After graduating from Bridgewater College with a degree in art, Amanda Tutwiler got a job in a floral shop and started experimenting with the flowers in front of her. Her mother and grandmother loved flowers. She always remembers being surrounded by them and appreciating their beauty, but never imagined she would become a florist. To her surprise, when she started arranging, she created exceptional work. The self taught artist is now the owner of Sparrow’s Flowers, a name that stemmed from her love of birds.
Amanda’s business is especially unique in that she shares a storefront with The Lady Jane in downtown. Her friendship with owner Sara Christensen blossomed as she was one of Sara’s customers. “I walked into The Lady Jane and just knew I wanted to be friends with Sara,” she jokes. “But, I’m sure that is something many of Sara’s customers have thought. Sara and I tend to be each other’s best customers and our styles certainly complement each other well in the space”.
For the artist, creating an arrangement is a natural process. Amanda doesn’t plan or imagine the end product, but instead she approaches it with an overall vision that ends up coming to life. Her method is to go with flow and be surprised. She tries to explain her natural instinct of deciding whether or not an arrangement is cohesive and fluid, but it kept coming back to “you just know”. “When it feels natural and right, the bouquet is complete.” She appreciates the freedom to be organic in her work.
During the growing season, all of the flowers Amanda uses are grown locally without chemicals and delivered weekly. However, using fresh, seasonal flowers can sometimes be challenging. This sparked her interest in the growing trend of paper flowers, which she now offers in her store.
In addition to owning Sparrow’s Flowers, Amanda also works full-time at Friendly City Co-op. The flexibility the co-op gives her allows her to balance owning her own business while spending a lot of time downtown. “I take flowers to Heritage Bakery and Cafe weekly which is always a treat because I get some great food.” Another place she and Sara love to treat themselves to is Bella Gelato & Pastries as well as Bella Luna Woodfired Pizza. They don’t have to walk far from work to get some of their favorites!
Supporting local businesses is important to Amanda. So, its no surprise that she’s found ways to partner with her neighbors and help cross promote their products and services for Valentine’s Day. When you make a reservation for Heritage Bakery & Cafe’s three course Valentine’s Day Tea, you’ll receive a corsage from Sparrows Flowers at the event. The first five people to sign up for a Valentine’s Day photo shoot with The Pinwheel Collective will receive one of Amanda’s bouquets.
Sparrows Flowers is taking orders for Valentine’s Day all week long. Call or stop by their 117 S. Main Street location. When you pick up your order, you’ll also find baked goods from Heritage Bakery and cards from The Lady Jane to package with your gift.
Written by Emily Faraone, James Madison University student in the School of Media Arts and Design and Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance Promotions Intern09