We had the good fortune of connecting with Krystal Chang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Krystal, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always known that I wanted to work for myself. A few years after college I was doing free-lance design work, making furniture, and writing, but I don’t think I was fully ready for it at the time. I went to a graduate design-build program at Auburn University for a year, and then came back to LA and worked as a project manager for a construction company for seven years—my longest work stint anywhere. In job reviews, when they ask where do you see yourself in five years, I knew I wanted be on my own in five years, even if I wasn’t sure how to get there, or even what exactly I would be doing. After I quit, I got my architecture license, had a few flower jobs lined up, and a small landscape design job. All of my projects were for friends or friends-of-friends. I was always wondering if I could actually make it work—could I do flowers, landscape, and architecture all together? How do I present myself? I’ve heard that making a business last past the three year mark is the true test, and I saw that happen—that was the point where I started getting work from people who I had no connection to, who contacted me solely because of work that I had done. One thing I think is important is to create the work that you want other people to hire you to make—you need to create some version of it and put it out in the world first for people to see so they know what you can do.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m trying to do work that melds the different worlds that I’ve been in—architecture, construction, landscape, flowers, art…It’s a lot of different things that are tangentially connected, and I’m trying to make everything I do into a more continuous practice. I’ve been thinking lately about how to unify flowers and spaces. It’s interesting to see how things come back—an idea that I’ve worked on before will re-surface in a new context and I can explore it further. When I started my business, I started with the idea that I wanted to create beautiful things. Not pretty things—and I think the difference is that there is another layer of meaning, that expands the immediate to a larger world. With flowers, I like to pull in other references—ecological, cultural, historical, literary, scientific. One of the reasons I work with nature is it makes you realize how many different ways there are to be in the world! In a field botany class I learned about alternation of generations – ferns and seaweed do this—one generation will look like what we think of as ferns, the next generation are microscopic spores, and the generation after that looks like ferns again. Or look up how peanuts grow! The world is constantly amazing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Drive up to Malibu, do a hike, and then pick up food from Broad Street Oyster Company and take it to Malibu Bluffs park where you can get a picnic table overlooking the ocean. Do an art and architecture tour of LA: In Downtown LA there’s the Bradbury Building, Disney Hall, The Broad, the Federal Courthouse, MOCA and the ICA. Stalk some Lautner and Case Study houses, and visit the MAK Center at the Schindler House. LACMA and the Getty, the Getty Villa, and the galleries in Chinatown and on La Cienega.
Go to Esters in Santa Monica for a wine tasting and the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. Proof Bakery for the croissant and chocolate chip cookie, but also a sandwich and piece of cake. Cherry soft serve at Wax Paper. Tsubaki for modern Japanese food and the best desserts. In Glendale, Mini Kabob for the chicken shish plate and Zhengyalov Hatz for the only thing on the menu: a flatbread stuffed with 15 herbs. Try to get a reservation at Wolvesmouth.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My sister! Jade Chang—she’s a writer—her novel The Wangs vs the World came out in 2016 and she’s currently working on a second novel. Early on when I started my own business she referred her friends to me for flowers and landscape design. The first wedding flowers I did was for her close friend. I go to her for business advice, from how much things should be priced to feedback on packaging designs. She has always been up for hands-on help for installations, pop-ups, weddings, etc., even making flower deliveries on Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. She recently helped me install the show that’s currently on view at ESMoA, where I had her stringing flowers and nailing leaves to the wall. I trust her eye, she’s always upbeat, and I can pay her in snacks!