San Francisco florist gives back by 'flower flashing' closed storefronts


<p>Photo: Courtesy of Ash + Oak</p>

Photo: Courtesy of Ash + Oak

New murals on boarded-up storefronts have become a common means of beautifying San Francisco neighborhoods during shelter-in-place.

Now, a Mission-based florist is upping the ante by covering the exteriors of closed businesses in flower arrangements.

With her business partner Ashley Mueller, Katie Riesman operates floral studio Ash + Oak out of her garage at Guerrero and Market streets. The studio largely handles weddings and events, but with the COVID-19 crisis, most have been postponed.

As she waits out a time where large gatherings can once again be held, Riesman has decided to give back by decorating local small businesses with flowers. She and Mueller have dubbed the practice "flower flashing."

On Friday, Riesman threaded the exterior gate of Love Story Yoga (473 Valencia St.) with dozens of fresh flowers, along with a sign that reads "flowers can't solve everything, but they're a great start."

The sign also encourages passersby to patronize Love Story's livestreamed classes.

"We recognized that our story of suffering wasn't unique," Reisman said. "[We] wanted to devise a campaign that would remind folks to support and remember the small businesses in their community."

Reisman decorated Love Story for free, using flowers she sourced from the SF Flower Mart after it reopened under shelter-in-place. Mueller, who lives in Nevada City, did the same to a local restaurant there.

"All labor and product are covered by us," Reisman said. "We are offering this because we know that everyone is now in a tighter spot, and we're just happy to have the opportunity to work."

More businesses will be getting the floral treatment soon, Riesman said. "We plan on continuing this campaign across the city as long as shelter-in-place stands."

She's hopeful that neighbors will leave the flowers be once they're installed, so "everyone can enjoy the beauty for as long as it lasts."

To help finance the project, the studio is selling floral arrangements for delivery anywhere between San Francisco and Nevada City. Bouquets are $85, and an arrangement for Mother's Day is $100.

Ash + Oak is also offering floral-arranging workshops via Zoom, with the option to have a kit of all the necessary components delivered.

"We used to do deliveries infrequently, but we want to keep ourselves working," Reisman said. "[And] bring some calm to folks on their daily outside walks."