Meet Margot Shaw, Editor of flower, a lifestyle magazine published in Birmingham for flower devotees. Margot discovered her love of flowers while working with area floral designer Sybil Sylvester and realized there was a need for a publication devoted to the beauty of flowers for flower enthusiasts, novice and professional floral designers everywhere. As a testament to its popularity, the magazine recently went from quarterly publication to bimonthly. Welcome, Margot!
Where did you grow up? And what brought you to Birmingham?
I’m actually a native Birminghamian, but I spent part of my early childhood in Switzerland, then Connecticut, New York, college in Virginia, a few years post-grad in Texas, and then I returned to the ’Ham when I married. And I’m so glad.
Tell us how flower magazine came about.
Well, I was working for floral and event designer Sybil Sylvester and kept yearning for a publication that would highlight what I loved: all things floral. Over Christmas 2004, I found myself digging through stacks of shelter and garden magazines to find a shred of edit on my topic. That’s about how much I found—a shred. Then I had a thought/impression/whatever you want to call it: “There’s no flower magazine, you need to start a flower magazine.” Being in Birmingham, the publishing mecca that it is, I was well positioned. I have to say I prayed and sought all kinds of help, as my publishing chops extended to writing for the Prattler at Brooke Hill School for girls in the fifth grade. Mostly, I have paid attention, responded to opportunities, worked very hard, and, most importantly, been surrounded by an amazing retinue of employees and advisors.
How has the magazine grown and evolved over the years, and where do you see it going forward?
I love to look at our early issues. I’m proud of them and pleased with our efforts, but the more recent magazines are more polished, more overtly visual, with more and more great writing and a bit broader brush—not just floral design, weddings, events, and gardens, but interiors, fashion, tabletop, jewelry—lifestyle with a floral imprint. We’ve also just made the move from quarterly to bimonthly, and we’re always tweaking or adding elements to our brand—with a fresh new website up soon and a robust social media presence—but I’d like to see even more people in the magazine. I know we’re focused on natural beauty, but I think we all want to know about the humans who take and shape it. And outside the pages, I think we’ll see more events like ADAC in Bloom. Also, I would not rule out a book…
Do you have a signature floral arrangement or a go to flower preference?
Right now I am all about ease and convenience, with a natural, gardeny feel. So, I often head to my husband’s garden and cut and arrange. I like to use unexpected containers, like a silver pitcher or a small tole wastebasket (lined, of course). Mostly I let the flowers do the arranging. You’re starting with perfection—the flowers—so it’s tough to screw it up.
What was your takeaway on upcoming trends from the recent ADAC in Bloom event in Atlanta?
I didn’t really plan this, but all the speakers, though different from each other, echoed my mantra, which is the title of a new book by Jennifer Boles, In with the Old. They all spoke to their own realms of design (garden, architecture, interior, floral, entertaining), but one of the common threads was retaining the best of what’s been before, and using it in a fresh, modern way.
What did your bedroom look like as a teenage girl?
I think I would still like my teenage bedroom. It was navy toile everywhere, white walls, red wicker scrolly headboards on twin beds, a French writing desk, and I’ll never forget the high-back Jacobean chair against the wall upholstered in blue ticking with red pom-pom–like tassels on the front corners. Yep, I would still enjoy living in that room, except for the twin beds …
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
EVER?? I guess I would have to say, “Wait on the Lord.” Patience is so challenging, but always rewarded—one way or another.
What advice would you give to others?
Same thing. But also, I think it’s so important for us to do what we love or enjoy professionally, not try to fit into some idea of what we or others think we should pursue or be. And that can involve patience … it most often does.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Play the piano and sing—as long as no one’s around.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Dinner and movie, play, or concert with friends or even just my best friend/husband.
Favorite local restaurant?
I can narrow down to four: Bottega (big), Hot and Hot, The Pantry, and Gilchrist.
What are you listening to these days?
Israel Houghton, Rolling Stones, Symphony Hall on XM, and Tim Keller on my phone.
What books are you currently reading?
Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History by Adam Nichols. It’s the story of Vita Sackville-West’s grandson reclaiming and restoring the iconic gardens to their original purpose (as he says, “to grow lunch”), The Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan, and The Dogs Bark, an obscure, later compilation of short stories by Truman Capote.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
One quirk is that I ALWAYS have to make my bed, maybe based on an irrational fear of coming home to a messy room after a long day at work?
If your house was on fire what’s the one nonliving thing you would grab?
A little ziplock bag that houses the only piece of clothing I have from my childhood: a darling little navy, red, and yellow madras sleeveless dress—nothing fancy, no smocking, etc., just a tangible piece of my past that I remember wearing, and always with my navy Keds with white rubber toes.
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God!)…
Not food, water, sleep—too obvious. Music, laughter, and beauty.
Thanks for sharing, Margot! To learn more about flower, visit the website at www.flowermag.com or pick up the latest issue at Barnes and Noble.
And a huge thank you to Beth Hontzas for today’s fabulous photos. To learn more about Beth, visit her website at www.bethhontzas.com.