Lisa Przystup checks a lot of cool boxes: smart, talented, beautiful, interesting and into plants. While working as a fashion writer, she found herself collecting little flowers and arranging them around her apartment, one day realizing that maybe this was her true calling. Hey, do what makes you happy. Her floral company, James’s Daughter Flowers, hasn’t been open long but Lisa hasn’t wasted any time building a little fortress of nature’s best and brightest. Read on to see what she thinks about blossoms vs words and urban life as a country girl.
How do you think fashion writing informs your floral arrangements? Can you compare words to blossoms?
I’m not sure that it does…but I do think that both fashion and flower arranging have an appreciation for beauty and design and proportion and color and play and movement. I don’t really think there’s a direct parallel but there certainly are underlying currents that inform both.
I can’t say that I can really compare words to blossoms – I never think of writing when I’m arranging. I think they’re two completely different creatures and ways of expressing oneself. I think that words have a sort of power that flowers don’t – they can speak to things tucked way deep inside, memories you don’t even know you had – emotional dust.
There’s no denying that flowers are beautiful and I definitely think they can evoke an emotional response but for me it’s a little less specific in some ways and hyper-specific in other ways - with flowers you’re dealing with more senses: smell, touch, sight. And smell can be a really powerful one. The smell of fresh cut grass instantly takes me home to summer and my dad mowing the lawn early Saturday morning.
What are your summer plans?
Last summer I made a list when I panicked, worried that I was missing all the season had to offer. I think I titled it “Summer: Cherish It” and then proceeded to list thinks like: beach, upstate, fireflies etc. It seemed to serve me pretty well so I’m just going to try to replicate the same list this year – just soak it all in, try to store all that warmth in my bones and lock away the memory of those hazy, lazy days.
My theory has always been if I close my eyes and really let myself be completely still in a moment it might be able to act as a sort of snapshot that I can turn to in the bleakness of winter. It’s a nice thought but winter is crazy powerful and the idea of my snapshot theory is better than the reality of its execution.
What are your tips for surviving a life as urban as one in NYC when you love the wildness of nature?
Appreciate the little slices of nature that the city offers. I was having a conversation with someone the other day about lilac bush sightings – she and her boyfriend were walking somewhere in the city and suddenly there one was: spilling and huge and fragrant – right in the middle of all the concrete and noise.
I think that living in the city really makes you appreciate nature even more than you might if you were privy to it all the time. Sort of like the first bite of food after you haven’t eaten all day. We are actually so lucky to have public spaces like Central Park, Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Wave Hill, The High Line etc. that we can get our green fix at. Even more wonderful is the fact that upstate is just a two-hour drive/train ride away.
What’s your favorite plant?
Philodendrons - I really love the ones that look like a dinosaur could be standing next to them – those prehistoric broad-leafed beauties. I also love staghorn ferns and I have a major weakness for succulents and cacti – all of which I manage to kill on a bi-yearly basis.
How long have you lived in NYC?
What do you cherish about your life here? I think I’m approaching five years this fall…it’s so hard to keep track. I really cherish the feeling of community – whether it’s in a creative capacity or the community your own neighborhood provides. It’s really something special.
What are you reading?
Just finished “The History of Love,” which had me crying on subway platforms and am starting “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tart. It’s a 700-page doozy – I hope to finish it in time for apple picking season.
What was the last amazing dinner you had? Where? Who was there? What did you eat?
It was at Romans in Fort Greene – my boyfriend and met there for a really early dinner – so early some may consider it a late lunch. The restaurant was quiet, almost empty, no jostling for bar seats or tables and they were playing the most beautiful classical music. We had a cardoon and bean salad, some mixed greens, a citrus salad, and melt-in-your-mouth brisket – the ingredients there are always so fresh and simple that even the most basic things taste amazing. Still haven’t forgotten that perfect glass of red I had and am still questing to find it again.
Describe your personal style in one word.
Upstate or out West?
Ooof. That’s a really hard one. I actually felt an instant pang of yearning at the mention of both those places – it was visceral.
There is something about the desert that evokes a certain yearning and quite loneliness that I find difficult to resist – it’s like the sound of a lap pedal steel guitar – plaintiff and dusty.
Upstate feels like an exhalation – it’s lushness, heady and green, overwhelms me every time and each season has its own sort of specific wonderfulness. Pass?
Flower crown or bouquet?
What finished James’s Daughter Flowers project is your favorite OR what are you really excited to work on?
I’ll be doing my first wedding this summer and am really excited to pop my wedding cherry. It’s early in my wedding career so I haven’t yet experienced a Bride-zilla or any horror stories. Right now I’ve still got my rose-colored glasses on - it’s kind of like when you first start dating somebody - everything is wonderful and full of sweet and trite romantic potential and I’m totally aware that there are some less than rosy aspects to weddings but I’m going to run with my misgivings for now. It’s such an honor to provide flowers for one of the most memorable and special days a person is going to have in their life.