By W. Derek Russell
For Laura Albright and her daughter, Anna McCollum, memories last even when flowers don’t.
The Alcorn County duo has found great success since launching Elizabeth Spencer Designs, offering creative floral arrangements, art and decor for all sorts of occasions.
“I’m a nurse by trade,” Albright, 54, said. “I didn’t go to school to learn how to do anything artsy. I was always a nurse in an artist’s body. I’ve always been an artist, I guess. Just born that way. I love to paint and draw and I’ve always loved calligraphy. I started really professionally working with flowers back in the late ’90s and I did a lot of weddings and parties. I’ve gotten back into doing this full time.”
Coming back into the fold wasn’t difficult with her daughter by her side. McCollum, 24, was finishing up an internship with a magazine in Charleston, South Carolina, when her parents offered her and her fiancé a “sweet deal.”
“They wanted us to follow our creative ventures,” McCollum said. “Mom calls it running down a creative rabbit hole. I returned to my hometown after almost seven years of being away. There’s a demand here for what we are doing, and it’s something we get to do, creatively, together.”
When it came time to name the venture, Mom and daughter didn’t have to go far to decide. Elizabeth is McCollum’s middle name, while Spencer is Albright’s.
“‘Designs’ leaves it open-ended for us to explore other avenues,” McCollum said.
But their bread and butter are flowers and art, something they do well together.
“We like to go forage,” McCollum said. “Well, we call it foraging. We like to supplement with things we have here.”
“Whatever green we can get out in the yard really tones down an arrangement and makes it less predictable,” Albright added. “You’ll never know what you’ll find.”
With business picking up, the pair decided it was time to have a loft studio to work out of in downtown Corinth, with workshops and classes available to the public.
“There’s a lot of need for things like this to do in Corinth,” McCollum said. “Workshops are very popular. It’s a social thing while you are also learning a skill. Plus you get to take something home with you.”
“It will be great to bring clients in to meet with them in a space of our own,” Albright added. “We’re very excited about it.”
Workshops and clients aren’t great for the home base, but arranging is often done on-site with large arrangements not fit for transport.
“We’ll work on arrangements separately and it’s really fun to look at them at the end to see how they’re similar and how they’re different,” McCollum said. “We think a whole lot alike so usually it all ends up working really well together. There’s a picture of me as a very little girl arranging flowers with her. It was sort of natural for me to jump in.”
On the art side of things, a new creation that’s gaining a lot of traction is paintings of bouquets the pair have created together.
“It’s been a fun collaboration because I’ll make the bouquet and then Anna paints it,” Albright said.
With keepsake paintings of the bridal bouquets – or whatever the occasion – McCollum said it’s a forever memory.
“The flowers will die but they’ll always have that,” she said.
Albright said working with her daughter never feels like work at all.
“I am so happy when I’m arranging flowers,” she said. “Anna and I say it’s a bit like fixing curly hair, it’s different every day. It’s very peaceful and creative. Doing it with my precious child makes it even better.”
For McCollum, the outdoors call to her, so getting to do something that’s never the same twice in that element is worthwhile to her.
“It’s instant gratification. This is my way to connect with nature,” she said. “Everything we do is different. Every wedding is different. Every bride is different. And even if we use the same flowers every time, it’s endless possibilities on what we can do with them. That’s really fun to me. I’m a perfectionist but I’ve had to learn to just go with it. Flowers have a mind of their own. It can sometimes be very labor intensive, but it’s always fun and creative.”
For more information, visit elizabethspencerdesigns.com or @ElizabethSpencerDesigns on Facebook and Instagram.