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Kelsea Olivia, Founder of East Olivia

Kelsea Olivia, Founder of East Olivia

by Melissa Magsaysay

Floral Designer Kelsea Olivia Brings the Beauty of Fashion and Florals Together

Imagine a world where it felt as though flowers were completely enveloping you; contrasting sizes of blooms and flourishes, stunningly vibrant colors and seemingly impossible shapes coming from all directions taking your focus in various directions, but overall making a cohesive story.

“Beauty is a human need, not just a luxury.”

These are the worlds that Kelsea Olivia, founder of floral design and creative agency, East Olivia builds for the biggest brands in the world, including larger than life installations throughout major cities. She has also launched a direct to consumer floral arrangement business where her signature aesthetic full of color and whimsy can be found.

A fan of bold hues, the artist gets much of her inspiration from fashion and finds beauty in the places where the beautiful and unexpected collide, making for her own signature style that has become a part of the city landscape and can now be sent straight to homes across the country as smaller scale floral arrangements - perfect for Mother’s Day, or just every day.

The Getaway: Sun Seeker Style
The high-waisted Apiece Apart denim paired with the ALC tee is the perfect casual spring outfit. The denim is very high waisted — which I love — and so comfortable! A combination that can be hard to come by with denim and I am obsessed. I’ve been a big fan of Apiece Apart for so long now and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Here, Kelsea talks about her personal style, building a dream brand and her determination to continue inspiring people especially during these uncertain times.

Q & A with Kelsea Olivia

Describe your personal style

I am certainly not your typical New Yorker in that I love color. You will more often spot me in all pink before you’d see me in all black. Fashion influences so much of my creative inspiration for designing with florals and specifically I have seen that with unexpected color stories, the balancing of fun prints and textures etc. I love a good multi colored stripe print and of course, I can never get enough of floral prints either.

What was the impetus to start East Olivia?

East Olivia was born out of my discovery of rare ephemeral ingredients I became exposed to through the NYC Flower Market. As I discovered this love for myself I began to understand more deeply that beauty is a human need, not just a luxury. During this time in my life I was working for Anthropologie which is an incredibly visual brand, and it was there, where fashion, botanicals and fresh cut ephemeral beauty all came together for me. I began to work with florals as a medium beyond the floors of Anthropologie and quickly became energized by the ability to share florals with as many people as I could. Oftentimes this was made possible through live events and public installations - one of my favorites to date was our installation last year in front of the Flatiron building.

You have such a distinct point of view with your floral designs, how would you describe it?

Thank you! I would describe my approach to floral design as unconventional, vibrant and elevated. I almost always begin with a color story and exquisite ingredients - being exposed to florals in NYC where we (typically) have access to some of the most incredible florals and botanicals in the world lead me to develop quite the expensive taste! I love working with a really complicated and unexpected color story - which I typically see first and foremost in fashion. Additionally, as a creative agency specializing in large scale floral installs (pre-pandemic )- our work focused mostly on brand activations and live events where the narrative of the client or event was the inspiration and driver for my designs. I love the challenge of taking something very corporate, like the Mastercard logo, and bringing it to life with florals. For me, it always begins with selecting the best possible cut flowers available which is often the most exciting part of the creative process for me. What’s available is always different based on season, location etc - and now in a pandemic - it's even more of a challenge - but one that I feel really continues to push my creativity forward.

What has business been like during quarantine and how have you managed to pivot your brand/business? What have the silver linings been?

Unfortunately, due to the quarantine we essentially lost all of our business overnight. I am not one to easily be discouraged though and we immediately shifted to launch an online shop and preserved floral collection in the hopes that we would be able to save our staff’s salaries and health insurance. So far so good. The response has been so encouraging and our entire East Olivia team feels so grateful to be able to support our communities with florals. We need beauty now more than ever - and while I know this is only one small way and we certainly are not solving any major problems - I do believe that we are providing people a moment of beauty in their spaces and that is such an honor right now. Growing a new community of floral enthusiasts through our DTC line has absolutely been the silver lining to this crisis. That being said - since our business was completely events based prior to Covid-19, we have no idea what the future looks like or when those things may come back. It is a hard time but we are confident that we will get through it.

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