Q&A CLAUDIA ROVNER, DAVE’S FLOWERS ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD.

37
CLAUDIA ROVNER, DAVE'S FLOWERS ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD

There are hundreds of floral designers serving the community of Hollywood, but I was looking for a brick-and-mortar shop with an older Hollywood story, rescripted for the modern glamour of today. My research led me to Dave’s Flowers, right on Hollywood Boulevard, and Claudia Rovner. Claudia and husband Paul, purchased the shop in 1987 from Paul’s retiring parents. Their elegant floral design has established Dave’s Flowers as one of the foremost purveyors of flowers for the movie and television industry; L.A.’s many museums and institutions; plus weddings, parties and events hosted by their local clients. I found Claudia catching her breath between events and listened as she shared her journey and passion for exceptional floral design and service.

Q: How did you get into the flower business? I have been associated with the hospitality industry all of my life, starting in France and then Israel. It’s what I do and who I am. When my husband and I purchased this shop from my in-laws, I knew the store and the design work had to change, but I knew it all had to be rooted in courteous and caring service. In the 31 years that we have owned this business, we have been continuously evolving. You can’t get stuck in the clock. Dave’s was a very traditional flower shop, filled with leather fern, carnations, roses and baby’s breath. We have taken it 180 degrees, and now the shop serves our wonderful neighborhood community, and our design studio creates flowers for some of the most prestigious businesses and organizations in Hollywood, plus some of its most discerning individuals.

Q: Where does your business come from and who are your customers?
It’s my job to look after our clients and customers, more than 60 percent of who come from the corporate world. We do galas and donor events for some of L.A.’s biggest hospitals, museums and public institutions. Many of the same people go to these events, so each has to be different, distinguishable and amazingly beautiful. We do flowers for sets of movies and TV shows, which are always challenging as scripts change from day to day. We think we have a floral plan one day, only to be called at 4 a.m. the next with a new request for something totally different, to be installed by 7 a.m.!

The other 40 percent of our work is serving the needs of our individual customers. We have weekly accounts to bring flowers to homes of celebrities and others, which makes for busy Mondays or Fridays, if they are entertaining on the weekends. We do flowers for their family events; weddings, bat and bar mitzvahs, birthdays, baby showers, memorials and something as simple as weekly flowers for the Shabbat dinner table.

As well as the big stuff, we are the neighborhood florist where parents come with their kids and where we give each child a flower. It’s the place to pick up a prom corsage or a flower for a friend.

Q: What staff do you employ and what are their roles?
We are a small business with a regular staff of eight people. My husband and I are involved in every aspect of the business. We balance each other, having different but complementary skills and styles. We have a head designer, who is also our manager, plus three other designers. We have three front-of the-store staff and a driver. We manage our own finances and work with a web contractor, who has taught us how to update our website and post to social media. We have a tremendously talented, loyal and caring team. It’s a joy.

Anyone in a small business knows that there is much sharing of hats. Here, everyone does many things, and we all pitch in and do elements of each other’s jobs when it’s needed. When we do big events, we can swell up to 20 people, who we contract to assist us to meet exceptional demand.

Q: How has being in Hollywood influenced your design and business? It’s the center of the movie industry, built on glamour and celebrities who all want the best of the best. So that’s what we do. We listen, and then we deliver the best, all year round.

The movie business is always about fashion, and I see floral work like jewelry. Tiffany has been around forever, but it has always evolved to reflect the style of the times. It remains the classic best of the best, and that’s what we are doing with our floral design. Our style is a little restrained and very elegant. Our vases are simple so as not to deter from the flowers. Even if we have a grown-in-the-garden look, it is usually composed of shades of just three colors. I like to travel, and it used to be that American floral design was different from that in Europe. But today, we are not too far from what’s going on in Paris, which is wonderful.

CLAUDIA ROVNER, DAVE'S FLOWERS ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD

CLAUDIA ROVNER, DAVE'S FLOWERS ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD

Q: Where and how do you buy your flowers?
We are so lucky to live in California, where farmers are now growing almost every flower you might ever want. We love to support our farmers. We are all about quality, so if we can’t find a local flower we want in the quantity we need, then we go off to the L.A. Flower District or order roses directly from Ecuador, tulips from Chile, orchids from Thailand, peonies from Alaska, tropicals from Hawaii and all kinds of things from Israel. We have a staff member who is our buying expert and who buys from all over the world, with an eye, always, for top quality.

CLAUDIA ROVNER, DAVE'S FLOWERS ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD

Q: What’s the biggest challenge to your business?
Remaining in the public eye and growing our brand, which is now all about using social media. How can we consistently do this? We’re all working to remember to post and have trust that our web and social media person will steer and cheer us.

Q: How do you stay fresh and relevant?
You can’t beat a good night’s sleep! I work hard not to forget husband, my children and myself. I stay on top of things so that crisis is eliminated, and I look and plan two years into the future.

CLAUDIA ROVNER, DAVE'S FLOWERS ON HOLLYWOOD BLVD

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world to learn more about flowers or your business, where would you go?
I’d take a trip around the world. The world has to be the best university.

Q: What’s next for your business? A special client once said, “You can get steak at Morton’s and at Denny’s. Dave’s floral design is the Morton’s of flowers!” I’m going to keep being Morton’s as it’s taken us too long to get to where we are, and I’m not ready to retire or to compromise. I’m so proud of what we have achieved. I want to really know every client, give them the best in service and design and always, always with the utmost attention to detail.”