In many families, treasured heirlooms or businesses or trades are passed down from generation to generation. For Amy Gofton’s family, it’s floristry, and it’s been handed on for three generations.

“I remember the first time I broke the piggy bank was to walk down to my local florist and buy some stems for my Mom,” Gofton said. “My Mom was a gardener, and my grandma was a gardener.”

Though it was only a pastime for her mother and grandmother, Gofton watched as the women in her life nurtured flower beds of dahlias, thistle and cockscomb when she was growing up.

Now the hobby that preoccupied her childhood has bloomed into her full-time business, Studio Nectar, a floral design studio that opened its brick-and-mortar store last month on Bellevue Avenue.

Though the storefront is new, the business has been around since 2018. Originally starting out as a weekend pop-up stem bar, Studio Nectar had a section in Moss & More, a plant shop in Upper Montclair Plaza.

Prior to moving to its new location in Upper Montclair Plaza, Moss & More occupied the Bellevue Avenue location that now houses Studio Nectar.

“We still have a partnership where we have a beautiful wall of tightly curated selection of moss and work products,” Gofton said.

On the wooden shelves of the store, customers can shop for unusual ceramic vases from Moss & More while buying their flowers from Studio Nectar.

What sets Gofton’s flowers apart from your average bouquet at the local supermarket is the amount of work she puts into sourcing her flowers. She makes it a point to use local farms, which in turn give the customer a longer-lasting flower that might be rare in color or type.

“We bring in a lot of dahlia,” Gofton said. “We bring in little things – like these blue caps are really special – and strawflower, and then we bring in unusual seasonal foliage.”

She didn’t always envision a career in the business.

She worked in fashion for 22 years. Before taking on Studio Nectar full time, she was the vice president of design at Kate Spade.

“I always said to my Mom, it would be fashion or flowers,” Gofton said.

Now she has been able to pursue both.

In her spare time while she was at Kate Spade she would participate in flower workshops as a form of stress relief. Stepping away from a commercial company and the sketches that she was used to and becoming hands-on with petals, stems and leaves became a form of meditation for her, she said.

Though she loved her time at Kate Spade, Gofton realized the demands of the fashion industry weren’t allowing her to express her range of creativity and to live life. The needs of the fashion industry took her away from crucial time with family and her community.

It took her more than a year before she finally decided to leave her position at Kate Spade and start fresh. Now, she is thankful that Studio Nectar affords her the time to attend her kids’ sporting events and to get to know her neighbors in Montclair.

“I think you crave those things as you get older, like I think a lot of women hit their 40s and all of a sudden realize like it's OK to want those things,” she said. “I think we're told that ‘You can have it all but you can't have it all.’ Once you hit a certain point it's OK to be something else besides driving into a career, it's OK.”

Making the leap from a big-brand fashion company to a local florist shop was a scary transition for Gofton, but her eye for fashion is evident as she puts together the different colors and textures in a bouquet.

“I know just from experience that I need a certain amount of large flowers and a certain amount of smaller flowers,” she said. “I need a nest of greenery or texture to support those flowers.

“So I start with the colors of what I'm feeling the most. And then I fill in around with the supporting characters that I know I need to create shape and interest and depth.”

Though the process may sound intricate to some, employees like Lisa Guillird, who also worked in fashion before moving to floristry full time, guide customers in making their own bouquets at the bloom bar in the center of the store.

The bloom bar, where customers can make their own bouquets.
The bloom bar, where customers can make their own bouquets.

“There are scientific studies that say, you’ve got to get out in nature,” Gofton said. “It really feeds the soul. So this is a small way of bringing that outside world in and having that happiness in your home.”