t was a serendipitous encounter at Dose Market–the former River North curated food and fashion exchange–that led to the partnership between Heidi Joynt and Molly Kobelt. Today, the co-owners of Chicago floral atelier Field & Florist run their own flower farm, creating bouquets and arrangements for dozens of events each year while also operating a shop focused on floral and specialty home goods. “I think our first day working together at the farm we staked dahlias, because I remember sitting in the front seat of Heidi’s car with about 50 metal poles sticking out the window,” Kobelt says. “Ever since, we’ve had many long conversations while harvesting dahlias.”
The women come from divergent backgrounds but share a common love of flora. Joynt first dipped her toe in the water of the floral business when she was working at the Chicago Botanic Garden. While there she began experimenting with flower boxes based on the Community Supported Agriculture veggie-box model whereby customers pay for regularly scheduled orders up-front, providing the financial backing for farmers to purchase seeds and materials for the season ahead. “I spent 10 years working in urban agriculture and environmental education before transitioning to flower farming and design,” Joynt says. “I was interested in bringing sustainable practices to other sectors of agricultural production that weren’t receiving enough attention.” A year later, the business was thriving, so she quit her full-time job and opened Field & Florist, originally growing the blooms on a farm in Barrington.
Kobelt’s path was very different. She had worked in business and marketing but wanted an escape from the dreariness of office life. “I was looking for an opportunity to get out of the city and spend time outside,” she recalls. The need for change was motivation enough to face an early wake-up call–she met Joynt on a street corner at 5:30 a.m. for their first trip up to the farm and they’ve been working together ever since.
Today, Field & Florist is thriving. Joynt and Kobelt recently transitioned the business from the Barrington farm to their own Michigan farm and opened their floral boutique and design space in Wicker Park. The duo walks the line between growing what they know their clients will like and things they find interesting to introduce into the market. “The palette we work within has always been inspired and informed by what is in the field and what we have foraged,” says Joynt, who along with Kobelt spends two days each week at the farm’s fields and greenhouses cultivating flowers for clients. “When we consider what to grow, we first ask ourselves, ‘What do we want to design with? What is special?'”
When the business partners aren’t on the farm or servicing clients, they’re hosting workshops, such as wreath-making, or brainstorming on an upcoming fragrance collaboration with a perfumer. Yet it’s the time at the farm that offers the most inspiration for the pair’s design work. “Those days are my favorite,” says Kobelt. “Seeing what is in bloom, how the flowers interact with one another in the field, finding unusual stems or unexpected varieties and pairing them with greens we’ve found sets the tone for that week’s designs.”
PHOTOS: PETRA FORD
Meet More Makers