Bree Iman Clarke Brings People Together with Flowers

The plucky, Dallas-based entrepreneur behind The Iman Project and The Plant Project uses flowers to build community and encourage conversation
Floral arrangement by Bree Iman Clarke of The Iman Project with Italian ruscus, asparagus fern, carnations, spray roses, roses, ‘blushing bride’ protea, ranunculus, scabiosa, astilbe. Photography by Manny Rodriguez
Don’t miss Bree Iman Clarke’s floral tutorial for this arrangement at the end of this post. Vase from The Iman Project.

Bree Iman Clarke is an entrepreneurial dynamo. While building her first business, she and her husband, Carlos, slept in their Honda Accord, took showers at a fitness club, and changed clothes at Target. Now the couple owns The Little House Project Studio, a multipurpose space in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas where Carlos creates sought-after farmhouse tables and Bree hosts her in-demand On the Table workshops, all housed under the Iman Project umbrella.

Bree Iman Clarke, founder of The Iman Project & The Plant Project

Bree often appears on local news media; has been featured in Forbes twice to discuss the challenges of being a Black businesswoman; and has been covered in Paper City, the Dallas Observer, and D Magazine, among others. She has her own series on CW33, A Seat at the Table with Bree; gave a popular TEDx Talk; and creates pop-up shops featuring the work of local artisans.

During the pandemic, she has added two businesses to her portfolio: Bree Blooms, a flower-shipment and floral-tutorial program, and The Plant Project, a shop filled with plants, candles, books, and gifts. On top of all that, Bree is a mother to elementary school–age twin boys. What is she not? “A floral designer,” she laughs. “I use flowers as a way to bring people together.”

Her foray into flowers sprang from a childhood spent in her grandmother’s driveway and garden.

“A friend of my grandmother’s was always coming over to talk about plants, and I learned he was the first African American man to graduate from Texas A&M with a horticulture degree. I realized later that I picked up a lot of what he was teaching us,” Bree says. She also bonded with her mother over flowers, so moving into a flower-based business seemed like a natural segue.

small rose arrangement
Materials: ranunculus, Italian ruscus, Grevillea foliage, spray roses, roses, carnations, celosia, Tegan pot from Iman + Co.

Having a passion for people as well as flowers, Bree’s mission evolved into her On the Table workshops, where she wants everyone—people of all colors and body types—to gather to share food, work with flowers, build friendships, and tackle difficult conversations.

Over three years and countless workshops, she has witnessed a powerful alchemy that takes place within the sessions. Participants, while surrounded by flowers and experimenting with different arrangements, have organically settled into conversation about life and its inherent challenges.

“My main goal in arranging is to make sure every flower is seen, and for my floral workshops, it’s making sure there is a place for everyone at the table and that everyone’s voice is heard.” — Bree Iman Clarke
floral arrangement in a large bowl by Bree Iman Clarke of The Iman Project
Materials: Italian ruscus, asparagus fern, pink hydrangea, white scabiosa, pinkberry, roses, Mexican heather, spray roses, ranunculus, Christmas fern , ‘Blushing Bride’ protea, mini zinnias, concrete vase from Accent Décor

Bree’s guiding tenet is the idea of community, and it means everything in her business and personal lives. And sometimes, difficult times open up surprising opportunities. “During the pandemic, my workshops launched nationally, so the discussion is no longer local,” she says. “I’m able to create with my hands and my heart, hopefully to better my Dallas community and now others as well.”

Bree’s Floral Tutorial

Below, Bree shares step-by-step instructions for how to re-create the arrangement seen at the top of this post. For more, follow her on Instagram at @theimanproject and @theplantproject__ or visit theimanproject.com.

Flowers and foliage to be used in the arrangement laid out in a row on a wooden surface
Materials: Italian ruscus, asparagus fern, carnations, spray roses, roses, ‘Blushing Bride’ protea, ranunculus, scabiosa, astilbe

Step 1

I chose a very simple and versatile container on the small side. Using a neutral container ensures the focus is on the flowers. Fold up a piece of chicken wire and place it in the container, and add water.

step 1, tucking chicken wire into a vase

Step 2

Next, start to build your base of greenery. I used two types, glossy Italian ruscus and fluffy asparagus fern, as contrasts to each other. You can always add in more greenery toward the end if needed.

Step 2, begin with foliage

Step 3

I enjoy using the underrated carnation! Manipulate the bloom to make it open up more. Build a triangle of blooms nestled in the greenery. I find that the triangle approach works for all skill levels.

step 3, detail of Bree Iman Clarke of The Iman Project placing bright yellow carnations. She wears a bright gold stack of bangles that matches the bright bloom.

Step 4

Next add clusters of spray roses. Trim the long stems. If you don’t have spray roses, try another small flower such as lisianthus—multibloom stems are great for filling in blank spaces and for pops of color.

step 4, adding peach-pink spray roses

Step 5

More roses! Reflex standard roses to look more like garden roses; the yellow tone of the  rose helps to unite the palette, from the pale-pink spray roses to the pale-yellow carnations. Let some sit a little higher in the arrangement and put some at the base.

step 5, Bree Iman Clarke of The Iman Project demonstrates how to reflex rose petals by pulling an outer petal back using her thumb and forefinger

Step 6

I like to add layers of interesting texture and color by including astilbe and ‘Blushing Bride’ protea to align the palette and start to pull it together visually.

step 6, adding blushing bride protea

Step 7

Time for some flourishes! Use ranunculus and scabiosa for movement in the design. Let them dance above. These blooms add a playful note to the arrangement.

step 7, adding "sherbet orange"-colored ranunculus and a white scabiosa, both with taller stems than the other flowers

Step 8

To further unite the palette, I chose these roses for their pretty pink tone. I twirled them and reflexed them for a more dynamic look. Finally, look for any holes in the arrangement, and fill in with more greenery or leftover blooms.

Step 8, Bree Iman Clarke of The Iman Project place one fully open pink rose to finish her floral arrangement

Produced by Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Manny Rodriguez | Floral design by Bree Iman Clarke of The Iman Project and The Plant Project

Flower magazine May June 2021 cover

This story originally appeared in Flower magazine’s May/June 2021 issue. Find Flower in a store near you or subscribe.

On the Cover: In a garden by landscape architect Quincy Hammond, a bench based on Beatrix Farrand’s drawings for the Rose Bench at Dumbarton Oaks sits on an axis through the cutting garden, beneath red-leaved Norway maples. Photo by Lauren Coleman. See story.

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