San Francisco has many flower shops, but the newest edition – Ampersand in the Mission – tops it all with charm and cuteness. Owned by the sweet couple, Benjamin & Emerson, {who just got engaged!} Ampersand is quickly becoming SF’s favorite when it comes to beautiful, locally sourced flowers. The couple creates stunning floral arrangements for weddings, parties or just for your mom. Everyone is welcome to stop by, smell the flowers, say hello, get a cup of tea, make flower bouquets on your own and just relax in this airy, bright space. Perfect for a date with your bestie.

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Calling Mission home for a while now, the couple not only wants to sell flowers but to create a space where neighbors and friends come together, chit-chat and connect in real. And they are doing a great job with this. While I had the pleasure to spent few hours with them, the shop was visited by so many just to see how the new business is doing and to get themselves something pretty. The space really calls for spending time in it. With lots of sweat, tears and buckets full of white paint Benjamin & Emerson transformed an old garage into a charming, vintage-y spot.
They were also so sweet to give me an interview, so read on friends and next time you need beautiful flowers – at Ampersand you will find them.

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You guys opened your cozy flower shop just recently in the Mission. Tell us a little bit about your background? What led you to open a flowershop?

Benjamin is originally from Ohio, and his dad is an electrician with an eye for design. Ben owned his own business a few years back, but has since been working at various animal hospitals & in customer care– none of which was too fulfilling.

I grew up in the rural woods of So-Cal & was raised in a very creative family. I studied poetry & theatre criticism in college and jumped from various artistic ventures, all while working various office jobs– also none of which were at all fulfilling.

We have been together for two years or so, are recently engaged as of this past June (!), & we really needed radical change in our vocation. We recklessly and passionately turned to flowers. Floral design is a way to live creatively, submerge ourselves into nature, & build community in our neighborhood. Every hood needs a cute flower shop around the corner! We also needed a work space in order to fulfill larger orders such as weddings and events.
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Describe us the idea of your store? What is so unique about it?
Our shop is centered around people & nature in harmony, a little place in the City you can find refuge, an urban oasis of sorts. Our hope is that the space becomes a community hub, which it is steadily becoming! The way the barn doors open up lends itself for invitation, there is no barrier between outside & in.

We attempt to build the shop by offering high design quality at an accessible price point. We think flowers should be transformed from a luxury item to an everyday pleasure. All of our flowers are priced out by the stem, so even if you only have $1, you can get some stem of loveliness.

Ampersand is also transforming itself into a creative space since we highly encourage our customers to get their hands into the bunches of flowers & build a bouquet of their liking! It’s been really lovely watching people light up with the opportunity to show off their inner floral designer.
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The flowers at Ampersand are California grown. Why is it so important for you to use local products?
This was a fairly easy decision for us in the realization of Ampersand. Flowers deserve the same attention as food sourcing. With all of the incredible abundance of California blooms, there is no reason to outsource and we love ours relationship with our growers

We are also really excited to find ourselves locked into the seasons of our environment. Again, this is the idea of creating a space where people are in harmony with nature.
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What do you keep in mind when sourcing the flowers?
We definitely are looking for interesting flora, anything that is unusual we are typically obsessed with. Working with various textures, colors, and size of the flowers allows for a lot of creative energy for us as designers. We also try to shy away from things are typically overused in our industry– the red rose & baby’s breath combination, for example, will probably never show up here. :)

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I’m bad, I cut my flowers with same scissors as I use for paper. Tell us, what should we have in our toolbox when it comes to flowers?
One thing we love about being florists is that there is always something to learn. I definitely don’t think we are scissor aficionados, but I would say as long as you use clean shears, you’re good to go. Perhaps a pair of Garden Shears dedicated to flowers or gardening will do, just be cautious of rusting–We’re open to suggestions too!

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Do you have any tips to keep cut flowers longer alive?
The best thing I can suggest is to change out the water everyday if possible, that way the water is super clean for the flowers! I recommend room temperature water as well.

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As every job, running own business has also pro and con. What do you love most about your job? What’s not so great?
A big adjustment for us as a couple has been working & living with one another everyday. We’re so excited for the challenges that exist in being both entrepreneur & fiancé for each other .

Benjamin is definitely super-duper at getting us connected with people, working out their needs for various orders and events– his people-person personality is really perfect for the shop. My passion is invested in the creative aspects, from buying exciting material to design. I’m also the lead social media guy– the digital community support is actually surprisingly refreshing!

It’s a lot of work to keep the shop at our high standard. Everything must be full of variety, clean, and well designed. We’re here pretty late every night closing up shop too, we haven’t gotten the closing procedures down to a quick format yet, but I’m sure we’ll get there.
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Have you any advice for somebody who would like to open own business?
1. Create a distinct plan for yourself well in advance; figure out the brand, the ethos, the pillars of things that you cannot compromise on and write it all down.

2. Be completely flexible– this will make the growing pains easier while in the startup process.
3. Believe in yourself! No one can understand your vision like yourself which can be very intimidating. If you have a good vision, it will be received.
4. Create something you will be proud of. This way when someone asks you the tough questions you can answer with confidence that you are doing something with integrity that alights with what you care about most.
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Owner’s dream?
I think in the future we would love to transform Ampersand into a nighttime event space as well. Daytime flower shop, nighttime poetry slam/cello concert/theatre space? We’ll keep you updated! :)

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Favorite flowers right now?
Strawflower. There babes have such a crazy papery texture and come in an array of colors to make any heart smile!

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Sunday 11am, where do you go for brunch?
The Pork Store on 16th Street in the Mission. It’s on the same block as our house and business– doesn’t get much better than that! Their coffee & mimosa deal is perfect for us.

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SF’s best kept secret?
Martuni’s– we’re not sure if this is a secret or not, but it is the cutest piano, dark, martini joint. Fun Fact: That’s where Ben & I had our first date :)

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Favorite picnic spot?
Baker Beach. We love the silence and deafening sound of the sea, it’s very rejuvenating.

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I hope you guys guys enjoyed the interview with Ampersand as I did and now go be friends with this lovely two on facebook  & instagram .

ampersand-flower-shop-san-francisco Thanks, Benjamin & Emerson for this great interview and sharing with us your story! 

10 Responses
  • Katie | lovely letters
    September 30, 2014

    This is beautiful! The photos, the story, the company. Headed here ASAP!

    xx Katie
    lovely letters

  • Kim Jensen
    October 1, 2014

    Ben and Emerson are the best! I go here almost every week to get a fresh bouquet for the house. Reasonable prices, beautiful flowers and wonderful people!

    • Ana Kamin
      October 4, 2014

      Everything is just darling there! :)

  • Camille
    October 3, 2014

    I haven’t been here yet! This place looks beautiful and I’ll definitely have to venture across the bridge to visit!

    • Ana Kamin
      October 4, 2014

      Yeah we should go there and make our own bouquets. :)

  • Taylor Rae
    October 14, 2014

    I met this wonderful pair a few weeks ago and absolutely adore them!

    • Ana Kamin
      October 30, 2014

      Me too! And it was so nice meeting you again. :)

  • Alanna
    October 16, 2014

    So in love with these photos (and those boys)!!

    • Ana Kamin
      October 30, 2014

      Thank you lady! They are really cute. We should go and get some flowers there for a photo shoot. :)