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Petal Press Décor

Preserving Life’s Memories

Handmade in Acadiana

Flowers come to us at some of the most memorable times in our lives, congratulating us, declaring love to us, and consoling us. A growing desire to eternalize those very special bouquets has revived an art form dating back to ancient Egypt. Pressing flowers (flattening their petals and leaves for use as decoration) has come into blossom again thanks to flower enthusiasts like Arrie Broussard, designer and owner of Petal Press Décor in Lafayette. Broussard captures a moment and makes it a memory, pressing fresh flowers to create hand-made keepsakes and home décor.

Flower Girl

A former elementary teacher, Broussard stepped away from her profession a few years ago to pursue something more creative. It was also the same year she was getting married. On the day of her pre-wedding photos, she looked down at her bouquet of white roses, eucalyptus, and wax flowers and “wanted some way to keep her special flowers.” And then the answer came in a memory of picking flowers as a young child with her mother and pressing them. Her interest in pressing flowers was reignited and what started as a sideline to her position as marketing assistant for a Lafayette retailer, in 2017 became Petal Press Décor.

“I was looking at the business as an artist who paints original works for herself and sells them. I didn’t intend to do custom work, but it went that way right from the start,” says Broussard, who has the natural beauty and effervescence that you would expect from someone who presses flowers for a living.

Today most of her work is customized, with customers bringing fresh flowers from bridal bouquets and wedding events, baby showers and baptisms, to dance recitals and funerals.

The flowers are pressed and embedded in everything from invitations, wall hangings, obituary cards, laminated bookmarks, and Christmas ornaments to the tiniest of pressed flower rings and unique pendants, which Broussard says are popular Valentine’s gifts.

Late last year, Broussard collaborated with The Cajun Hatter, in Lafayette, creating a custom hat band of horizontal pendants inlaid with native wildflowers.

Her designs are whimsical, romantic, meaningful and always timeless and tasteful. As someone who once gave serious thought to becoming an interior designer, Broussard color coordinates and thoughtfully places each flower, petal, and stem with the sentiment intended for the piece.

Client Connections

“Every order is from a meaningful event, with a story behind it. Funeral flowers have sad stories for sure,” Broussard composes herself before recounting the death of a baby boy last year. “That... was....a...hard....one. The family provided a poem and decals of his original footprints, from the hospital.” In creating this priceless keepsake, Broussard had an artist recreate the infant’s footprints in the center of matted paper with the poem and surrounded by a secret garden-like feel of pressed flowers and greenery from the funeral.

Talking of another project that still affects her, Broussard shares a short note written by an elderly woman to her family before her passing. “She summed up her life so beautifully in a few lines with a special request of her children. What a keepsake to hold onto forever.” Broussard honored the beautiful spirit of a loving mother with a small burst of colorful pressed flowers placed above the handwritten note, on a small white- washed wooden plaque.

There are more happy than sad occasions that call for Broussard’s creative touch. Her wedding troupe includes shower and wedding invitations, keepsakes of the bride, groomsmen and bridesmaid flowers, and even flower girl crowns. To that she plans to add gifts for rehearsal dinners and reception greeting signs.

Clients from California to Florida and north to Philadelphia have found Petal Press Décor on social media or by word of mouth. For out-of-state brides, Broussard provides instructions on shipping fresh flowers overnight the Monday after the wedding or, if they prefer, guidelines on how to dry the keepsake blossoms. “I like advance notice, but I don’t require it – as most companies do,” Broussard points out.

The Business of Memories

Like many wedding vendors, Petal Press Décor is busiest September through December and March through May. Last month Broussard was three to four months out from completing orders, but points out, “Brides aren’t usually in a hurry after the wedding.”

In her studio, now on Fountain Bend Dr. in Lafayette, Broussard works Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The space is well-appointed and organized, with samples of her work throughout and a separate room where the pressing takes place. Calling attention to four large wooden presses, stacked atop one another, Broussard says, “One press can hold 10 different orders – hundreds of flowers. We have to change the paper between the petals often because they soak up moisture.” To aid in keeping the humidity level low, there is a dehumidifier, fans and heaters. The key is not only to press the flowers, but to preserve their colors.

What’s most amazing about her pressing process is that Broussard takes each flower apart to press them (removing the center petals from larger flowers like roses and peonies and keeping about three layers of petals for the look of a full flower.) After they’re dried, she perfectly reconstructs the blossoms.

“Such a labor of love, but to me totally worth it,” she assures.

Among her favorite flowers to work with are blue hydrangeas, delphiniums, peonies, natural greenery and her beloved spray roses. “They press very well and once they’ve opened, they look like a different flower, keeping their color very well,” she claims.

Depending on the flower types, the petals are pressed for three to six weeks, with presses checked every two days. “Opening the press that final day is my favorite part,” says Broussard. “It’s like Christmas morning. Every single flower has a mind of its own. After four years of pressing, I’m still surprised that I can press four of the same type of flower and each will turn a different color.”

Sometime this year, Broussard plans to offer a collection featuring beautiful flowers pressed between two panes of custom-made glass, creating a floating effect, and finished with a handmade frame. As she talks about upcoming projects, she smiles and says, “It’s really nice to love your job. I truly, truly love what I do.”