Long before I met Emily Murphey of Emily Murphey Designs, or even knew who she was, I was was smitten by her interior design work. I remember the first time I dined at two of Emily’s projects, Maria’s Cantina and Morgan’s On Main, and being more excited by the interiors than anything else. I vividly remember trying to soak in all the details. It’s not an exaggeration when I say I look at every detail when I go to a restaurant. I take note of everything from the floor to the ceiling, the light fixture’s style and bulb type, and how the overall atmosphere compliments the meal. I look at the entire package, and for me, Emily’s work is perfection. And this was all before I met her!
When I finally met Emily she delivered a custom made lemonade stand and chalkboard signs for Stroll Though History guests to purchase refreshments. She and her husband created an adorable stand which was a huge hit and solidified my true admiration for Emily’s style and talent. Since that first meeting, I’ve been lucky enough to watch Emily work her magic in person (here and here) and follow her work on her Facebook and Instagram pages.
Emily and I met to talk about how she started her business, the best advice she ever received, and her favorite part of her job. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Emily, because as I said, I’m a big fan.
Here’s my conversation with Emily Murphey.
Introduce yourself and your business.
My name is Emily Murphey and my business is Emily Murphey Designs, DBA Up Down Designs. I offer wedding florals and wedding styling. My focus right now is building up my inventory so I can create a menu of decor and flowers to create the custom look so many brides are looking for. I focus on the tabletop, runners, arrangements, and I also create custom chalkboard signage.
When did you first think about opening your own business?
I started my business when I lived in Oakland and was attending Berkeley Extension School of Interior Design. I started the business to provide event and decor assistance to friends and family.
So, you’re living in Oakland and going to school, why start this business?
I was waitressing and I needed extra money! Plus I really wanted to use my creative skills, which wasn’t happening as a waitress. I designed a postcard highlighting my services and went through my Mom and Dad’s address book. Then I sent the postcard to around 100 people. I was offering everything from accessorizing to baking cakes, to making party favors, and event planning. This was about six years ago.
What was the first job you received from the postcards you sent out?
I was hired by Jeff Morgan, of BlackPine Holdings, to style an olive oil and wine tasting for 14 guests. I was able to do all the shopping in Berkeley and Oakland, which was amazing because the food is top notch. I was given some advice by Sharon, who worked for Jeff, that I will never forget. She said, “Do this like you are designing for a movie set.” That was the best advice because it is something I’ve carried through to what I do today.
Presentation really is everything. For this particular job, there were 14 people in attendance but I used food to serve as decor, as well as olive branches, whole pomegranates, and large flower arrangements. Really, all of this is done to set the tone for the guests. I basically built a vignette that transports the guests to another world.
After this job, when did you realize this was the career path for you?
I was hired by Jeff to do his Christmas party for 50 guests. It was very detailed and had lots of parts that needed to be coordinated. After that, he offered me a full-time job. I dropped out of Berkeley Extension and lived with my mom for six months until I was able to move back to Woodland.
I worked for the Morgan’s for three years in interior design and special events. We opened Maria’s Cantina and offices on the West Coast. As those jobs came to a close, John Gamboni and I decided to parlay our talents into event planning. We proposed the use of Jeff’s properties as venues. BlackPine Catering and Events was created out of John and my proposal. We had great clients and felt we were bringing something to Woodland that may not have been available.
How did you transition from BlackPine to owning Emily Murphey Designs?
BlackPine was growing and becoming too big for just us to handle. As it grew, so did the need for leadership that could continue the growth. That transition gave me the opportunity to focus on the parts of event planning that I love the most, which is florals and styling.
All of our BlackPine clients were offered floral design, so when I went on my own I had all this experience. But I was still concerned with making a living. So initially, I took on a job designing three model homes for a company out of Sacramento. That brought the financial security I needed while I sent more postcards out! But, BlackPine really helped me to get the word out that this is what I was doing. Facebook was also a good platform and I built my own website too.
What is your style?
When it comes to floral design I like to pack as many different textures in the bouquet as I can. I like the bouquet and arrangements to look natural and to bring in the element of nature by adding in fruits, kale, cabbage, and lettuces. I often use rosemary and sage in my bouquets because it adds a uniqueness.
For the overall style, I’m a bit of a glitter girl. I wish I could talk every bride into doing metallics and golds with jewel tones. But really, I like to add a little formality and elegance, which can be done for country and shabby chic settings.
What’s one of your favorite memories?
My favorite experience in the whole entire world is handing the bride her bridal bouquet. It is the look on her face, it’s not about the flowers, it’s just something on that day that is memorable. If I have someone assisting me on the day of the wedding, I’m adamant that I’m the one who hands the bride her bouquet.
What do you want Woodland to know?
The best is yet to come. I feel that I’m building on the good energy that Woodland has right now. The networking and supporting of each other is really paying off, it’s exciting.
All photos provided by Emily Murphey Designs