When I arrive at Momentum Floral and Décor on Parmenter Street in Middleton, owner Tiffany Esser greets me. She introduces her husband, who is leaving with bouquets in hand to deliver. “He doesn’t work here regularly, but my normal delivery driver is on vacation. It’s a family business,” Tiffany says.
Tiffany started the business after 20 years of teaching interior design at Madison College. “I was ready to do something fresh but something that would still use my skills,” she says.
Tiffany combined her interior design background with her budding interest in florals by creating a business that offers both. Momentum is a full-service interior design firm and florist, and the shop on Parmenter Street also sells accessories and small gifts like candles, wall hangings, jewelry, and notecards.
The pieces, though varied and pleasantly unexpected (soap made with wine, lilac-colored throw pillows, a decorative bicycle sculpted from tarnished metal) share a cohesive style, one Tiffany best describes as “elegant rustic.”
Momentum’s floral “chef” is Randy Wieland, who has been working with flowers for fifteen years and is a Certified Floral Designer. Tiffany, who is learning from him, considers herself his “sous chef”.
Randy likes his arrangements to have a lush, unexpected look. This day, five enormous centerpieces waiting to be picked up for a 50th anniversary party are on display in the cooler. They’re dense and bright, with blooms and greens spilling over as if someone took a scoop of a flower patch in the forest. It looks like there could be nearly 50 different kinds, and I realize he might have intended for the variety to suggest the couple’s many years together. I had never realized flowers could be illustrative.
“I named the business ‘Momentum’ because, to me, it’s about creating momentum, not slowing down and not getting stale,” Tiffany says. This is evident in their designs. They source their flowers from local growers when possible; flowers, like yellow yarrow, hydrangeas, and sunflowers, come from nearby farms in the summer. And their roses look slightly different than most. Randy leaves the guard petals on roses, which lengthens the flowers’ lives and gives bouquets a natural, bucolic style.
Randy’s favorite work is creating sympathy arrangements, and Tiffany admits she didn’t immediately understand why. “He explained how much of an honor it is to be a part of the journey and provide some small piece of comfort. Flowers are one of the few aspects of a funeral that can be lovely,” she says.
Momentum offers potential clients complimentary consultations for both floral and interior design services. Interior design, in particular, requires a level of comfort. “How you use your home can be personal,” Tiffany says. “You need to feel a connection and know that a designer is right for you.”
Tiffany’s interior design work ranges from complete house styling, “down to every candle,” to conceptual plans clients follow to buy their own furnishings. The projects often involve making space serve dual purposes. One client had Tiffany create a yoga room that converts into a guest suite.
Many clients come with several ideas. Tiffany and her team edit the ideas to a manageable amount by honing in on the important ones. “Fewer ideas can be better,” she says. Tiffany suggests finding at least one inspiration piece and basing design ideas off of that.
Other times, Tiffany challenges clients to do more or take a look further. “People tend to be afraid of pattern, texture, and color. They want to play it safe and stick to beige linen,” she says. Tiffany, like designer Diane von Furstenberg, counts animal prints as neutrals.
Tiffany uses a variety of tools to help clients envision looks. A large screen hanging over the counter shows Pinterest images and color swatches, and an iPad app allows her to take a photo of a room and virtually change the paint color. This recently helped a couple get comfortable with a fuchsia wall she had suggested for their study. “They weren’t sure about it at first, but I reminded them nothing is permanent, it’s just paint,” she says. Not surprisingly, the color worked because Tiffany had pulled it from a piece of artwork they had in the room.
Those who assume interior design is out of their price range shouldn’t count it out entirely. “Someone who tries to do something themselves might end up spending a lot of time and money searching, buy something, realize it’s not quite right, and then need to buy something else,” Tiffany says. “A skilled eye can accomplish in an hour what might take another person weeks.”
Nowadays, interior design trends change more rapidly than in the past. “They are getting closer to the speed of clothing fashion, though luckily not quite that fast,” Tiffany says. She recommends keeping trends in throw pillows and accessories while sticking to classic or timeless items for the bigger pieces.
As the name “Momentum” suggests, Tiffany enjoys the variety and excitement that changing styles and running two businesses at once bring her. She appreciates that every day is different, but admits her favorite days are those when she has time to put on her floral apron, listen to music, and create. “None of what we do is essential, but it makes life a little happier,” she says. “A few fresh flowers can go a long way. They can change a mood, a day, a life. And the fact that they aren’t going to last forever is part of the beauty.”
Cara Lombardo is a writer and graduate student.