Beth Jackson can talk about tulips, benjamin buttons or sweet peas for hours. Few people are keen on discussing flower types for more than a fleeting minute, but for Jackson, it’s a new and lifelong passion.
Jackson, a former UNT College of Music admin and professional opera singer, operates her own floral design business called Laughing Earth Flowers. The name was inspired by the famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “The earth laughs in flowers.”
Ever since its initial launch in 2012, Jackson has hit the ground running with her passion for the art of floral design.
“To me, that’s part of being an artist,” Jackson said. “You’ve given something to somebody that they can identify with, that they can experience something beyond their day-to-day lives. It’s like you’re making flowers for emotion.”
Jackson spent a large part of her childhood in her grandmother’s flower shop. She remembers hanging around while she worked, whether it be meeting with customers or making arrangements. Despite the brutal West Texas heat, Jackson also watched her mother nurture rose bushes, irises and even a dwarf peach tree in the family’s backyard.
She was always surrounded by the flora and fauna, but it wasn’t until later in life that she discovered her natural talent for it.
“Some friends discovered that I made nice arrangements and would always ask if I could make them for a party or an event,” Jackson said. “After a while I finally got one person to ask if I wouldn’t mind doing their wedding flowers for the first time.”
After performing as a professional opera singer, Jackson began to acknowledge what her close circle of friends has been saying the whole time — floral design was a natural skill worth pursuing.
“I sang for about seven years as an opera singer when I graduated from [UNT] and got tired of living out of a suitcase,” Jackson said. “But [an] artist needs to have an art. So floristry was the next thing.”
Jackson started reading a countless number of blogs, watching other florists work and taking up courses at the American Institute for Floral Designers. She had already worked at local flower shops in between singing gigs.
The daily routine of working at a shop attracted her to more flexible forms of floral design, like special events rather than operating a business in front an endlessly rotating door.
“Special event floristry would give me the time to concentrate solely on design and working with a specific kind of client instead of the day-to-day business of running a shop,” Jackson said.
Ever since Laughing Earth Flowers was established, Jackson has been operating it as a one-woman show. She creates, arranges and delivers everything, often working out of her home and meeting clients at nearby coffee shops in lieu of a studio.
“I always joke about how our house turns into the flower zone,” said Jeffrey Snider, Jackson’s husband, and a UNT voice professor. “She doesn’t have a shop, so she always keeps our bedroom really cold to keep the flowers nice and fresh. People ask how it’s going and I say, ‘well, she’s got a wedding coming up, so it’s the flower zone.’”
Studio or lack thereof, Jackson sees it as a way to channel her service and talent into the community.
“Artistry is artistry no matter what your medium is,” Jackson said. “The artist needs to make art and you need people to have the art to view because that interaction is part of what defines us as a community”
In the midst of a growing business, Jackson said she still faces the challenge of running a completely independent endeavor.
The struggles and complications that come with owning such a complex business aren’t the easiest challenges to get through.
“When you’re starting a new business, there are just one or two days a month where I have to cry because of the worries,” Jackson said. “You’re always thinking, ‘what does it mean to succeed?’ On one hand, to succeed is that I can support myself doing this even if I didn’t have my husband’s salary to help me. But to succeed means that you’re finally getting to do something that you love.”
Despite the stress, Jackson has been collaborating with other wedding planners and events. Her keen eye has been favoring her reputation among the local community.
“I had a vision for what I wanted, but I don’t know what to say as far as [which type of] flower to use,” said Kaitlyn Keller, a wedding planner for Blue Dress White Rabbit. “I was only able to send her photos of [what I wanted], but she was able to take inspiration from those photos and [create] something new that wasn’t a copy of anything while still capturing the vision that I was going for.”
Since its inception, the business has been steadily gaining notice from the community, a badge of pride that she wears dearly. As it continues to expand, Jackson is looking nowhere but forward.
Although the floral business is a lot different than the music business, both showcase the beauty that comes with being passionate.
“It’s a rewarding thing for me to get to know clients and design something for them that when they see it they feel personally moved,” Jackson said. “Now, that’s like a little piece of beauty that they take with them.”
Featured Image: Beth Jackson, UNT Alumna and owner of her floral shop, Laughing Earth Flowers, poses in the College of Music courtyard. Jackson was a professional opera singer before opening up her own floral shop. Sara Carpenter