Victoria Monsul Singolda
“I love the energy, I love the action, I love the pressure, I just love it,” Victoria Monsul Singolda exclaims, her palpable energy swarming around her breezy West Village balcony. “I just love that moment!”
The moment she is referring to is something most people would find highly anxiety-inducing: seeing the culmination of hard work and everything come together for what she describes as “show time,” within the lightning-fast pace of the styling, events and advertising industries; specifically creating strikingly unique floral concepts for a range of clients.
Although leveraging and expressing the beauty of flowers is what gets Victoria out of bed every day, it would be minimizing to say that her business, Iris & Virgil, is purely a florist. The New York-based team are in fact storytellers and conceptualizers – executing arrangements and compositions that deliver a narrative.
Victoria’s relationship to, and adoration for flowers has been long withstanding. Growing up, flowers were an everyday fixture in her New Jersey household. Her mother, a frequent entertainer, would artfully assemble arrangements to maximize their magic. Looking on with awe as a young child, this is indubitably where her impeccable eye for detail began.
Equally influenced by her father, a General Physician and a talented writer, Victoria found her creative outlet in writing poetry at a young age. Recognising she had talent after being publicly celebrated for her early poetry work, the medium proved to be a pervasive presence throughout the breadth of her career.
The fusion of these two passions – flowers and poetry – are the driving forces in what would ultimately become Victoria’s vision for Iris & Virgil.
ON GROWING UP
Operating a lemonade stand on the sidewalk to make a few extra bucks: it’s an entrepreneurial endeavor most kids have experimented with. The operative word being most; Victoria’s childhood stand sold flowers instead. (Picked from her neighbor’s gardens, and then re-sold to them, no less), “I didn’t really ask anyone for permission. I just asked for forgiveness later,” she laughs.
Growing up with strong European influences with Polish heritage, she didn’t spend her weekends like a typical child: she would visit museums and accompany her mother in voyeuristic expeditions of viewing interiors of open house inspections.
While pilfering flowers wasn’t encouraged by her parents, writing prose and pursuing an education certainly was.
Following an acceptance into Pratt Art School to study Art Direction, she branded herself as a purveyor of creative client services that included an impressive repertoire of hats: project manager, account director, producer of content, to name a few.
It was at her most recent employer, producing content for brands at The Wall Street Journal, she recognized the corporate grind as stifling.
“I had just started to get that crazy itch around 3 pm – I couldn’t sit still. I gave my notice to The Journal and I left soon after,” she explains.
FROM CORPORATE TO CREATIVE
The answer for what to do next presented itself to Victoria throughout a meditation, where she envisaged flowers emanating from her palms; “I saw tornados of vines and flowers coming out of my hands. I could feel the energy of them.”
Taking it as a calling, Victoria enrolled in a course at the New York Botanical Garden with art-master and flower-aficionado Brittany Asch, which parlayed into a summer intensive that she describes as “the best time of my life.”
The energy Victoria extended into the universe boomeranged back in spades, landing her an apprenticeship at distinguished New York florist Putnam and Putnam, after brazenly approaching one of the designers at the flower market. This level of confidence is not an aberration in behavior – the impressive bank of collaborators and contributors that are collectively part of the Iris & Virgil team are a testament to Victoria’s well-established interpersonal skills.
The apprenticeship, an informative experience where Victoria added to her bank of creative connections, taught her not just how to work with flowers, but more importantly – people. Something that would become the cornerstone of the Iris & Virgil brand.
THE GENESIS OF IRIS & VIRGIL
With inimitable exposure and solid footing within the industry; Victoria seized the opportunity to establish her own business. The name was an obvious choice; paying homage to her two long-standing loves of flowers (Iris) and poetry (Virgil) and the people who introduced her to them: her mother and father.
Iris, being the feminine muse and messenger of the gods, and Virgil, being the masculine muse and famed ancient Roman poet, it’s only fitting that every arrangement that leaves the Iris & Virgil studio has both masculine and feminine influence and elements.
“It’s not always a perfect balance, but both elements are unfailingly there. Perhaps it’s feminine elements arranged in a masculine way or masculine elements in a feminine vase – but the symbiosis is always present”, Victoria explains.
As her first venture, she sought to remedy perceived a gap in the market to deliver weekly bunches of flowers to offices and homes – “weeklies” – around New York. A time-consuming, individualized endeavor, but ultimately worthwhile.
“If sending and ordering flowers were easier, everyone would have them,” she says. “With our weeklies, we ensure that every arrangement we do is different from the last; Client A will never look like Client B. We do a consultation with everyone with their space and what elements they’re working with – down to their lighting and art. There’s a lot of thought that goes into them.”
Unsurprisingly, she acquired her first dozen clients by adopting a traditional hustler mentality and grassroots approach – calling everyone she knew.
“All of a sudden I was getting requests for dinner parties, particularly table styling for intimate events. It was a fun way to get creative – my work became very conceptual. I genuinely enjoy collaborating with individual clients and brands on projects big and small – dreaming up different concepts that are relevant to every individual moment.”
THE IRIS & VIRGIL DIFFERENCE
The Iris & Virgil approach is certainly not one-size-fits-all. The process of learning about a person or a new client – considering how bespoke a concept or composition can be – is the force behind Victoria’s drive.
Her background in editorial and art contributes to her ability to cut through the noise and tell a story – a huge differentiating factor in a crowded industry - not to mention the obvious and admirable care and respect that she has for the flowers she works with.
She asserts, “After they’re cut, the flowers aren’t growing any more – but there’s still a vibration and energy to the flowers. We want to maximize the psychological impact they have through the stories that each composition will tell.”
One thing is for certain: the flowers that are under the care of Iris & Virgil are in very good hands.