The Schneider family has been an integral part of the Carpinteria community for many years. Their family business, PacWest Blooms, provides event coordination services for weddings including floral arrangements. In the past few months, they’ve pivoted their business model to organizing pop-up markets for local makers and expanding their retail store offerings at Dirt Botanicals.
While she was developing PacWest Blooms, Suzie Schneider created Dirt Botanicals, her soul project and Carpinteria’s only brick-and-mortar floral shop. Dirt offers a retail space for houseplants, succulent arrangements and workshops, and as the name suggests, you are supposed to get your hands dirty. When the pandemic hit last year, events fell off the calendar, allowing the Schneiders to put more energy into pushing Dirt as a retail space.
Brian Schneider, Suzie Schneider’s son, has always been involved in the family business, but it wasn’t until this past September that Brian decided to leave his job at Events By Rincon and partner with his mother in establishing Dirt Botanicals as its own thriving business. In the past six months, he has managed Dirt’s day-to-day operations.
“I always enjoyed what my mom does and how plants and flowers bring joy to people,” said Brian. “It’s always been the human aspect of the business that hooked me. The more I worked with plants, the more I realized how much I cared about them. Plants are living organisms and you develop a relationship with each individual plant. You grow from caring for other living beings and you learn which plants work well together and it’s all connected.”
Brian has always had a love for plants, flowers and botanicals. “Cut flowers have been in my life for as long as I can remember,” he said. “Before my mom started PacWest, she was working with floral growers so I would see (flowers) packaged at the greenhouse. Or, I would spend time with my family at our grandmother’s garden. My grandmother has always grown these beautiful flower beds or vegetables, so gardening was a huge influence on me growing up.”
It’s all in the family at Dirt Botanicals. Suzie is the owner and main designer. Brian’s grandmother, Barbara, is the “plant encyclopedia.” Brian’s aunt helps with designs and workshops, drawing from her experience working for a local florist, and Brian’s dad handles the company’s accounting. During the busy season, even Brian’s cousins and sisters will help and his brother often bartends at makers events. “We work well together and we can bounce ideas off each other. It’s a whole family affair,” Brian said.
The Schneider family works well together because they recognize the importance of building each other up and supporting one another. “It’s been really great to see the people I love and look up to in this professional light – as capable individuals – and being able to contribute to their accomplishments,” Brian said. “The work is rewarding to me, as well as knowing that my hard work is supporting my family.”
Brian approaches his work from a value-based rather than goal-oriented perspective, emphasizing the importance of love and intention. “People call in with great stories about the person they are buying a gift for and I want to convey that love and appreciation (in the gifts we create),” he said.
This year, amid the pandemic, the Schneiders have expanded their pop-up makers markets which they host regularly. “For both Dirt Botanicals and PacWest Blooms, who we are is the community,” Brian said. “We consider ourselves makers and we want to uplift those around us and our community. So many people have lost opportunities recently. We want to give them a space and help to revive people’s livelihoods.”
Without community support, Brian said his family wouldn’t be where they are today. “We are Carpinteria born and raised with such a deep appreciation and love for what it means to be a Carpinterian,” he said. “Anyone can open a floral shop, but we want to be the community floral shop – one that makes a contribution to the community.”