Valeria Rosich has always loved flowers — especially bougainvillea, a tropical plant her mom grew in her home of Caracas, Venezuela. She loved bougainvillea so much, she said she used them to make her first piece of jewelry at age 19.
What started as a pair of bougainvillea earrings eventually blossomed into a collection of botanical jewelry she now sells through her business, Flores De Miel.
With Flores De Miel, the 24-year-old botanical artist sells wearable art, such as rings, necklaces and earrings. The name of the business — meaning “honey flowers” in Spanish — comes from the honey-like scent of bougainvillea, she said.
The “flores” in Flores De Miel come in with Rosich’s designs, which incorporate real flora, like flowers, leaves, seeds and fruit. Some of her creations include necklaces with pressed flower pendants and preserved fruit earrings.
Rosich’s journey to launching Flores De Miel in 2019 began when she and her family left Venezuela in 2016 to seek a safer life in the U.S.
“Being removed from everything,” she said. “I really had to put all my effort into finding … what would make me feel at home.”
Even though she left her home, she brought something that would eventually help her discover her new sanctuary: a collection of pressed flowers.
As a teen, Rosich said she often pressed the flowers she picked outside using a book. She would place a flower into the book and close it, she said, and then open the book several days later to see the now-dried flower in its preserved state.
Rosich found comfort in seeing how time had passed, she said, yet the flower maintained its integrity. Multiple experiments with pressing flowers eventually created her collection, which she still holds onto now.
“Flowers have always been a really special way to keep memories alive,” she said.
Eager to relive the comfort she felt when pressing flowers in Venezuela, she had finally found her sanctuary when she started working at Swallowtail Farm, a community-supported farm in Gainesville, in 2018.
“Everything felt so beautiful and inspiring and safe,” she said.
In her time at the farm, she said, she learned about different preservation techniques she now uses when crafting her jewelry.
Rosich also discovered that much love and effort goes into tending a farm’s plants and animals, she said. After working there, she said, she felt more love for nature than ever.
She hopes to encourage people to cultivate a similar love for nature through fashion, she said.
While learning to create jewelry, Rosich said, she became conscious of how people in early civilizations and people of some indigenous cultures created jewelry using the environment around them as their tools, like using seeds as beads.
“I see them as the people who were in constant relationship with nature,” she said, “which is basically what I am seeking and what I feel like the world could use more of.”
Hands-on experiences Rosich had, like creating jewelry with real plants or working on a farm, aren’t common for most people, which may deprive them of a connection to nature, she said.
Exposing people to nature through wearable art may remedy that disconnect, she said.
Rosich found success with her jewelry brand, making over 1,000 sales and featuring her creations at local pop-up markets and at the downtown venue and clothing store How Bazar.
Laila Fakhoury, the co-founder of How Bazar and the record label Dion Dia, said Rosich stood out not only for her work but for her passion for sustainability.
The Flores De Miel founder uses high-quality gold plated chains to make her jewelry more durable and long lasting, Fakhoury, 25, said. Even though it costs more to use these kinds of materials, she said, Rosich cares more for the life span of her jewelry than the costs of making it.
Besides finding success, Rosich also found friendship while rediscovering her love for nature.
Fakhoury and Rosich met over a year ago when Rosich asked Fakhoury if she could be a vendor at a How Bazar outdoor market, Fakhoury said, and they’ve been friends since then. Rosich often gifts Fakhoury with her jewelry, Fakhoury said. She wears it every day.
“She’s one of those friends that just always builds you up with affirmation and doing acts of service,” Fakhoury said.
While working at Swallowtail Farm, Rosich met her housemate, Meg Boria-Meyer. Boria-Meyer, 28, is the founder of the Gainesville Giving Garden, a farm dedicated to providing the community with equitable access to organic food.
The two bonded over their spiritual connection to nature, Boria-Meyer said. Like how Rosich used fashion as an outlet to get closer to the environment and get others to connect to it, she used food to do the same.
“[Rosich’s work is] just such a beautiful fruit that Gainesville gets to enjoy and grow from and be nourished by,” Boria-Meyer said.
She was proud to see how much her housemate’s business had grown, she said, and she even occasionally sees strangers wearing Rosich’s jewelry when walking around town.
Rosich is starting to share something new in her Flores De Miel collections — body jewelry.
“The bigger the project,” Rosich said in her online portfolio, “the higher the chance to strike on the importance of intention and meaning when choosing the materials by which we access beauty.”
She’s displayed some of her body jewelry at local markets and on her online shop. She’ll also showcase these creations at Dion Dia’s music festival, The Big Sho’, April 15.
“She’s definitely destined to continue growing this [business] in a way that not only will benefit Gainesville,” Boria-Meyer said, “but people from all over the world.”
Contact Zarin Ismail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @zarintismail.
Zarin Ismail is a second-year journalism major and a staff writer for the Avenue. She has previously worked as a copy editor for The Alligator. She's also a writer for Strike Magazine. When she’s not writing, Zarin watches international TV shows, shops at thrift stores and plays with her two cats.