Looking at the impressive, artful, and dynamic installations and arrangements in the Helios Floral portfolio, you would think that Keelia Otten, the brains and heart behind the biz, was destined to be a floral designer. While this may be true, the path to get there was not always cut and dry.
Photography by Wild Animas
Keelia has been fascinated by the world of flora for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Denver, CO with a family who loved to garden, she has fond memories of romping through flower beds and observing the creatures that called them home. Her family still remarks at Keelia’s fondness of “bubs and wosies,” which is young Keelia speak for “bulbs and roses.”
However, like many great artists and creators, Keelia began her career in a different field entirely. With dreams of becoming a doctor, she chose Biology as her major when starting at the University of Denver, but quickly realized that it left her feeling unfulfilled. Where her heart lay was not in the medical field, but in the botanical world.
With this realization, Keelia pivoted her courses to align with her plant passions, taking on botany, ecology, dendrology and conservation ecology throughout the course of her studies and ultimately graduated with a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Sustainability.
After graduating, she searched for places that shared her passion for sustainability and was introduced to a floral design shop in Denver. While her initial role was removed from the floral design component and involved selling wedding packages, within her first season, she was overseeing client projects from conception to execution.
While this shop gave her a great foundation for developing her floral design chops, she wanted to explore the potential for increasing the sustainability of a floral design operation. She dreamed of a business where floral foam was viewed as a relic of the past, where composting stems was a no-brainer, where local flower growers were the heroes of every arrangement and where natural landscapes informed design. And thus, Helios Floral was born.
Come back next week for part 2 of the Helios origin story! It involves starting over, landscape design, and witches.