Proof that pursuing your dream is always worth the risk, Aliison Futeral, owner of Crimson Horticultural Rarities, threw caution to the wind and opened this boutique nursery in Temescal Alley with the goal of offering patrons with unique botanicals and beautiful handmade home goods. Since its inception, this neighborhood staple has been delighting customers with specialty items and a unique range of florals.
Holding the belief that one's outdoor and indoor spaces can blend together, Allison and her dedicated team offer consultation to every patron who walks through the door. Through selling rare treasures and literature, sharing ideas on how to display one's newly acquired plants, hosting horticultural classes, or providing event styling, Crimson has become a wildly popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
What do visitors of your shop get from the Crimson experience?
I think there is a mission here, which is to help people learn about plants and there abilities with them. Plants make life better, in our opinion. I would say the main thing that sets us apart is the intimate experience you get at Crimson. We really try our best to take time with each person that needs it and help them find the right plant or beautiful treasure that suits them and their space. We offer lots of plant care advice and we pot plants up for folks. I feel like we are starting to be known as a place to go and get help when you are having troubles with a plant.
How do you attract most of your customers?
Most are by word of mouth. We do not advertise anywhere. We have managed to build our Instagram following considerably, but would like to grow it more and figure out how to get those people in to the shop. There is a good amount of foot traffic, too, which is awesome. There was basically none for the first two years we were open, but now Temescal Alley is a destination.
And where do you source your incredible product?
There are two wholesale nurseries in SF that I shop at, and then there are a couple of other nurseries that I get shipments from. We also regularly go to the San Fransisco Flower Market.
You also do arrangements for weddings and events, right? What’s that process like? Is it consultative, or do you execute on your own vision when approaching each engagement?
Yes I do florals for weddings and events. Once I am contacted then I will send the potential client my basic price sheet to see if their budget aligns with my price points. From there we set up a consultation to meet and talk about flowers and visions. This is the opportunity for us to get to know each other a bit and see if we are the right fit for a collaboration. After our meeting I write up a proposal and then we see if my vision aligns with what the clients are looking for budget-wise. Hopefully one day I will be at the point where I can lead the creative direction a bit more, but for now I let the client lead.
What’s the secret to having a green thumb? Is there a trick to keeping plants alive and lush?
The best way to learn about plants is by taking care of them. You have to practice. There is no recipe to taking care of plants, only guide-lines. You have to be interested in them to get to know what they like in your particular space. It is not just something that you read in a book. Don't get me wrong, reading about them helps but not all plants do the same thing in each space. I would say that a part of learning is figuring out what doesn't work. I went to school for Horticulture and my success happened from being in the garden, and the unfortunate truth is that sometimes things die. That's how I learned.
What is the “weirdest” thing you have in your shop?
It changes. Currently we have some super cool ant plants. A lot of people think that the taxidermy and pheasant parts are pretty weird. But...what is weird to one is not to another, so it is subjective.
How about the most "popular" item? What do Crimson frequenters just have to have?
Plants and pottery are our top sellers but we have lines that do particularly well like Tatine Candles and Modernica, to mention a couple.
Do you have any plans to expand? What’s next or new for the shop?
My manager and I have been discussing this a lot lately. When is the right time to expand? Do you move to one larger space or do you open a second spot. Will we loose our customers if we move? We are definitely outgrowing our space but can't currently imagine which idea is the right one. Stay tuned!
What has been your favorite thing about being a part of the creative community in Oakland?
I have done some collaborations with other Temescal Alley tenants - mostly photo-shoots, which has been great and community-oriented. Other than that, my friend owns Flowerland which is an amazing nursery with a beautiful space on Solano, and we work together sometimes, too. We carry some of the same things and so we send folks each others' way. Oh and we have done quite a few weddings at Pizzaiolo so that has been a fun opportunity to collab, as well.
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