Originally published on Greater Long Beach- 09/12/2011:
September 12, 2011|BusinessEnvironment| Photography: Sarah Bennett / Greater Long Beach
primalflowerfrontTo set foot inside Primal Flower’s recently opened shop in downtown’s East Village is to take a step beyond whatever preconceptions are roused by the mention of an organic florist.
That is, unless you are Shelley Anders, who created this new addition to Third Street retail bouquet from her combined experience as a college art major in Texas, 25 years in the floral industry and her Long Beach business collaboration with local artist Jeremy West, who says his dark and edgy work is inspired by Rob Zombie, Geiger, and R. Crumb.
Anders didn’t sound as though she was headed in this unique direction when she closed the Dallas florist shop she’d owned since she was 30, packing up everything and moving to California.
“I had always admired the California florist’s floral design work I had seen in Grace Ormand magazine,” she recalls. “I wanted to take my career a step farther by working in Los Angeles and Orange County.”
After working for florists in West Hollywood and Irvine, Anders accepted a managerial position at Devyn’s Garden in Seal Beach, where she became increasingly enthusiastic about the organic flower movement.
Anders discovered that consumers had few options in the way of sustainable and locally farmed flowers. She became concerned with the level of potentially harmful pesticides she was coming in contact with on a daily basis. She felt moved by the impact these pesticides were having on the environment.
“It may not be quite so obvious in the first instance, but flowers come with a very high carbon footprint,” Anders says. “Cut flowers are sprayed with pesticides, drip irrigated, refrigerated, transported often air-freighted. Most people might not think about these things because the local and organic movement is so focused on food.”
Although it may not feel that way, Anders’ practicality was also at the root of her collaboration with West—best known for his art with Sharpie brand markers and his own artistic venture, Tweak My Sneaks.
“I felt the area really needed a nice florist with a beautiful retail shop,” Anders reasons. “He really needed a workspace to create his art.”primalflowermat
At first glance, West’s intense and moody work might not seem like flower shop material. But placing them next to Anders’ softer, vintage pieces creates the fresh, new aesthetic that is Primal Flower’s major draw.
Primal Flower currently offers a variety of local and organic flowers and plants, dried flowers and arrangements, collectibles, original artwork and recycled items. Anders has experience arranging flowers for weddings and hopes to draw the attention of brides-to-be looking for an eco-friendly bouquet.
Primal Flower also enacted a “vase exchange” which works similarly to book exchanges: you can donate used, unwanted vases, or trade one you have for one from the store.
These forward-thinking offerings shift away from the static role of flower shops as plant storage and turn Primal Flower into a community space that has the power to change paradigms.
When asked if they plan on participating in downtown’s Second Saturday Art Walks, Anders replied, “Yes! We are actually cooking up something right now…”
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About STLtoLBC

Recently moved from St. Louis, MO to Long Beach, CA. Interested in art, music, food, urban issues, design, and architecture, education, fiction, technology, and getting to know and love my new home.
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