Nancy White 1979

Nancy White '79
  • Floral Designer and Business Owner | The Flower Bar
  • B.A., Studio Art | Sweet Briar College, 1979

After years in magazines and advertising sales, Nancy White, Class of 1979, decided to reinvent herself as a floral designer. Her first day at work was during Valentine’s Day weekend. Amid the chaos of one of the industry’s busiest days, she found a calling that appealed to both her creative and business sides.

After years in magazines and advertising sales, Nancy White decided to reinvent herself as a floral designer. Her first day at work was during Valentine’s Day weekend. Amid the chaos of one of the industry’s busiest days, she found a calling that appealed to both her creative and business sides.

Since then, Nancy had purchased that same suburban New York shop, built connections with flower growers across the globe, and increased her business fourfold. “You create your own life,” Nancy says. “Sweet Briar gives you the tools and the confidence to do that.”

A studio art major at Sweet Briar, Nancy, Class of 1979, enjoyed the freedom to work with professors in designing her own classes. She also took her share of economics courses, a decision that would come in handy as she embarked on an entrepreneurial career.

Nancy started out in the marketing department at Sotheby’s and later launched her own fine arts consulting business and a magazine to promote show houses. She shifted to selling magazine ad space, but as more advertising moved online, it was time for a new direction. On the advice of a Sweet Briar friend, she signed up for a floral design program at the New York Botanical Garden and secured an internship at her hometown shop, The Flower Bar, in Larchmont.

Within a year, she owned the business and was engaged in a fast-paced learning curve of sourcing the finest blossoms from around the world. The best roses, she learned, come from South America. Tulips, of course, come from Holland. But so do many other blossoms, which flow through a giant Dutch flower market the size of six football fields. She quickly learned the difference between a Freedom rose and a Hearts rose, both red. And she found out that Mother’s Day produces nearly three times more orders than Valentine’s Day.

Beyond the flowers, Nancy focuses on building and managing her staff, from the floral designers to the delivery drivers. “You’ve got to get the right flowers to the right people at the right time—in perfect condition,” she says. Working with her husband, an actuary and management consultant, she analyzes the trends and patterns in her floral sales, as well as pricing structures and marketing strategies. Her shop was voted “The best florist in Westchester County” in 2022. “The key thing about me is that I’m an entrepreneur,” she says. “I like having that focus and purpose.”