Botanica International Design Studio, a floral event business in Tampa, Florida, run by a family of longtime Society of American Florists volunteer leaders, celebrated its 30th anniversary Sunday, Jan. 20, with a swanky cocktail party that included thousands of flowers, a seven-piece band, heartfelt speeches — and a donation to the American Floral Endowment.
Before a crowd of wedding vendors, longtime clients, family and close friends, Ian Prosser, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, who founded Botanica with his wife, Fiona, AAF, retraced the business’s roots from an 800-square-foot retail shop to an upscale event company that’s done hundreds of highly publicized weddings in central and southwest Florida, as well as high-profile events, such as the 2012 Republican National Convention, and recently opened a sister business, StyleHouse, which rents furniture and decorative hard goods to other florists, corporations and consumers planning their own parties.
He also shared his serendipitous entry into the world of floristry.
While a teenager in Scotland, Prosser crossed paths with an elderly woman who seemed lonely and struck up a friendship. One day he asked her, “What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but have never tried?”
Her answer: floral design.
“So, I found a flower arranging class, at the ripe age of 15, and I went with her every Tuesday night,” Prosser said.
In his 45 years of as a professional florist, Prosser has achieved international acclaim for his design skills, creativity, teaching and volunteerism. Before immigrating to the U.S. in the 1980s, he won Scotland’s Floral Designer of the Year and earned the National Diploma of the Society of Floristry. He is a former winner of the Sylvia Cup Design Challenge and SAF’s Paul Ecke, Jr. Award in recognition of exemplary devotion to profession, industry and community. He has also chaired the presidential inaugurations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, served on the design team for SAF’s annual convention for more than a decade, SAF’s Retailers Council and the Floral Management Advisory Committee, been a mainstage presenter at the American Institute of Floral Designers’ annual symposium and, last summer, emceed FTD’s America Cup.
Prosser told the crowd that his success didn’t happen in a vacuum — that he’s encountered countless people who’ve mentored, inspired and helped him along the way — and that their support provoked a passion for paying it forward.
“That’s why tonight, instead of giving you a favor you can take home and throw away, we’ve made a donation in your name to the American Floral Endowment that will enable a budding young florist realize their dream like I did,” he said.
Before cuing the dancing portion of the evening, he took a moment to praise his son, Jordan, Botanica’s flower buyer, and daughter, Zoë Gallina, AAF, the company’s creative designer, for their ambition, surprising the pair by naming them his new business partners.
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor of the Society of American Florists.