Photo by Kimberly Meadowlark, courtesy Amy Vandiver

How Baton Rouge’s Flower Fest bloomed into one of the year’s hottest tickets

Amy Vandiver barely has time to stop and smell the roses, let alone reflect on her accomplishments. But she has a lot to be proud of.  

At 35, Vandiver is at the top of her game. She’s a busy mom of three, the owner of Clover Creative Agency and most recently, the founder of the Flower Fest. 

At the heart of all these roles are the personality traits that help her succeed: She’s a helper and a hype girl. Whether she’s  propping up clients’ messages with clever and calculated marketing strategies, graphic design and branding through Clover Creative, or indirectly helping children in the hospital through her events, she lives and breathes creativity.

Growing up, she always had supplies and resources at her fingertips for making art and building ideas. 

“My mom was an art teacher, and my dad was a salesman,” she says. “Put those two together and you get a ‘me.’” 

Though her current career fits her perfectly, Vandiver never thought she’d be where she is today. Having her first child her senior year of college and being thrown into a dental assistant job, she found that she’d quickly checked everything off her life list. But she wasn’t feeling fulfilled, and through some hard life shifts, she started to come into her own in her 30s. 

“Take whatever your timeline is and crumple it up, because it literally means nothing,” she advises. “I really thought I had it all together at 25. But 35-year-old Amy is much happier and healthier.”

One of those more meaningful—and exciting—shifts took place during the pandemic.  Stuck in the house binging Netflix, she became fascinated by The Big Flower Fight, a reality television show in which florists compete by creating larger-than-life sculptures out of blooms. 

Attendees at the 2022 Flower Fest gala dressed for the floral occasion.

Vandiver thought it would be an excellent idea for an outdoor festival in Baton Rouge to help struggling florists and allow people to gather outdoors during the pandemic. Her thought was that Louisiana had plenty of festivals focusing around food and music. She wanted to showcase the talents of another breed of creatives.

So she created The Flower Fest. She planned the first festival in just 45 days, working resourcefully with her Clover Creative Agency client Pointe Marie to secure an ideal outdoor venue. 

The first event was a hit, with florists creating oversized floral sculptures of spoonbill birds and the Louisiana State Capitol. In its inaugural year, the fest raised over $25,000 for St. Jude. In the second year, the event raised $40,000. But to Vandiver, that wasn’t enough. 

For this year’s Flower Fest, scheduled for April 1-2, Vandiver enlisted a team of honorees, committees and committee chairs. She hopes to raise $100,000. In fact, she believes it will happen.

Though the festival is still in its infancy, Vandiver dreams of a day when all of the South (even all 50 states) are represented by florists. As she sees it, The Flower Fest can drive tourism to the city. 

Vandiver enjoys her work with her creative agency but feels like The Flower Fest is what will really carry on her legacy. She loves that her children have their own dreams that don’t involve taking over their mom’s business and hopes that what once was her small idea continues to make big impacts. 

“I just never had a clue that my silly little idea could do this,” she says. “Knowing that there’s people who don’t think this is a crazy idea is pretty awesome.”

This article was originally published in the January 2023 issue of our sister magazine, 225.