE it - regardless of if they stop or make a purchase or feed their curiosity. To me, that smirk is the tiniest, quickest unexpected moment of joy, a gift from Lenita and that’s priceless.
How do you keep from creative burnout?
I don’t – creative burnout happens all of the time, especially when it is related to my own brand. To me, its harder designing for myself then for others and there are moments I simply stare at the computer and go blank – it’s the idea of making everything so perfect that you end up not making anything at all.
What's your favorite music to listen to while making bouquets?
I listen to a lot of Brazilian and pop music. It's been fun to discover Brazilian artists now that I’m older and broadening my curiosity. And you can't go wrong with Britney Spears! If I’m tired and need to wake up, “Toxic” always does the trick. I’m also here for this Ariana Grande song “Into You” from a few summers ago – I don’t follow her career much and am super late to it, but it’s a new song to me and it's basically perfect.
How do you balance LENITA with your design jobs?
It's not until Friday comes around that I officially put my LENITA florist hat on, but balancing is hard. For the most part, it all blends together and I never turn either switch off – so I’m still learning how to balance, but organization I’m better at and that’s improved a lot.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned?
This past year has been such a roller coaster of experiences and as Hallmark as this might sound, the biggest lesson I've learned is the power of friendship. The love and support from my friends and family has given me a ground to stand on in this bumpy ride. They show the smallest gestures like stoping by to say hello and covering a bathroom run to dedicating their entire day to helping on a shoot or installation to making sure the company they work for only orders LENITA. This is what this series is about - it's a celebration of these individuals who have given me so much support and critique and words of encouragement and who always cheer this project forward - its my humble sign of gratitude.
What do you still hope to accomplish or do with LENITA in the future?
I have so many plans for lenita, such as merchandise and special collections and collaborations, but the ultimate goal is a physical location. I already have design mock ups for it and I’m sure its time will come – but just like the truck, it would be a merging of flowers, art and design and bringing all of the elements I love together.
What's one thing you’re really looking forward to this year?
I’m going to Brazil for the month of August to celebrate my 30th birthday along with my twin brother, sister, mother and a few friends. We’ve lived in the US for almost 20 years now and have never been back as a family. I think about the trip every second. My aunts are going crazy with the preparations and a few childhood friends are coming back to our microscopic town to join the party – in a way its beyond a party, its almost a full circle returning to where it all started and when life was simpler, life was childhood.