Photo Credits: Alana Salisbury, Karen Cal, Patti Foley
Nestled on the second floor of the Alton Mill you’ll find the studio of Karen Cal. The restored and converted textile mill hugs the banks of Shaw’s Creek in the northwest reaches of Caledon and it is the perfect backdrop to watch Karen as she crafts her stunning floral art.
Originally from Toronto, Karen and her husband had initially moved to Brampton, and it wasn’t long before the couple recognized that what they truly wanted was a little more land around them.
“So in 2002 we bought an old Pan Abode log home in the Inglewood area” explains Karen. “We had to do a lot of renovating and it was that home that later inspired the name of my business Cedar and Stone.”
“I love rustic, natural pieces” says Karen “very textured, organic arrangements. So the name Cedar and Stone also fit with the look that I wanted to design.” With 2 young children Karen wanted to work from home. “I was a creative person to begin with” she admits “and I love gardening. So I was working for a floral wholesaler at the time. Soon I began to learn things from floral designers as well. My own floral business sort of evolved.”
Self-taught, creative and passionate about floral design meant Karen’s business steadily grew. Eventually the children were old enough that Karen decided it was time to be out of the house. “Three years ago I found my first spot at the Alton Mill and I have been at the Mill ever since.”
Karen’s primary focus is weddings and events, and she does about 50 a year. “I am so fortunate. Here in Caledon we have so many amazing and historic locations. I have done weddings in old barns, at the Alton Mil, at the Millcroft Inn, at Cambium Farms, and private estate weddings. It is very cool. I have been able to work in some really incredible places in addition to event halls.”
“Do people come to you knowing exactly what they want?” I ask.
“Some people do have a very clear vision” she responds. “They are focused on a certain colour theme or an overall look, such as a romantic look or a rustic look. Sometimes they may want something really outside the box, like a fairy tale theme. Other people are looking for more guidance. They don’t know what they want but they know what they don’t. So it becomes a process of helping them pull their thoughts and details forward.”
Karen makes a point of networking, going out to visit local event venues as well as to other wedding-related vendors. She understands that good business involves building relationships.
The enthusiastic florist has worked on a wide range of events, from intimate dinner party style weddings, to corporate meetings and events, to large weddings of 300-400 people. Some of her favourites include those where her clients incorporated personal items and collections into their special day.
“I remember a bride that had collected vintage sports trophies and we used those as vessels for the flowers. Another used a collection of grandma’s tea cups and saucers. This month I am working on a wedding where the bride’s mom is bringing in a piece of fabric from her own wedding gown as well as a piece from her mother’s to tuck into the bride’s bouquet.” she smiles.
“I learn from every experience” says Karen. “I learn about other people’s culture. I learn every couple’s story. And that is fascinating, learning about 2 people and what brought them together.”
Karen feels strongly that Caledon has a lot to offer in terms of scenery, unique locations and local talent that can work together as a team to create an exceptional day.
If you would like to learn more about Karen Cal and Cedar and Stone you can visit CedarAndStone.ca or contact her at the Alton Mill Arts Centre karen@CedarAndStone.ca 416-938-7447