After six long months of searching for the perfect vintage truck, Amy Abt started her mobile floral market Ma Jolie Marché, the first of its kind in the Minneapolis scene. We chatted with Abt about Coco (her truck), why carnations are her favorite flowers, and how she styles florals throughout the fall and winter.
What prompted you to start a flower truck and how did you come up with the name Ma Jolie Marché?
It’s not a new concept by any means. It’s actually quite common all over Europe. We knew we wanted the truck to have a luxe French aesthetic as a nod to its European counterparts and my ultimate love of Paris. Ma jolie in French means “my pretty.” It all just made sense.
We partnered with the incredibly talented folks over at Friends & Neighbors in downtown Minneapolis to help bring the luxe brand to life. They did an incredible job delivering on our vision, and it has since won several national branding awards.
What was the search process for your vintage VW truck like?
We had very high standards when we went looking for Coco, our truck. We wanted it to be a certain vintage, in pristine condition and a neutral color. Because of this, the search took six months starting back in fall 2017. We flew out to California and visited several trucks in January 2018, but none fit the mold. Finally, we found one online in February 2018 and bought it sight unseen. We only made a few updates to it, including adding a new black-and-white striped canopy, houndstooth upholstery and safari windows that swing out. Coco arrived in Minneapolis in April 2018, and we launched Ma Jolie a month later.
How do you get inspired?
My fiancé Dave West and I are serial entrepreneurs, so we’re always dreaming and scheming. He previously owned a design and branding agency where we met, so we’re both well-acquainted with the creative side of business. He also designed, built and still owns Volstead’s in Uptown Minneapolis, a secret bar ranked as one of the top 21 cocktail bars in the country by Thrillist. He also owns and runs a wood manufacturing company in Northeast Minneapolis called Nordic Shells.
In addition to Ma Jolie, I own and run a marketing and design consultancy called Revel PR. We’re lucky in that we have very complementary strengths and can build off each other’s ideas. Often, we get our inspiration from traveling.
What are your favorite fall travel destinations?
Locally, I absolutely love Stillwater. Walking along the riverfront in the fall is very grounding. There are also so many delicious places to eat like Domaćin and the Dock Cafe. Plus my favorite winery, Saint Croix Vineyards, is so lovely during the fall.
Beyond Minnesota, we spent last fall in Cape Cod, and that was gorgeous. We stayed at the Chatham Bars Inn right on the waterfront but drove all around the cape. Tons of great restaurants, fresh oysters and lobster, and lots of cute shops.
And quite honestly, one of my favorite excursions during the season is seeing my family down in the Driftless Area of Viroqua, Wisconsin. It’s only a few hours from the Twin Cities, but it has everything you could possibly need: breathtaking views, charming downtown shops, wineries, agriculture, the James Beard–nominated Driftless Cafe, Kickapoo Coffee and Viroqua Food Co-op. I’m endlessly grateful for my little hometown.
Where do you source Ma Jolie’s flowers from?
Some of the flower varieties are grown on my childhood farm by my dad. But the majority of flowers come from all over the world through my wholesaler.
Going into autumn, what are your go-to flowers and ways to style florals throughout the season?
There are still so many flowers available in the fall. For me, it’s more about the color palette than the flower. I love blush and orange tones for fall. Ranunculus comes in some incredible tones. Also carnations are available year-round, and in my opinion, don’t get nearly enough credit. Carnations happen to be my favorite flower because they’re so colorful, versatile, inexpensive and long-lasting.
My other latest obsession is drying flowers. These look great no matter the season, but can be especially beautiful in fall. Carnations, craspedia, eucalyptus, thistle, brunia balls and green trick are all gorgeous as dried flowers.
The winter holidays are my favorite, so although you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway. In the winter, I love flowers and greens with a cooler tone to them. Eucalyptus is great because there are so many varieties and it dries nicely. Brunia balls are these stunning branches with furry silver balls on them. And winter berry is a quintessential wintertime look, with its gorgeous strands of bright red berries. The best part is they all dry out really nicely. I still have an arrangement in my bathroom from last Christmas, and it looks great.
What is your all-time favorite flower?
Overall, my aesthetic tends to be more classic and timeless. That’s why I love carnations. People think I’m crazy because they have gotten to be somewhat commonplace, but carnations are truly incredible flowers. They were considered the rose of our grandparents’ generation because they were more accessible and, at the time, one of the most versatile flowers. I think it’s a stunning classic flower, and if done well, it doesn’t have to look commonplace at all.
When hosting holiday celebrations, how do you recommend decorating with flowers?
Many people are intimated by flowers. If you want to keep it simple and low-stress, there are a few principles you can follow. Here are some of my favorite tricks:
• If you’re new to arranging or color theory, just choose a couple of colors and build your bouquet within those tones to avoid looking too messy.
• If you’re on a budget or a time crunch, get five or seven small bud vases, put a single stem in each, and place them in a line down the center of your table. Make sure you go with an odd number. It’s simple and clean, yet makes a stunning statement. Ranunculus or anemones are my favorites for these, but alstroemeria or poms work great, too.
• Don’t disregard greenery. A bouquet of greenery can have an elegant, understated look and will last a long time. Eucalyptus is fragrant and beautiful. Another favorite of mine is myrtle.
• When in doubt, opt for a bouquet of all the same flower. Whether it’s a bundle of deep burgundy ranunculus in a short vase or a tall arrangement of delphinium or snapdragons, there’s something to be said about single-variety arrangements.