Anyone who’s ever tried to cut, pick, trim and arrange flowers by themselves knows it takes a certainje ne sais quoi. Eva De Leon knows this better than anyone and while she doesn’t have any formal training as a florist, her newSage Sisters store in North Park is filled with arrangements that are both glamorous and exotic.
“I am an artist so it was important to me that I had a business where I was able to create with my hands,” says De Leon, who also works as a sculptor and site-specific installation artist. “I think of flower arraigning almost as soft, ephemeral sculpture.”
De Leon used to pick flowers in Mexico City with her sister (hence the name of the store), but says she really got her start when she did the flower arranging at her own wedding. Guests were impressed and started hiring her, and her reputation for creating unique pieces began to spread. She gained enough experience to feel affirmed that she could make it as a florist.
Still, finding a space wasn’t easy. She looked for almost a year before settling inside the Union Cowork building (3060 University Ave.). She also stocked the store with items that could conceivably be paired with flowers, such as chocolate bars, tea and fashionable accessories. When it comes to the flowers, De Leon chose to bypass the typical arrangements for a more nuanced, earthy selection.
She claims to be the only store to carry flowers such as parrot tulips and proteas, which can live for weeks. She accents them with atypical plants like eucalyptus twigs to give the arrangement a more natural look.
Another differentiation that De Leon hopes makes her stand out is her commitment to sustainability. She mentions that one of the taboo topics in the floral industry is that up to 50 percent of the inventory is waste. To prevent this, she’s partnered with the YWCA to donate unused inventory to places like Becky’s House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Talking with her, one gets the sense that she’s in the industry for the right reasons.
“It’s akin to being a bartender,” says De Leon. “People feel like they can share stories with you. You’re often getting the guys who’ve done something wrong and I’m all about helping reestablish that connection. There’s also just being there for someone’s loss or for those happy moments. It’s very special.”