From Russia with love: designer crafts huge floral décor

Svetlana Grass is her new Summer BloomS store on Mitton Street. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Walking into Svetlana Grass’ new shop on a cold January day is like entering a fantasy world of colour and warmth.

Grass is a designer and maker of large floral installations, lamps and decorating accessories, a line of work that’s unique to the region.

Last year, Grass learned how to form sheets of rubber-like material into petals, using heat and glue to create elaborate blossoms. She makes roses, peonies, sunflowers and anemone into spectacular bouquets that stand two metres high.

She also makes single flowers into lamps and centrepieces, or groups them together as designer pieces for homes and businesses.

“People see them and say, ‘Wow!’” she says. “They rent them for their parties, their weddings or for gifts for their wives.”

Grass moved to Sarnia 14 years ago from Yekaterinburg, Russia. Her husband is from Sarnia and, when he brought her to his hometown, she was drawn to the water and wanted to stay.

“I love Sarnia,” she said. “I very much love the water and so we moved here.”

Grass has been a homemaker much of her time here while pursuing hobbies such as jewelry making and sewing to fulfill a creative streak. She also took an interior decorating course and is studying bookkeeping.

Last spring, during a trip to see family in Yekaterinburg, she was impressed by a new trend sweeping Russia of large floral arrangements and décor.

“It’s very popular in Russia,” she said. “I fell in love with giant, artificial floral design and took courses.”

Once home, she marketed her creations online, filling custom orders locally and, on occasion, shipping internationally.

But her house became crowded.

“Flowers were everywhere in our home,” she said with a laugh. “We could hardly walk, I had made so much. So we decided to move to a store.”

She found a storefront at 118 Mitton St. South where the rent is reasonable and floor-to-ceiling windows allow her to display her designs in a big, bright space.

Summer BloomS has been open less than a month and curious customers are coming in to learn more about the mysterious, oversized designs visible from the street.

Probably the largest bouquet on display has six flowers and took two months to complete.

“That’s because I make the pattern, cut each petal, and heat and shape each one,” she explained. There’s a wide range of prices and each oversized item can be rented or purchased.

A large, white hanging lamp, for instance, is $285 to buy or $75 to rent for an event.

A flower-shaped wall lamp is priced at $195 while a smaller table lamp is $65.

One of Grass’ most popular designs is a two-blossom floor decoration about a metre high that sells for $135.  At the other end of the scale is a two-metre pink and white bouquet made from crepe paper that rents for $450 and sells for $1,200.

Grass says she is open to discussing ideas with her customers and creating new products in various colours. She has plans to make a floral wall for wedding rentals and is participating in wedding shows.

She’ll have a display at the True Fantasies Bridal Expo at the Quality Inn on Feb. 22.

“I am bringing a Russian trend to Sarnia that will suit hotels, restaurants, spas and home décor,” she said.  “But it’s also beautiful for weddings, birthdays and other parties.”

For more on Summer BloomS, visit www.instagram.com/grass.svetlana/, check out the Summer BloomS Facebook page or call the shop at 519-331-0937.

Got a great idea for the Business Journal?  Contact cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca.