Last April, in a back room at Threes Brewing in Gowanus, there were tables bursting with fresh flowers, a colony of smiling women, and flights of locally brewed beer. It looked like future Earth as it’s depicted on Star Trek: The Next Generation–healthy young people, surrounded by flora, fraternizing, and drinking.
One of those women was Suzanna Cameron, the 25-year-old owner of Stems in Ditmas Park. She was leading a flower crown making class, “Brews, Blossoms, Babes,” and her students (including one thrilled male), looked contented. Music played, wreaths were being pinned into flowing locks, and citrusy pilsners, guzzled.
For most people, reality does not look like this. For Cameron, this is every day life. Not only does she teach regular flower crown classes (including one this Sunday, August 16 at Stems), her shop is attached to Sycamore—another bar. In Cameron’s world, flowers and booze exist as one. Or rather, together they are greater than the sum of their parts. The fee for each of her classes (including flower arranging and centerpiece making) covers the cost of two drinks.
“We try to keep booze around because we’re really into it and people are looser when they’ve had a drink in them, and more creative,” said Cameron.
Cameron fell into flower-shop-owning by happenstance. When she moved to Ditmas Park a few years ago, Sycamore was her local hangout. The flower shop was there, but one of the owners who knew flowers best was moving to Michigan and wanted to rent out the space. Cameron was a trained dental technician and also did TV and movie production. For fun, she worked part time at the flower shop. When the owner announced the move, Cameron jumped–blindly–at the opportunity. She had no background in business nor, until then, in flowers. But her enthusiasm was real.
“I felt like I had this vision of creating a mini flower school,” said Cameron. What she did not want to do was get into weddings, and the stress that surrounds that harried scene. But, of course, she has—and it’s ok. Her niche, Brooklyn brides, is laid back. More recently she found herself next to Jessica Alba, of Zico coconut water fame, on the roof of the Hudson Hotel for a branded event involving flowers. And last November, she took her teaching skills to Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There, her projects are a little more advanced. “That does not involve alcohol,” said Cameron.
After talking to Cameron, it’s hard to remember why the combination of flowers and booze is novel. It just feels right.
“I’ve always loved the way the ends of stems look at the bottom of a vase, how they look like feet,” said Cameron about the name of her shop. “It’s kind of sexy and saucy at the same.”
Don’t fret. If you can’t see it yet, a drink should help.
Stems: 1118 Cortelyou Road, Ditmas Park