Flower girls

Floral designer and teacher Ivie Joy

From Cagayan Valley to Hawaii, Ivie Joy Agustin’s family has always been into farming: rice in Tuguegarao and macadamia nuts in the Big Island.

As a floral designer in New York, she used her farming know-how and the diligence she learned from her plucky clan to run Celadon & Celery. Ivie Joy manages the Chelsea floral design shop with Bess Wyrick — two immigrant women raised in the ethos of hard work and uncomplaining diligence.

“My dad passed away when I was 9. My mom is still in Hawaii picking macadamia nuts today as we speak,” said Ivie Joy. “We have a macadamia farm; it’s run by my uncle. We supply macadamia nuts to Hawaiian Host. We all learned to pick nuts, me and my cousins. It’s required, it’s a family business. They didn’t care how hard we partied the night before as long as we’re in the farm by 6 a.m. the following day.”

Ivie Joy and Bess met at Jane Packer, a world renowned floral artist based in London. Ivie was the branch manager and school director at the New York office.

The two shared an instant and tremendous connection in all aspects of life including: flowers, creativity, inventing, dancing, giggling, travel, designing, the environment, eco-products and asymmetrical designs. It was inevitable they would be working together in their own floral business venture one day. About a year ago, the two reunited under Bess’ floral boutique Celadon & Celery.

As C&C’s school director, Ivie Joy continues to teach floral arrangement classes as she did at Jane Packer. Her students are mostly women in the financial and fashion industries. Not all floral shops run schools, but for high-priced floral salons like C&C and Jane Packer, they are part of the business, she said. “We started with three students, all interns, about a year ago. Now we have 2,000. It totally took off.”

C&C owner Bess

Celadon creations in red

Bess, a Mexican-Spanish immigrant, is C&C’s owner and creative director.

“When a client comes in, we both talk to the client, we conceptualize what’s in the proposal. Bess comes up with design suggestions, while I collaborate with cost analysis,” Ivie explained their dual responsibilities. “We’re both hands-on.”

C&C has handled floral arrangements for many top-tier restaurants, homes and offices. It was involved in producing events for celebrities like Perez Hilton, Iman, Katy Perry and Graydon Carter, and even did interior designs for large offices and homes. Ivie Joy and Bess Wyrick have a keen eye for fabrics.

Filipinos are a natural with design, said Ivie joy. “We are artistic and resourceful. Growing up in Philippines gives us the advantage to use what’s at hand and make it a brilliant piece.”

She described C&C’s style concept as urban chic with touches of the tropical and the old world influenced by her Filipino-Hawaiian upbringing and Bess’ Mexican origins.

“Ours is not the normal New York City look. We make use of a lot of cactus, coming from Bess’ background growing up in Sta. Fe,” she said.

As the women owe their success to the hardships of their families, they wish to remain connected to their immigrant communities. Ivie Joy, who speaks six Philippine languages including the Itawes dialect of the Ibanag, said she is planning to organize a yearly event where FilAm children and their mothers and ‘titas’ (aunts) attend a session learning about flowers, planting and gardening.

“Relationship with the community is so important to us,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s not all about the money.” – Cristina DC Pastor


  1. Kalea wrote:

    Cheers to hardworking immigrant businesswomen.

  2. Glenn wrote:

    I liked this article.

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