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Rising Stars: Meet Sarah Hefner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Hefner.

Hi Sarah, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hi! Thank you for the opportunity to share my art and story. I am the owner & floral designer of Petals & Bark, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Growing up I was always pushed towards sports, it wasn’t until college that I really started to experiment with art. I took a few classes on design and color theory, and slowly started venturing out towards painting, and then sculpting when it would snow. Being creative brought this new sense of tranquility and joy. When I get in the zone and lost in the process, I lose track of time.

Like many others, covid-19 completely wrecked my world and lifestyle. After some nudging from my close circle of people in the very beginning of the pandemic, my small business concept began in April 2020.

Due to allergies, I have always been seeking an alternative to fresh flowers. and it broke my heart to see hundreds of dollars of fresh flowers tossed into trash cans at the end of weddings. Petals and Bark initally began as a hobby on our dining room table during the Covid-19 lockdown to a full service wedding alternative florist.

I initially created a few home decor, succulents, and animal arrangements for family and friends, posting the photos on my personal Facebook page. Very quickly, I was being contacted for custom orders and weddings. By the end of summer, it became a full-fledged business. In January 2021, we launched our website and went all in to follow this dream.

Currently, we are in the process of building a new private studio to increase our production space. As we have grown, our direction has shifted more towards weddings, elopements, and bouquets. However, we do still take custom orders and attended a few public markets throughout the year.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting a business in the middle of a pandemic was not a smooth road, there was a great deal of trial and error.

It was difficult to break into the wedding industry as an alternative florist. Many people instantly reject the idea of wood flowers because they have a preconceived notion that “faux flowers are tacky”, “look cheap”, or “are the DIY option” without even looking at my work.

With any product, there are different levels of artistry, and not all wood flowers are the same. This business was such a creative outlet for me, and I was determined to see it through.

The negativity can be very discouraging, but don’t let it stop you from creating! Trust your heart. This brand is an extension of my art and personality. I have never followed the crowd, and it was important to me that certain aspects of the business weren’t or aren’t what everyone else does.

It is okay to be different, go against the norm, and carve your own path. Another struggle was growth. We took off so fast that we quickly ran out of production space and it became difficult to separate business and personal in both space and time.

Setting boundaries was a hard lesson to learn, but it was so beneficial for smooth operations and downtime.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Petals & Bark is an alternative florist, specializing in luxury wood, silk, and dried flowers for Weddings, Elopements, and all occasions. We use and create environmentally friendly wood flowers to design realistic bouquets and arrangements.

By combining years of experience in the wedding industry, education in color theory, and a background in woodworking/sculpting, I was able to create a design style unique to the brand based on realism. We strive to create designs that fool the eye.

Our flowers look and feel soft like fresh flowers, but are low maintenance, hypoallergenic, require no water, and will not wilt or perish. We provide a one-on-one designing experience with each client to bring their floral dreams to life. We pride ourselves on having something for everyone, working with any color, style, or mood, with no order minimums, and nationwide shipping available.

We have an affinity for animals, and volunteer with several animal organizations. Our Paws & Petals animal arrangements are inspired by submitted photos of your pet. We replicate your furry friend from wood flowers and place them in a garden. The gardens are made from a selection of your favorite wood flowers and greenery.

These unique and personal gifts make wonderful additions for any pet owner or animal lover.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Risk-taking is part of life. Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves with something new.

Without risk, there is no room for growth. It is okay to be scared to fail. If you fail at something, try again. Don’t let failure discourage you from trying. For example, if you don’t jump, you can’t fly and will always be wondering what could have been if you didn’t try.

If we always stay in the safe lane, then we may be missing out on some of life’s greatest joys and adventures.


  • Paw & Petals Arrangement $75
  • Individual Succulent $12
  • Large Handpicked Bouquet $225
  • Boxed Arrangement $75
  • X-Large Wild Bouquet $275

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nelya Photos, Erin Bancoft Photography, Kelsey Young Photography, OkCrowe Photography, JB Media, and Chasing Lux Photography

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