Jennifer Bowes’ floral preservation business encapsulates fresh flowers in beautiful sculptures, earrings, necklaces, ring holders and more.
The hard part about beautiful flowers is they die far too quickly. But Jennifer Bowes has made it her mission to preserve blooms in time so you can have them forever. Forage & Flower is a floral preservation business that creates botanical artwork out of beautiful flowers. Whether it’s a wedding bouquet or a memory of a loved one, she can take precious petals from a special event and preserve them using her resin craftwork.
Bowes officially got into the floral arranging business during the pandemic after working in the corporate world for years. She loved creating bouquets since college and would volunteer to help friends and family with special events. When she began working remotely, she started devoting more time to the skill and learned about floral preservation.
“It was a side hustle for a long time. When I was building my career in the corporate world, I always had it in the back of my mind that it was my dream to do flowers full-time,” she says. “During the pandemic, I had more time to focus on it, since I was working from home and didn’t have a three-hour commute every day.”
While she loved creating beautiful displays, she also wanted to hone the craft of preservation. “What’s more sad than a beautiful bouquet that is so gorgeous on your wedding day, but then you know it’s going to die in a couple days,” she says. “I was searching for something that would preserve that beauty and keep the integrity of the flowers, so that they can be enjoyed forever.”
Bowes researched different methods and settled on resin. She starts by completely drying out the flowers, using a drying agent, before she sets them in resin. The flowers have to be fresh and not wilted, and they stay in the agent for a few weeks. After that, they are in a very fragile state, but once they are cleaned off and the petals are intact, she can start pouring the resin; some of her sculptures might be made with twelve layers of it.
“I found that resin was the best medium to preserve and keep the flowers looking as great as they were when they were the most alive and most beautiful,” she says.
There’s a three-month lead time for floral preservation for weddings, so it’s best to reach out as soon as possible. Different offerings include blocks, wine stoppers, earrings and necklaces, and there is also a ring holder that can be made with wedding blooms. “You can put your new bling on a ring holder that’s made out of your wedding flowers,” she says.
While 90 percent of her business is from weddings, she also preserves memorial flowers. “I have a memorial block that you can include with a photo of a loved one and put different things inside with the flowers, like a locket or ring,” she says. “You can make mementos that are really special.”
Bowes also attends markets with ready-made pieces featuring beautiful blooms. She updates her website with the latest events. The wine stoppers are the most popular gift idea. Another option is her botanical artwork, which includes foraged materials she finds locally while on walks. “I go to Newport to find treasures on the beach like shells or some cool branches,” she says. “I like incorporating them into pieces, or making a wall hanging out of a piece of driftwood that I found walking on the beach or sticks found in the woods while hiking.”
In summer, there might be grasses. “I like to include little treasures from my garden; pieces of plants that you wouldn’t think could be featured as artwork, but they are really beautiful and unique and look great when you press them,” Bowes says.
She’s recently been able to leave the corporate world and focus solely on Forage & Flower. While she isn’t doing as much floral arranging as she had in the past, she offers a monthly subscription of fresh flowers. Floral preservation takes up the bulk of her work.
“I love creating pieces. I love seeing a customer’s face when I deliver their piece back to them, watching their smile light up makes it all worth it,” Bowes says. “It’s really fulfilling to be able to create these special memories for people.”