AN INSIDE LOOK:
Q&A with Eric and Jake Wegweiser of Horticultural Creations
For many years, Horticultural Creations has offered an innovative white-glove approach to floral design and plantscaping for businesses, offices, facilities, and venues across the Tri-State area. It’s an approach that has won them fierce loyalty from their clients and generated abundant interest even outside the NYC area…but it’s not always an approach that’s easily understood.
One of the best ways to gain insight into company culture is to talk with its leadership. To that end, Eric and Jake Wegweiser—President and Executive Vice President of Horticultural Creations, respectively—sat down with us to “peel back the curtain” and answer a few questions about their company philosophy and what sets their company apart.
As a floral design company, how do you determine the best plants and flowers for each event or display you undertake for your clients? What motivates those choices?
JAKE: When we’re given a project, we take a step back and take a bird’s-eye view approach to get the whole picture. What is the purpose behind adding plants? What is the client trying to accomplish? For example, is this for an event or seasonal thing, or are we decorating an office or C-Suite? For events, it’s more about trying to spruce up a space, doing it for a one-off, while a C-Suite project is to make the space classy and consistent for when guests come in.
Once we understand that part, then we ask other questions: What is the story that the company is trying to tell? What’s their brand image that they’re trying to show, not just to their employees and their clients that come in, but guests, their executives, etc.? How do they want to use the space? Is it supposed to be interactive? Is it something that’s just to be treated as like an art piece? Or do they just want to add a bit of green to their space? We try to really understand the true purpose behind the project, and then all of the plants and flowers then tie in for that…[taking into account] supply chain, figuring out what’s readily available, and color schemes, not only to match the season, but also the company brand to keep it a consistent story.
ERIC: Our creatives and creative director spend much of their time to design and create unique looks for each client. Because each space is different and unique, the plants and flowers are carefully selected to help tell the story that our clients want to convey. The first impression of any environment is so important, and the selection has to be well thought out in order to make the impact that our clients are looking for.
Let’s talk more about supply chain, since that’s a common challenge nowadays. How do you get around supply chain issues for your clients?
JAKE: Honestly, we try to give as big of a menu as possible. So if we can’t get option “A,” we can offer options “B” and “C” that are really close to that type of plant in terms of look, smell, color, and feel. And honestly, 99% of the people can’t tell the difference between the two plants, which is great, because at the end of the day, they’re still getting the look they want, but it just might not be the same name. If the client says, “No, we really want this specific plant,” and that’s totally okay…what we do is we give them a temporary similar plant at no additional charge. We’ll say, “Hey, just take it so you have the greenery there that you wanted. See how it looks in the space.” If they like it, they might just keep the temporary plant, but otherwise, when the specific plant they wanted does come in, we’ll just come and swap it out for them.
What are the benefits of using Horticultural Creations to custom-design a space versus picking pre-made arrangements?
ERIC: Custom designs help tell the story that our clients want to convey. It reflects their brand. Our job is to help make companies appear to be more valuable, to create that memorable first impression, and to have a unique visual experience for their guest, clients and employees. Pre-made generic displays are not why our clientele comes to us. They typically engage in our services for a distinctive and individual appearance.
JAKE: Everybody’s trying to be different now. Everybody’s trying to stand out, whether it’s an office building, whether it’s a new space, whether it’s just trying to get people back to the office, and so on. If you do something that is tailored to your company and brand, nine out of ten times, it’s going to have a little bit more of a pop because it’s unique. It’s not something you’re used to seeing every day. A custom design means you’re doing it to exactly the vision that you’re looking for.
I think that since we’re more of a design firm and less of a landscape firm, it really just allows us to provide better white-glove service. It allows our client to have a totally different experience, a more hands-on experience, a more involved experience, an overall more fun experience. And at the end of the day, the client actually put some skin in the game, and they help design, and at the end they just feel more proud.
What do you do to help clients keep their displays looking their best?
ERIC: We have a tremendous hardworking team who maintains and ensures that our displays remain intact. Our highly skilled associates are responsible for the care and well-being of each of our clients’ environments. It is imperative that when dealing with live products that we are proactive and communicative to help our clients’ best interests.
JAKE: The first part is just being highly accessible. Our clients have 24-7 access to myself. There is never a time where you cannot reach me. The client feels whenever they have an issue, it’s just being taken care of. The second is just providing ongoing support and care. We offer maintenance services so that as soon as you get an installation, our team is there every week at a bare minimum, coming in to help make sure the plants stay alive. We’re proactive, doing on-site check-ins, calls, weekly touches just to make sure that everybody is happy, and if there are any issues, we’re at least aware about it, if not in front of it already.
What questions do you wish clients would ask you to help you put your best foot forward as a company?
ERIC: In order to help our clients understand how we might be able to assist them, it is essential that there is an open dialogue. Questions about brand identity, unique visual experiences, and even how our process works are all welcomed. If not, those are typically the discussions that we have during our discovery phase. Our process goes through the discovery, recapture, successful outcomes, budgets, design concepts, visual displays, iterations, deliverables, and upkeep which will all have their own topics of both questions and answers.
JAKE: It’s a good question. One question we love to hear is, “How much do you anticipate this costing?” That’s the beauty of it—it can cost a dollar, it can cost $10 million. It’s really up to you and what you’re trying to do. That’s the beauty of taking a custom approach to floral and plant design.
“What makes you different?” I guess we don’t get asked that a lot, and that’s what I think clients should be asking. What trends are you seeing?
Another good question is “How can plants be art? How can plants positively impact the space as art versus a painting or other art forms?” Not so much about things like health benefits or purifying the air, because it’s very hard to quantify that. The truth is that with plants, the ROI is based on more intangibles…it’s similar to marketing. I think it’s not something you can put a monetary value to, but clients should be thinking about the more intangible benefit over time.
I’m not a scientist; I don’t know how to test the air quality and the purification of air over time, although I know it will be purified over time. But when clients tell us, “This part of the office was never used before, and now the team huddles there 30 percent of the day,” that’s something you can quantify. Or if you get a good response on an employee satisfaction survey, or you see people are smiling a lot more, that’s a positive return on investment.