Because the world needs beauty

I am feeling rather nostalgic this week thinking back to exactly one year ago when I spent a week in Charleston learning from Ariella Chezar. The time I spent with Ariella felt magical and completely inspiring in every way. I’ve been meaning to blog about our time together for a year now, so what better time than the anniversary of this trip.

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My friend Erin of Floret Flowers encouraged me to attend Ariella’s workshop and assured me it would be life changing. I was at a point in my career where I needed a change. I felt uninspired and bored and as a result I felt unhappy and dissatisfied with the work I was producing. I knew I needed to do something, but I was so hesitant to sign up for a workshop with Ariella. I had admired Ariella for years, and have always been so inspired by her work. Her name is synonymous with the beauty she creates. Most of what I do is self taught, and I had never received any formal training for floral design. As a result, I was scared she would look at my work and tell me I was untalented. I literally had a dream that she denounced me as a designer, labeled me a fraud, and put it out on social media that I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s funny how our own insecurities can weigh so heavily on our hearts and scare us from taking big steps and trying new things.

I pushed through my insecurities, fearfully signed up for the workshop, bought a few new bow ties to help boost my confidence and headed to Charleston with my wife.

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Jamie took a photo of me as I headed out to class that first day. I felt like I was in kindergarten again, wondering if I would make any friends and if the teacher would be nice. I rarely get nervous for anything, but the closer I got to the workshop, the faster my heart started beating. I opened the door to discover what seemed like a sea of ladies looking at me, shocked to see a man walking through the door. But then I heard a warm, welcoming, lovely and soothing voice declare “Steve! Welcome!” It was Ariella. At that moment every fear dissipated and I felt safe.

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Ariella might be the most gentle and kind person I have ever met. She truly has a beautiful soul and is lovely in every way. She is gracious and humble and so down to earth. No matter what skill level each student entered with, she treated everyone the same, and encouraged the talent she saw within. She gave tips, shared trade secrets, directed us to new resources and opened our eyes to her world. She listened to our stories, asked us about our dreams and made us feel like we could accomplish anything. She believed in each of us, which helped us to in turn believe in ourselves. I came to realize that the reason why her work is truly so amazing and beautiful, is because it is simply an extension of who she is as a person, and her designs flow from within.

Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 6 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 7 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 8 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 9 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 10 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 11 Those few days I spent with Ariella were in fact life changing. It was the exact reboot I needed and I left feeling inspired and ready to conquer my dreams. As I went through wedding season, I often found myself referring back to the techniques I learned. Ariella’s influence ran deep and the impact she had on me elevated the weddings I designed to a whole new level. As a result we produced some of my favorite weddings I have ever been part of.

Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 12 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 13 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 14 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 15 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 16 Beyond strengthening my skills as a designer, I think the greatest thing I left with after our time together, was a sense of value for what I do for a living. Sometimes I wonder if at the end of my life I will question what the point of everything was. It is easy to lose sight of why we do what we do when we are inundated with hundreds of e-mails daily and caught up in so many details. I have even questioned the value of spending so many resources on creating something for just one day, only to have our work torn down at the end of the night when the party is over. I’ve even had friends ask me how I feel about helping people squander their money on just a one day celebration. It can all feel meaningless and frivolous, especially with so much of the world in need. That mindset can be de-habilitating and discouraging and leave me wondering if I should do something more meaningful with my life.   Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 17 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 18 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 19 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 20

Ariella spoke a truth into our lives on our final evening together, and I will never forget it. She gave us a memento written in Latin that read “hominibus opus decoris” Those words sat in front of us all evening during our dinner until Ariella translated them for us… “The world needs beauty”

Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 21 Those of us who are designers, creators, and artists have meaningful jobs. We live in what can be a dark, scary and lonely world. What we do is create beauty that softens the world. We create celebrations that are remembered for a lifetime. So when I start to question the point of it all… I remind myself that I do what I do… because the world needs beauty.

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In a few short weeks we will hold our own workshops  in our Seattle design studio.  My hope and prayer is that I can encourage, support and instill the same passion for design as Ariella did with me. I hope our attendees  walk away feeling like they can conquer any dream.  Mostly I hope they will leave with the understanding that their role in this life as a designer has great value… and that they will go with confidence and create the beauty that this world needs.

photos:  Corbin Gurkin 

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The Rainbow Wedding

Sinclair & Moore Hanna and Bret Rainbow Wedding  1 I’ve waited a long time to share the photos of this wedding that was featured in Martha Stewart Weddings.

Anyone who is familiar with my work knows that I love a neutral color palette.  Taupe… grey… champagne… blush… maybe touches of navy here and there.  Neutral colors are my favorite and definitely where I feel most comfortable designing.

Then I met the wonderful Ritt family.  They came in and colored my world with their bright personalities, love for people, passion for life and their request for a rainbow wedding.

I’m not going to lie… when I first heard the words rainbow and wedding, I wondered to myself how I was going to pull it off. They wanted it to be classy and sophisticated, yet fun and bright.  I remember googling “rainbow wedding”  and I was horrified with what I saw and it left myself wondering what had I gotten myself in to.  I was so far from my neutral color comfort zone and thoroughly confused as to how to pull it off.

I think that is what I love the most about this wedding.  I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and challenged to think bigger, better and brighter,  and the result was a wedding out of my normal box.  I learned so much from the mother of the bride, Laurie, throughout this process and not only came out a stronger and more diverse designer, but I think a better person too. Laurie reminded me why I started my business in the first place as she encouraged me to keep dreaming and perfecting good ideas until they became even better.  She pressed for me to give a particular reason why I did or did not like something in particular,  encouraged my talents, believed in my vision and in the end trusted me to just do my thing uninhibited.

I never thought I would do a rainbow wedding, but I am so glad that I did.  I couldn’t be more proud of the outcome and I am excited to finally share these photos from Belathee with you.

Make sure to also pick up a copy of the spring issue of Martha Stewart Weddings to see the 10 page feature of this affair.

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The Ranch Studios perfect captured this wedding and made the whole day feel like a dream.  Make sure to check out the vide below.

I also have to give my wife and business partner, Jamie, a huge shout out.  Sometimes credit is only given to the visual design of an event and people just talk about how beautiful it was.  Even more difficult than pulling together a design, is pulling together and managing about 50 vendors who all have specific needs and requests. From determining timelines to figuring out how much lighting, power, and space was needed to making sure nearly 200 plus people were picked up and shuttled to the wedding….  Jamie handled every detail of this event and managed to pull off a seamlessly smooth affair with grace and ease.  She read through and responded to literally thousands of e-mails for this wedding and hours and hours of phone conversations to make sure everything was in place.  She is truly the foundation of this wedding and the really hero in my book.  This would not have been a smooth wedding had her skill set and discerning eye not been overlooking every component of the day.  She makes our partnership strong.

And the other key vendors:

wedding dress: Vera Wang

hair and makeup: Erin Skipley

custom striped linens: Choice Linens

mini cakes and macarons: The Sweet Side

stationery: la Happy 

rentals: ABC Rentals

Ceremony Venue: Union Station

Reception Venue: The Four Seasons 

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