Photo courtesy of Penelope Wilkins
Floral Envy is a brand that sells everything from earrings to self-defense sets, using resin and molds to preserve items of nature into creations. Penelope Wilkins ‘21 started their business, Floral Envy, in May of 2020, months after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Originally, I started messing around with making jewelry since I lost my job due to COVID,” Wilkins said. “My old job eliminated my position, meaning that I had no money to save for things like books for college, but I also didn’t have a way to donate to the causes that I really cared about.”
Wilkins’s Instagram for Floral Envy is full of colorful florals and nature, showing off their most recent items for sale.
“I’ve had a garden for about five years now, and that’s what inspires most of my jewelry,” Wilkins said. “I grow all of my own flowers, and I love preserving them into little pieces of art.”
Wilkins makes a variety of items, using materials like resin, flowers, charms, polymer clay pieces, and other supplies.
“I’ve made tons of different things, at the moment it’s mostly earrings,” Wilkins said. “In the past, I’ve made combs, paint palettes, paintings, trays, and then coming up is my favorite, resin blocks of preserved bouquets.”
Wilkins runs an Etsy shop and Instagram account where they sell their items. They also do custom orders, working with the customer to create something unique, such as personalized wedding earrings.
“I love working on custom orders and making something one of a kind for someone,” Wilkins said. “I’m a huge people person, so getting that interaction instead of selling regular pre-made items will always be the thing that I enjoy the most.”
Throughout the nine months that they have been running their business, Wilkins has expanded Floral Envy past Etsy and social media.
“I’ve done a few fairs and markets, and those have all been much more successful than I thought they would be,” Wilkins said. “Unfortunately with Covid, it’s been really hard to do a lot of them, so most of my business has to stay online. However, this summer I’ll have a booth at the Cedar Rapids Farmers market that I will share with my mom’s business, and I will do a few other fairs and shows throughout the year.”
In addition to local markets and fairs, Wilkins’ items and services are available at one of Iowa City’s local businesses.
“Right now, I’m working with Beno’s Flowers downtown to preserve client’s wedding bouquets,” Wilkins explained. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do ever since I started making things with resin, and I’m so happy with what we’ve done so far. I’m also currently working to sell my pressed flower and butterfly earrings at both Wilson’s Apple Orchard and White Rabbit downtown.”
While Wilkins’s business has been successfully branching out online and in the community, Wilkins explained that occasionally their young age has caused some challenges.
“I do get quite a bit of imposter syndrome, especially at in-person events,” Wilkins said. “People tend to think that I’m older than I actually am, so I often feel an added sense of pressure that I’m not good enough compared to the other artists around me.”
Wilkins began Floral Envy with an aim to give back to the community. Nine months later, they are still able to donate and support local causes.
“I always save any cash from local orders to go towards homelessness in Iowa City, and then I do a lot of mutual aid/crowdfunding requests. We were recently able to raise $100 to go towards rent for a woman of color to help her get back on her feet,” Wilkins said.
To find Floral Envy, check out their Instagram, @floralenvy, or find them on Etsy @FloralEnvyCo.