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With theaters closed through 2020, Broadway actor and former New York City Ballet principal dancer Robbie Fairchild has been keeping busy with his beloved rooftop dance series on Instagram. But he's also finding a new way to spread joy. Fairchild recently launched a floral business, boo.kay, offering custom arrangements and hand delivering them throughout the city. He spoke to T&C about his new venture, his favorite flowers, and how he stays hopeful.
How did you get into flower arranging?
I always loved flowers, and as a performer, you get bouquets and then you bring them home, and I wouldn't really know what to do with them. They looked pretty, but they would die. Back in 2017, I did An American in Paris in London and my flat was right around the corner from The Covent Garden Academy of Flowers. I enrolled in a class on a day off and I was like, "damn, this is therapy." It was incredible.
I kept it up as something fun on the side, I would go to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, something low scale, and buy those flowers. After I did CATS last year, a woman messaged me on Instagram and said, "I've been trying to get my daughter to dance for years. And she saw you in CATS and now she's obsessed." She worked for a flower company based in Holland and sent me some flowers as a thank you. Seeing the difference between Trader Joe's flowers and those from a Holland Farm was a massive difference. I was blown away.
What made you decide to pursue this full time?
When the health crisis was happening in New York City, I was delivering bouquets at 7pm to Mount Sinai West workers. It just gave me that feeling that I don’t get as a performer anymore on stage, to be creative and make something for somebody, to see the face of the person I gave it to and their reaction.
I thought, this is what I want to pursue, at least as a side hustle while the theaters aren't working. I contacted that woman who reached out to me on Instagram, sat down with her and her business partner, and we laid out the plan.
Flowers provoke such an instant response. Why do we love them so much?
You give flowers as a token of affection or gesture of love. I think the most wonderful gifts are nature—like diamonds, for millions of years these particles have been under pressure, and that's what we consider to be one of the most beautiful things on Earth. My motto is "connecting people through mother nature."
What services does boo.kay offer?
I'm doing medium arrangements for $150, though some clients are asking for higher ones at $250. I'll take requests for certain color palettes or occasions, like for a birthday. I deliver anywhere in Manhattan, sometimes by subway, by foot, or if my sister lends me her car. It's pretty grassroots right now. I've set up an arranging table in my bedroom and just keep the AC blasting to keep the flowers cool.
What blooms are popular right now?
The peonies are really popping! One of the arrangements I did the other day was cymbidiums from New Zealand, peonies from Alaska, hydrangeas and roses from Holland. And at a time where we can't travel, having these natural things from so many different places feels like giving people a wonderful gift.
So, what it your favorite flower?
There is a rose called the Ingenious Mr. Fairchild. It's a British Rose, a David Austin Rose. It's like a cross between a peony and a rose. For my dad's 65th birthday, I bought him an Ingenious Mr. Fairchild rosebush and it's doing really well! You can imagine it being really tight and then the next day you just see this whole drama furling. That's what I love, I love when it tells a story. You think you know what it's going to look like, and then the next day you wake up and the flower opens like "boom!"
Where do you hope to take boo.kay?
I'm about to launch what I call "unboxing," where you get a recipe of flowers sent to you and I'll do a video so you can follow along and learn to arrange yourself.
My dream for this is to grow it to a point where I could employ Broadway performers who don't have an outlet to perform and don't have an option for income right now. If we can figure out a way to stay creative and do an act of service, because with performing there's such a high reward, and you train for the audience enjoyment.
Visit boo.kay on Instagram to place your order.
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