Francis Hilario and Hope Janelle Berninghausen of Philadelphia Neighborhoods caught up with a number of Northwest Philadelphia artists for an artist spotlight series this week. The first piece features Necoh Brewington-Mitchell of Royal Design Flowers and Events in East Falls. Check back tomorrow for a profile of glass artist Jim Loewer.
Growing up in Minneapolis, Minn., Necoh Brewington-Mitchell was surrounded by flowers.
“[My mom] always had flowers growing and knew all the Latin names and all that good stuff, so I just liked it, too,” Brewington-Mitchell said. “One of my first memories is of poppies that we had growing outside and I thought they were so cool.”
It sparked a childhood passion that eventually worked its way into her nine-year career.
“I always thought that working had to be some type of nine-to-five [job], although I never got into that,” Brewington-Mitchell said. “I’ve always been a creative person; I never thought flowers could be a job. I knew people did it, but I never thought it could be for me until I kind of stumbled into it.”
Brewington-Mitchell’s road to opening her own floral studio, Royal Design Flowers & Events at 3510 Scotts Lane in the Sherman Mills complex, started when the company her sister worked for needed a floral designer.
“I had some ideas and she thought, ‘maybe you could do them,'” Brewington-Mitchell said. “I proposed [it and] got the [business] contract in 2008, and at that point I realized this is something I really loved and really can do so I just started, and it’s gotten bigger from there.”
Brewington-Mitchell is a self-taught floral designer who sees her lack of formal education as an advantage.
“School, I think, is wonderful but I think sometimes [people] limit themselves because they only do what they were taught,” Brewington-Mitchell said. “Some of the things I do are a little different and could be a little better [because] I’m learning as I go rather than someone telling me what to do.”
One of the techniques that she puts her own twist on is the creation of corsages. A corsage is normally made by wiring and taping a flower stem to a holder. Brewington-Mitchell, however, said she uses floral glue to put a corsage together in order to save time.
Brewington-Mitchell says, naturally, she has more experience now than when she worked her first wedding but adds that it’s all part of evolving as an artist.
“I feel bad because I’ve learned so much more since then but it still was beautiful,” Brewington-Mitchell said. “I think all people who are creative look at their first work and go, ‘Really?’ But for the time, it was great.”
The studio, which has been in business since 2008, offers flower arrangements in addition to event decor and event planning.