Welcome to Byrdie's new series, The Hustle. We're profiling diverse, interesting women and female-identifying folks in the beauty and wellness industries who are usually behind-the-scenes. From the cosmetic chemists formulating your holy-grail serum to CFOs driving the biggest beauty companies forward, these women are the definition of career goals, and they're getting real about the journeys that led them to where they are—the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
Itika Oldwine-Grimble is a force in the floral industry. The Los Angeles-based floral designer has worked with the biggest names in Hollywood (Oprah, Beyonce, Issa Rae, and Diddy, to name a few). She also owns a thriving floral boutique, OldVine Florals, in downtown L.A. However, Oldwine-Grimble's days aren't just spent crafting stunning custom arrangements.
Her deep-seated passion for all things floral inspired her to launch a fragrance brand—OldVine Fragrances—in 2021. By doing so, Oldwine-Grimble became the first Black female floral designer to create a bespoke fragrance line. Ahead, learn about Oldwine-Grimble's day-to-day as a floral designer and fragrance founder, being mentored by Oprah Winfrey, and the most significant entrepreneurial lessons she's learned.
When did your love for flowers begin?
My love for flowers began in 2014 when I worked under famed Los Angeles-based floral designer Eric Buterbaugh. Before then, I enjoyed flowers, but I was not a fanatic. I was introduced to different types of flowers and intricate floral designs. I also noticed how happy flowers make you feel once I started working in the business.
What inspired you to create OldVine Florals?
The inspiration to launch my floral company came while working under Eric Buterbaugh. After two amazing years at Eric Buterbaugh Design as the in-house florist for the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, I noticed I didn't see much diversity in the floral industry. There wasn't a diverse group of floral business owners, and the clients we served were not very diverse. My vision was to create a more inclusive floral business that also provided a luxury experience.
What does a typical day look like at your floral boutique?
I go through the daily orders every morning and then head to the flower mart to purchase anything I need. I have a few preferred vendors at the Southern California Flower Mart on Wall Street in downtown L.A. After I buy everything I need to fulfill the day's orders, I head back to the shop and start designing. Most days, we have 10-15 deliveries all around the greater Los Angeles area. And two or three days out of the week, we have event florals to create in addition to our delivery arrangements.
What's one thing about floral design that most people don't know?
Most people don't know where all of their flowers come from. In any arrangement, you can have a rose from Mexico, an orchid from Thailand, a stem of protea from Africa, and a tulip from California. It always fascinates me when I find out where the flowers I buy were flown in from.
What's been one of the proudest moments during your career as a floral designer?
I'm proud of the clients we have had the privilege of creating floral designs for since launching in 2017. Our clientele includes repeat customers who call us for every occasion, corporate clients (like Facebook, Netflix, Nike, and Amazon), and celebrity clients (such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z). The clients make the work we are doing at OldVine Florals so rewarding.
What has it been like building a bespoke fragrance brand?
My proudest moment as a business owner has been launching our luxury fragrance line, OldVine Fragrance. After more than three successful years in the floral business, my passion for problem-solving and eye for beauty took me to this next chapter. In 2021, we introduced our fragrances with a signature line that includes two candles, Bridal Bouquet ($72) and Find Your Zen ($72), and a fragrance called Meadow Bloom ($230).
What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is that I can step out on faith to be the creator of my destiny. The entrepreneurial experience is a rewarding journey if you can get past some of the initial bumps and setbacks.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Have confidence that people will rally behind you and your business to help it succeed. So much of what I have accomplished would not be possible without the support of my husband, close friends, and family. I shouldered a lot of the weight of the responsibilities for the business, but over time, I had to learn to depend on others and ask for help.
Have you had any mentors that have helped you throughout your career?
My most influential mentor is Oprah Winfrey. After receiving my Master's Degree in Social Science at the University of Chicago, I landed an internship at The Oprah Winfrey Show, the top-rated talk show in the country at the time. I worked at The Oprah Winfrey Show through its final season in 2011. My experience working there informed my entire career. I learned almost everything I know about operations and professionalism from the 10 years I worked under Oprah.
What has it been like juggling motherhood, marriage, and entrepreneurship?
I believe in work-life balance. I have maintained a work-life balance by intentionally carving out time apart from floral designing and managing my business to nurture my new role as a wife and mom. My husband and I maintain certain traditions at home, like eating meals together, while always being cognizant about prioritizing our personal needs.
Are there any upcoming launches we should look out for?
We are working on new scents and candles that will launch in the next couple of months, so be on the lookout.