Speaker Profile: Whit McClure
We've invited floral artist Whit McClure to be our capstone speaker at the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit, where she will present a floral demonstration and share her inspiring Floral Activism message. Learn more about that presentation here.
For Whit McClure, authenticity and activism are key values which she brings to her Los Angeles-based floral business Whit Hazen.
After studying sociology at the University of Louisville, where she is originally from, Whit became interested in food justice and the local food movement. She worked on a farm in Maine and for a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, where she taught others how to create and maintain community gardens.
While bolstering her efforts through the slow food movement, she became interested in arranging flowers as a creative outlet. Through her designing, she became curious about how flowers were shipped and how the process could be improved, looking to the slow food movement for inspiration.
With this in mind, she decided to start her own event and subscription-based floral design business, Whit Hazen. She sources flowers locally and spreads the Slow Flowers message throughout her west coast community.
In conjunction with her business, she makes time to stay creative and activistic, delivering artistic messages on Instagram through her “Petals and Politics” installations. With her sociology background and her passion for equality and human rights, she uses her floral platform to share her voice and inspire followers, clients, and community members. I caught up with Whit McClure to chat about her experience, her visions, and her role at the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit.
Q. How did you first get involved in horticulture and why did you choose this path?
A. "After graduating from the University of Louisville, I got interested in food justice and the local food movement that was going on. So first was food, working on a farm in Maine and at a non-profit in DC, then at a restaurant that sourced locally. Then, I started working with flowers as a creative outlet, and became interested in where the flowers came from. So, I focused on shifting flowers to a more local focus.”
Q. How has the Slow Flowers message impacted you personally and how do you work to embody this movement in your daily practice?
A. “I love the Slow Flowers movement because it has created a community within flowers. I think that a lot of times, the base of things I find myself wanting to call attention to, to be addressed, the answer is building community. We’re able to feel connected to other people and how our paths are similar and different and we’re able to build solidarity in that. That’s where the draw is. Slow Flowers is a community, and we’re seeing an issue with how the industry is going and all of us want to shift that by building support.”
Q. What will be your role at the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit?
A. “My role will be to encourage people to give a new meaning to flowers and use their business as a form to take action and show your values. I want to cultivate a world full of beauty that gives space for joy, creativity, and inclusivity regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic class, and ability. We live in a messed up world, and I want our world of flowers to show that there’s still space for beauty while we fight back against the world around us.”
Q. How do you set your business, Whit Hazen, apart from your competitors?
A. “I think what sets me apart is that I am unapologetic about who I am and I’ve brought in politically charged dialogue to an industry that is benign. I am always incredibly nervous with my political posts because with social media it’s easy for people to come on the attack, but every time I’ve shared, I’ve had so much support. As long as you’re authentic, your people will find you.”
Q. What advice would you give to those who want to develop their floral and growing businesses?
A. “My advice is to be brave and unapologetic in terms of sending your message and what’s important to you. Step forth into it and do it. I would love and appreciate some company. We live in a time now where it is incredibly important to build community and be upfront about who we are and the world we want to create.”
About Mackenzie Nichols:
Slow Flowers contributor Mackenzie Nichols is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer. She writes regularly for the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine, and her work also appears in The Boston Globe, The American Gardener, Canadian Florist, and Tastemakers music magazine. She interned with MSNBC, Donna Morgan, and The American Horticultural Society and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Music Industry from Northeastern University. Mackenzie worked as a floral designer for Fern Flowers in Boston’s Back Bay Area, and Tiger Lily Florist, the top flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina. She lives in Manhattan’s East Village.