the petaler sf.
the petaler sf is a San Francisco floral design business run and owned by Rebekah Northway — think of it as gorgeous flowers on the go. this is just the coolest, most enterprising idea i’ve seen in a while. cindy and her camera caught up with rebakah and her sweet little van and we asked her how she got the the petaler sf started. local san francisco restaurants have been the cornerstone of rebekah’s floral portfolio, with offices and private residences rounding out her weekly accounts, but she does floral design for a variety of weddings and events as well — “they are the icing on the cake, as my weekly accounts provide a steady stream of business”. the petaler sf also takes her van to the san francisco streets and hosts a pop-up flower shop. let’s go on the road with the petaler sf.
When did you start your floral business?
Approximately 8 years ago. I was working at Limon, and we moved in to a new, larger space that was begging for flowers. I expressed as much to the owners, and they left it up to me to do it. Without any training or experience, I got my start and made the most of it. With the restaurant community being relatively tight-knit, it was not long before I started acquiring additional restaurant accounts. Before long, I realized I had started my own business.
How did you decide to go mobile and take your floral business on the road?
Out of necessity. Due to the nature of my accounts and the size of my materials, I outgrew the little SUV that I drove all over the city with 10 foot branches strapped to the roof rack. I got the truck two years ago, and I cannot imagine how I would do my day to day work without it at this point. Additionally, I knew that this truck would offer the flexibility to have sidewalk sales and pop-ups, an opportunity to share my work and bring some color to the streets of San Francisco.
How can people find you and your mobile floral van?
Instagram has been my social media outlet of choice, it expresses my work tastefully while allowing me to post announcements to a broad audience.
Are most of your arrangements created from locally foraged plants and flowers?
A large percentage of what I buy is local and foraged, considering that the bulk of my work is branch based. There is a bounty of goods that grow in California and we’re very spoiled, but that doesn’t mean I’m always able to pass up a peony from Oregon, or a tulip from Holland.
Do you shop the San francisco flower mart? How early do you get there?
I do shop at the flower mart at least four days a week and try to arrive by 5:30 AM. Depending on what the day calls for, I might arrive earlier or later. We are so fortunate to have the San Francisco Flower Mart in our city. Both as a member of the floral industry and for the public, the Flower Mart brings a wonderful variety of flowers and foliage sourced locally, domestically, and internationally. There are not many places like it, and I encourage everyone to check it out and support this piece of SF history. (note: it is open to the public!)
Maybe a silly question, but I’m curious — where do you park your Petaler SF van in San Francisco at night?
I’ve been parking it on the street and have been pretty fortunate so far. I have mixed feelings, as I’ve had my eyes and ears open for a suitable space to rent parking. However, when I’m wrapping up at the end of the day, so many people approach me to express their curiosity and delight for my little van that it would make me a little sad to take that character out of the neighborhood.
• all photos by cindy loughridge for sfgirlbybay.