Running a small business is hard. Juggling a mom-and-pop shop operating in two cities with three children under age 5 might sound impossible. But for Sarah and Robbie Forrest, the creators of the photo-friendly pop-up Flower Vault, it’s all in a day’s work.
When Flower Vault first opened in San Antonio and then announced it would expand its pop-ups to a second city, Austin was the most-requested city, according to Sarah. Instead, the Forrests opened one in Houston, making an Austin location even more anticipated.
The installation features eight walls adorned with flowers in various backgrounds and dimensions. Visitors can sit on a fuschia, flower-covered swing, or pop out of bright orange marigolds hanging from the ceiling. Other options include a grid of sunflowers and two walls completely covered in peonies, one pink and the other blue.
As for what makes their business stand out from other Instagram-friendly destinations, Sarah said they try to be less whimsical in their messaging and center on offering a place where families and friends can make memories in a beautiful space.
“We have the flowers and can take more beautiful, classic pictures where people are coming for occasions, events, family photos, things like that,” she said. “They can get a fun experience out of it but also take pictures that may commemorate memories a little bit more beautifully.”
A ticket gets you one hour in the space with access to all the walls; you can bring a professional photographer with you, although the pro would also need a ticket, and no pro lighting is allowed during public hours.
Anyone keeping up to date with the business’s Instagram story, where every member of the Forrest family makes an appearance, can tell you the love of family is at the heart of Flower Vault. Sarah hopes visitors can make going to Flower Vault into a big family or friend outing.
“There’s also tons of other activities in the Domain to do, so you can make a day out of it,” she said. “All those things combined together just seemed like the perfect fit for us.”
The inspiration for the business came from a quick pit stop on the side of a road in San Antonio. Pregnant with her second child, Sarah saw a wall of flowers and thought it would make for a good background for a family photo. That inspired her to create a safe and flower-filled space for others. Now a mother to three young children, Sarah especially wants to provide an affordable place for parents and children to make memories together.
“That’s why kids 10 and under are free always,” she said. “We want it to be affordable for families and just something that they don’t feel like if their toddler has a meltdown, then they wasted money on their kid coming.”
And speaking of creating special moments, numerous couples have used the space to pop the question.
“We feel honored they would choose Flower Vault to make that memory for them,” Sarah said of those who have chosen the spot for marriage proposals.
But some of her favorite photos that she’s seen from visitors are of expecting and new moms taking photos for baby announcements.
“Absolutely love any of the pregnancy announcements. People have taken bump pictures and they come back with their baby,” she said. “I love those just because of how sentimental they are.”
Sarah comes up with every background idea at Flower Vault. She and Robbie make the logistics work. This means their kids get toted along to early morning installations and shopping trips. When the walls finally come together, there are some clear favorites for the couple’s children — Olivia, 3, Melbourne, 1, and Theodore (Teddy), 5 months.
“They love anytime they interact with (an installation) where they can walk among the flowers,” she said. “Anything they can get their hands on and move around, they love those ones.”
Sarah’s favorite wall is one she dubbed “Where’s Wallflower,” in which visitors can try on a jumpsuit matching the flower-patterned wall behind them. (The flowers are not real.)
“It’s not necessarily the crowd favorite, because it’s funky, but you can get into a jumpsuit and completely camouflage into the wall,” she said. “It’s just so funny because it’s just people’s heads that pop out of the pictures. I love that one.”
For $10, pets can also get a ticket. Sarah said pets are part of the family, and she wanted everyone to be able “to bring every part of their family into the space.” Flower Vault has welcomed dogs, cats, bunnies and even a hedgehog. But there’s one animal that didn’t make it through the door, literally.
“Someone almost brought their horse, but we were talking the logistics of it, and it was a little bit hard to figure out, so she didn’t, but almost a horse,” Sarah said.
Above all, the couple’s goal for Flower Vault is to create a space that brings people joy.
“We want it not just to be providing your next profile picture,” she said. “We want it to be something where people can come together as a community and have the experience together, have memories together.”