As a florist, Tabia Yapp is interested in the beauty of imperfection.
“I try to make sure that every single flower has a window to shine,” says the young Los Angeles-based owner of Bia Blooms and talent agency Beotis. “And I like there to be some surprising element in the design, whether that’s one flower that’s sticking out that commands your eye, or the shape and it being asymmetrical. I like the flowers to be seen as perfectly imperfect.”
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Bia Blooms, currently based out of a studio space above the L.A. Flower Market, took root early in the pandemic, although Yapp’s interest in florals had seeded well before then. Yapp was planning a wedding with her now-husband when she began trying her hand at designing arrangements to better communicate what she was looking for. “And in the process, I was going to Trader Joe’s, like so many of us, and just picking out flowers that seemed exciting,” she says, adding that she read one book for early guidance, “A Year in Flowers” by Erin Benzakein.
“I’m a pretty self-critical person. I feel like to be an entrepreneur and to run your own business you have to carry some level of criticism to move forward,” she says. “It’s rare that I look at something, and I’m, like, ‘Wow, I think that’s pretty good’ on the first try. But with florals, I made the arrangement, and there was something electric that happened.”
Yapp founded Beotis in 2015 to represent writers and artists of color, many of whom have seen their careers soar in the past few years; the company’s roster includes National Book Award poetry finalist Danez Smith along with Hanif Abdurraqib, Ashley C. Ford, Eve L. Ewing and Clint Smith.
“Much of the work we do is supporting our roster of artists as speakers. Before the pandemic, that meant a lot of travel, and that meant a lot of large groups,” she says.
That rhythm came to a halt in March 2020. “We had a ton of bandwidth, and then this flower thing kind of coincided,” she says, adding that Beotis was able to keep its entire team despite the pandemic. “And so it just so happened that with the free time that I had, I was able to spend more time in the floral world.”
She began sharing her floral designs on social media and taking commissions for personal arrangements. A few months later, in the summer of 2020, Yapp woke up to an email from a producer for Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z. The creatives wanted to cast her in the music video for “Entrepreneur,” which features cameos from Black entrepreneurs across various fields.
“That was a jumping-off point for Bia Blooms and the work that I was doing, being able to have that platform and be alongside so many other hardworking, dedicated Black businesses that deserve to shine. I was grateful for them sharing their light in that way,” says Yapp.
The exposure brought new recognition for Bia Blooms.
“Online, there was a lot of love poured into all of the businesses that were featured,” she adds.
Yapp credits recipients of her arrangements tagging her work on social media, and the power of word of mouth, as a significant driver of the growth of Bia Blooms. “That makes a really big difference for small businesses: telling people that you’re excited about something and spreading the word that way,” she says. “I have full appreciation for every single person who went out of their way to support the work I’m doing.”
In addition to the personal arrangements that launched Bia Blooms, Yapp has collaborated with many brands. Recently, she designed florals for a Balmain Hair Couture event, the season finale party for “Abbott Elementary” and giftings for Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Veuve Clicquot. Recipients of the company’s colorful arrangements include Rihanna, Lizzo, and Chloé Zhao. She’s worked on a 40th birthday party that required a U-Haul refrigerator truck of flowers and an intimate dinner party for 15 people. On social media, she’s partnered with Ugg’s sister brand Koolaburra by Ugg, Costa Brazil and Beyond Yoga.
A two-day event with Alexander McQueen in 2021 solidified Yapp’s interest in working with brands on event design. “After that, I had a moment where I was, like, ‘This is a fusion of so many of the things that I’ve done in my past as far as being in the experiential programmatic world, running a company that supports the execution of events and speakers and live experiences, and then florals.’”
In addition to event design, Yapp has partnered with brands to create Bia Bloom Bars, an experiential activation where individuals can pick out flowers from a large spread. “It creates a splash on social, people get to take home free flowers, and I get to see all of the individuals light up as they’re creating their custom bouquet for themselves,” she says, adding that she hopes to bring back one-off flower drops for local delivery down the road.
No matter the size of the brand or event she’s working on, Yapp is inspired by thinking about the impact of her flowers at the individual level. She’s in the business of making sure people feel seen, whether that’s one of the Beotis artists she’s working with or someone on the receiving end of her floral designs. The temporal nature of the work has also allowed her to slow down.
“Seeing a singular flower become something larger is a rewarding process. And it’s been a space for me to slow down and unplug and focus on what’s in front of me,” she says. “Beotis as an agency that represents artists, the people are beautiful. They’re so smart. I feel so grateful to be part of their careers as they continue to bloom themselves.”
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