Flashback to May 2, 2015…my mom and I visited The Wedding Co. show at the Gladstone Hotel…
My husband (Rob) and I had got engaged seven months prior – October 15, 2014 – and this was our first official research into planning the big day (September 24, 2016). Since Rob and I planned on waiting a couple years to get married, we had lots of time to plan (however it did go by very quickly)! Everything at the Wedding Co. was beautiful. One of the first vendors we stopped at was a floral design company called Benny & ViV. We met the lovely ladies behind Benny & ViV – Sarah and Andreea – and just loved their tablescape that they had set up. They were very informative as to when we should seek out a florist, how much blooms typically cost, etc., etc. Once 2016 rolled around we had to start making concrete decisions. I had been following Benny & ViV on Instagram and just loved the work they did, and their energy and passion really stuck with me from when I met them at the show…so I called them up and voila…they were the ladies who made our ceremony and reception absolutely beautiful. They were SO much fun to work with. Sarah and Andreea were tremendously helpful in making our vision become a reality and they offered so many suggestions into transforming everything into the most beautiful wedding.
I was sad at the thought that once all the planning was done that my weekly/bi-weekly emails would end with them. Thankfully we’ve stayed in touch and I’m so excited to share how these boss ladies stay organized, creative and stress-free in their busy lives.
Sarah Levine and Andreea Rotescu are not just the founders of this beautiful company but they are the best of friends. They’re an amazing duo…you will love learning more about them.
Megan: How did the two of you meet?
Sarah: We met in our twenties working at a textile supplier while we were in design school. I can’t believe we’ve known each other for over 13 years!
Megan: How did you get into the floral industry?
Sarah: Growing up, my mother was an avid gardener. She passed on to me her appreciation for plants and flowers. After establishing myself in the interior design world, it was a natural leap to merge my design training with my long time love of flowers. Weddings are the other piece of the puzzle…I LOVE working with clients who are in love. It’s such a treat to be included in that energy, to be a part of something so very special. It really is an honour.
Andreea: For as long as I can remember I have loved flowers…I’ve always snapped up fresh flowers at the market and spent time arranging them, photographing them and really just enjoyed being in their presence. I became the “go-to” flower girl among my friends as they started asking me to arrange a bouquet here and there, add blooms to their engagement party and then a friend was getting married and I was asked to do their flowers….and then another and another. I always knew I would end up doing something with flowers and so did Sarah. It was only a matter of time before we created Benny & ViV. Best decision ever!
M: Who are Benny & Viv – how did you come up with the name?
S: I’m the “Benny”! Ben, or Benny affectionately, is the name of my oldest son. There is something magical about the way children see the world…in the way that anything is possible. Even having a career that surrounds you in beauty. He’s been inspiring me to “go for it!” ever since he was born!
A: Viv was my great aunt – the kind of woman who wouldn’t leave the house without her lipstick and pearls on. The kind of woman who insisted that fresh cut blooms were a necessity in her home. She taught me to surround myself in beauty so I still follow her lead and use my best china & linens everyday. Oh, and P.S. the second capital ‘V’ in Benny & ViV is not a mistake, she was special so the spelling had to be too!
M: How do you stay organized while running your own business? Do you have any tips to share?
S: Lists, lists, lists! I’m a sucker for a pretty notebook (thanks Rifle Paper Co!) and have some pretty intense mommy brain, with two littles at home I write everything down. I keep paper and a pen on me at all times because I’m always thinking of ideas for the business and if I don’t get them on paper, they’re gone. Most useful for me is having a notebook on my night table for the ideas and “to do’s” that inevitably only come to mind when I’m falling asleep!
A: Oh Sarah will love my answer! When we have any meetings over the phone she always pauses and says, “did you write that down, write that down!!” We’re both list ladies, but Sarah takes it to another level! I handle a lot more of our paperwork so I find keeping a super organized filing system is key. I like to give each of our clients their own space in our office as we’re always brainstorming and adding visuals to our upcoming events. I’m also attached to my phone 24/7 so I rely heavily on calendar updates and alerts.
M: What are your favourite flowers?
S: Oh my answer to this changes by the day! Lately I’ve been inspired by Pantone’s colour of the year “Greenery”. I’m really into lush greens and I think we’re going to see this influencing many of our 2017 weddings!
A: I love the classic rose, love them in every colour! Even every stage of them opening – from tight bundles into gorgeous full blooms! Oooooh delish! But I also agree with Sarah, if we are talking about current favourites, greens are my latest obsession too. I love layering all the different shades and textures! Just stunning!
M: What is your favourite season for blooms?
S: I love summer! Peonies, dahlias, ranunculus…so many beauties are available and so many stunning blooms found as close as your own backyard! We always favour using locally sourced flowers wherever possible.
A: I thought I favoured summer too but I really, really love autumn flowers. I adore the rich colours and all the variety at the markets. From roses to sunflowers and let’s not forget the cabbage! I just love adding cabbage to our arrangements.
M: Do you have any tips for balancing work and life? How do you do it?
S: My biggest piece of learning around finding balance between having two small kids at home and running my own business has been learning to ask for help. This has never been my forte but it truly has become a necessity if I want to thrive and actually enjoy all the parts of my life. It’s not just about survival for me, I savour the time I have with my sons, being fully present with them and also being completely committed to our clients and enjoying the time I spend designing and creating pieces for their events. The funny thing is that most people actually enjoy being of help. I just had to learn how to ask for the help and then learn how to accept it! I have an unbelievably supportive husband and family whose help has allowed me to find and maintain my balance.
A: I have to agree with Sarah here, 100%. Asking for help has been a learning process for both of us. We also discovered that our business thrived when we focused on the parts of B&V that we loved doing and delegated the tasks neither of us enjoy very much out to our staff. That actually makes us better designers and allows us to spend our energy solely on creating our clients’ visions into a reality!
M: Is wedding season hectic? How do you keep stress and chaos under control?
S: Yes, there’s no way around it. Wedding season is a super-busy time for us. Andreea and I thrive under pressure but it’s also imperative that we stay organized. We’ve created a series of checklists for each step of our process to ensure everything is executed perfectly. Oh, and lots of caffeine!
M: What’s your favourite way to de-stress?
S: For me it’s about quiet. I try my best to find moments throughout the day for meditation. I unplug from all tech and get present with my boys. Aside from that, I live for a hot cup of coffee and a crossword puzzle. Oh and massages, lots of massages!
A: I love my ‘me’ time. Coffee in hand, a nice walk through U of T campus, maybe a quick mani/pedi and ending up at Indigo to read my favourite magazines, perfect day and instant chill!
M: Who are your role models?
A: Other than my great aunt ViV and the fabulous Audrey Hepburn for her style and effortless elegance I have to say my dear Mom, Stela. Everything she does, she does with grace and beauty. I’m so grateful to get my work ethic from her as she never takes shortcuts and doesn’t quit until the job is done, and done perfectly! She is my superstar.
M: I know you guys aren’t just business partners but also best friends, is it hard to work side-by-side with your BFF? Do you ever come across any challenges?
S: Of course! The most important thing for us in being business partners and best friends is having a commitment to open and honest communication. We don’t always agree and we definitely have different ways of doing things so it’s been incredibly valuable to have a foundation of friendship working for us. Above and beyond that, it’s imperative to HAVE FUN! Our workdays together are full of laughter.