Kirk Wilder, founder of Acme Floral Co., describes flowers with the same admiration a chef has for food.
Flowers are ephemeral, blooming in glorious colors and shapes that change with the seasons, he says. The best arrangements are crafted around the harvest—not necessarily the aesthetics people traditionally crave.
Alongside unique seasonal finds, flowers that have fallen out of fashion in recent years—like carnations and mums—make regular appearances in his arrangements. “I love breaking the rules of American floristry,” he says.
After years in the flower and event planning business, Wilder branched out on his own with Acme Floral Co. earlier this year. He operates the business out of his Lower Haight home.
"I’ve been in this flat for 18 years and very much feel a part of the Lower Haight. I love living [here] and have always felt like I fit in," he says. "I love the mix of folks, I love the edge, I love the location in the city where I can walk in any direction and be in a different neighborhood in 20 minutes. The Lower Haight has changed but, relative to the rest of the city, it still has some flavor."
In his new venture, Wilder aims to employ underserved groups, like queer youth and people re-entering the workforce after being released from prison.
“The moniker is 'social business,'" he explains. It’s about “teaching people that might need job training, and sharing the profits.”
Acme Floral is as much about interior design as it is about flowers themselves. Many of Wilder's clients are interested in using plants and flowers to make a building's lobby more welcoming, or dressing up their homes with intricate wreaths and garlands for the holidays. He regularly works with businesses and individuals to add color and personality to public and private spaces.
Wilder's company also handles corporate gifting and employee appreciation, working with businesses to choose colors and designs that fit their company's culture and branding. He can even build custom websites that feature select celebratory and condolence arrangements, based on the company’s preferences; employees can then place orders online as needed.
And then there are events: weddings, birthdays, dinner parties. “Events come really easy to me—I’m one of those people that gets more mellow as events get crazy," he says, laughing.
Though his business is less than a year old, Wilder, a self-described “futurist,” is already planning for a future retail space that he imagines as “the lovechild of the SFMOMA gift shop and a flower shop.”
"The hardest part of starting a new business is learning to trust myself with my talents and gifts and how to ask for help," he says. "I’m a big fan of going slowly and working through a list of tasks to accomplish a long-term goal."
In the meantime, he's enjoying working out of his home. "I can work whenever I like, and it's perfect for having clients over to talk about their events or weddings."
To purchase arrangements, plants and event decor, visit Acme Floral Co.'s website.