Step away from the wicker cornucopia. Now, your Thanksgiving centerpiece can look beautiful, do some good at the same time!
The Bouqs Co. has teamed up with celebrity floral designer Maurice Harris of Bloom and Plume (known to many as the man behind the flora in Beyonce's visual album Black Is King), PEOPLE can exclusively reveal. Together, they've created "United with Flowers" a new range of three bouquets that bring Harris's exuberant, colorful creations to the masses.
Better yet, 100 percent of the proceeds from the arrangements will go to Campaign Zero, a nonprofit committed to combatting police brutality.
The new collaboration came to life thanks to The Bouqs Co.'s lead floral designer Kaylyn Hewitt, who was looking for a way to spotlight Black creatives in a field where they are often underrepresented.
"We had a lot of very transparent and vulnerable conversations back in June within the company, just after the George Floyd killing," she tells PEOPLE. "That was the catalyst to thinking through not only our vendors, but just the Black experience in the floral industry." The company had decided to make a donation earlier in the summer, but, Hewitt explains, "We knew that we didn't want to have just a short-term impact."
Instead, she says, they wanted to do "something that would be really beautiful, that would bring joy, and celebrate Black joy in tandem with flowers — and then also, have a tangible impact, and help create actual change."
She called up Harris, who despite recently receiving a surge in attention thanks to Queen Bey's blessing, has been making a name for himself doing high-end, bespoke floral design for celebrity clients and fashion houses for 10 years. He's also the star of Centerpiece on Quibi, in which he interviews other Black creatives, and soon, HBO Max's floral design competition show, Full Bloom.
Harris, for his part, was hesitant at first to try to translate his one-of-a-kind creations, which easily go for four times the price of a standard bouquet from the online retailer.
"I was actually low-key dreading it," he says with a laugh. "But then we got into it and we were having so much fun. I was just like, 'Should I make another one? Should I make another one? Do you need another one?' And where I thought I was going to end up making one or two arrangements, we ended up making six." Three of those are available now, and three more will launch in 2021.
The bouquets, which are each available in three sizes and start at $69, all exhibit Harris's love for color. "So many people just go neutral because it's the safest, it's the easiest. So I try to lean into my color," he says. "I know how to use color, I am color, I am colorful."
The arrangements incorporate everything from classic yellow garden roses and delphiniums to heliconia and sculptural loofa.
Both Hewitt and Harris are passionate about bringing their experiences as Black florists and the challenges they faced to the fore as well.
"Anything I do is inherently Black because my hands are Black. It's a part of my cultural experience, it's a part of who I am," says Harris, who first became interested in flowers "because I saw my grandmother make church lady hats," but only pursued his passion after being laid off from a corporate job in 2008. "I didn't have capital, venture capital, mama capital, any kind of capital, to start my business. I just hustled my way to doing anything that I do."
Now, he explains, "a huge motivation for me is to create avenues and paths for other people."
Hewitt, who owned her own floral design studio before joining The Bouqs Co., constantly encountered a trying scenario. "Every single weekend, especially if [I was working with] a new venue or a new vendor, and they didn't know who I was already, they would assume that one of my assistants was the owner. The white one. They would always go to them first thinking that they were the owner," she recalls.
Still, both are determined to bring people together — and affect meaningful change — through their work.
"What I think is really important about this project is, it's about looking at opportunity and equality. It's not about exclusion, it's lifting voices that don't often get to be heard or seen," says Harris.
Adds Hewitt, "There's joy and beauty in flowers, and in sharing flowers with people. But there's also the reality of why we're doing this, too. And the reality is that there's not a lot of joy in the Black experience. And so it's a layered project that I'm really proud of and excited for."
Shop the United with Flowers collection on bouqs.com now through April 2021.
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