By Maureen Schweers
Alexandria, VA – Strong roots are essential, whether you’re talking about community or plants. Just ask Amy Eggers.
After a career in broadcast journalism and media production, Eggers launched her woman-run microbusiness, FLORA Roots & Stems, in 2019. After all the pandemic-canceled weddings and events, she pivoted to sewing 800 custom masks and expanding her business to Amy Eggers Designs, a full-range company for living and design needs, including textiles, florals, plants, home decor, and accessories.
Eggers comes from a family of makers and women who do it all. Her grandmother ran a full-service catering and floral design company. Then-Senator John F. Kennedy was a client. “I started learning from my grandmother,” said Eggers. “I have always had a love for presentation and making things enjoyable, whether it was hosting parties, decorating, or creating things for others.”
A fourth-generation Del Ray resident (all of her great-grandparents lived in the neighborhood!), Eggers and her husband of over 20 years, Mark, run the business out of the Del Ray home they share with their son and menagerie of eight pets. Her father built the house, which is located just blocks from buildings her grandfather, Cecil, managed in the 1950s and less than a mile from where her grandmother Marie sparked the creative and entrepreneurial spirit that motivates Eggers today.
As COVID-19 restrictions make the home more important than ever, Eggers specializes in creating beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces on a budget. “People want more curated spaces and to make their house more of a home because they are home more,” said Eggers. “I love bringing living elements into the home — fresh flowers, houseplants, even unexpected wood sculptures that incorporate air plants, portraits of unusual things and animals, and anything that serves as a conversation starter.”
She has immersed herself in the neighborhood, serving on the Del Ray Business Association board and chairing its marketing and retail committees, launching the popular Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market with Lauren Fisher, co-chairing Art on the Avenue’s first-ever virtual festival; and more. “I have deep roots here. I love that it’s an eclectic neighborhood that is receptive to individual artistry,” she said.
The Zebra asked Eggers about home trends for spring and how to prepare for a slow and safe return to normal:
What are your favorite home trends for 2021?
My favorite home trend for Spring/Summer 2021 is a style called “Cottagecore.” It’s a throwback to colors, patterns, and sentiments your grandmother may have had (not mine though, who was more Liberace-Baroque!) Cottagecore mixes traditional design elements with modern touches, finishes, and lighting. For instance, pairing a classic club chair with a novelty throw pillow and round brushed gold mirror. It’s nostalgic and comforting, which we could all use right now!
What are some low-budget and low-effort but high-impact home projects we should be taking on right now?
My favorite fixer-upper now is outdoor lighting. It can change a home or business’s curb appeal overnight, literally! I prefer using solar string market lights, spotlights, and even lanterns. The options for solar are so advanced now that you can even get tea lights with remote controls! The harsh LED tones have also given way to much warmer golden tones and Edison-style bulbs. Uplight your trees or landscaping with spotlights and drape your railings or frame doorways with the market lights. By using solar, you never have to worry about hardwiring, and you can easily move things around from season to season too.
It looks like we’ll still be social distancing through spring. What are your favorite tips for entertaining outdoors?
Get a good organizer caddy! Store all of your flatware in one easy-to-carry basket along with napkins and cups and plates. You can grab and go at a moment’s notice for an outdoor get-together in your backyard or at a park. Weighted napkin holders are also very helpful, so the wind doesn’t decide to sweep away your paper goods! Lastly, folding floor chairs or stadium seats are very useful if you anticipate gathering somewhere that may not have enough chairs. The theme is mobility and adaptability!
What little-to-no-maintenance houseplants do you recommend to spruce up a home office?
Oh, there are so many to choose from! My main goal when plant consulting is to find out how much care the client can commit to, what type of lighting is in their home or office, are there any pets and, in normal times, how much they travel. All of these factors can make or break someone’s green thumb. I hate it when either an unhealthy plant or the wrong plant is sold to someone. It never leads to success and makes the customer feel they did something wrong, which is not the case.
So with all of this said, the ZZ Plant is at the top of my list. This plant is incredibly durable and can withstand low light, low water, and a variety of temperatures. I would also recommend the Snake Plant, or Sansevieria. This member of the succulent family is much less finicky and can tolerate low light and infrequent waterings. Lastly, if you want something vining, try the Pothos. These come in a variety of shades, from chartreuse to variegated green and gold. They require more intense waterings, but they’ll tell you when they’re thirsty and perk back up quickly.
What should we be planting in our flower beds right now? Is it too soon to start gardening?
The Farmer’s Almanac says we should be safe to start planting annuals after the first weekend of April, which is now! With anything rooted outside, you want to avoid the threat of a hard frost. Some annuals can withstand a light to moderate freeze, but I like to be on the conservative side and wait to avoid any risk, especially since so much time and money goes into gardening.
Depending on your light, of course, you can start planting Pansies, Petunias, Dianthus, Snapdragons, and Geraniums. For greenery, try some Liriope, Hostas, or even Creeping Jenny or Pachysandra for ground coverings. Play around with lines, color, and designs in your garden beds, or consider planting a group of containers of varying heights in your yard, porch, or balcony.
The COVID-19 vaccine is bringing new hope for a return to normal. What type of things should we be thinking about and doing now to get ready?
Now is the time to clean and get organized so that it’s not a mad rush when we can entertain inside again. Despite being home for more than a year, there hasn’t been much reason to spruce things up. A lot of regular routines may have fallen by the wayside. A deep cleaning either by you or a cleaning service can rejuvenate a home and make you want to have people over, enjoy it more for yourself, and even consider redecorating with furniture, rugs, pictures, and items you already have without spending a fortune.
What advice do you have for individuals looking to redecorate or renovate?
There’s a lot of anxiety about making decisions. Go with your gut. Choose what makes you happy. If you have to think about it, it’s probably not for you. Be true to yourself and what you like. If anything is forced, it will show.
The Del Ray Vintage Flea Market returns this month! What should we expect?
We are so excited! This will be our third season, amazingly enough. We’ve increased the number of vendors to around 30 for this year versus 20-ish from last year. We are inviting Del Ray restaurants to set up booths or tables to sell their food. We expanded the market to include artisan and upcycle vendors instead of only antiques and flea market finds. Of course, Monica Schiavo will be back, too, with her “Trash or Treasure” appraisal table and Z-TV show by the same name. And, stay tuned; some friendly contests will be announced soon.
What is your favorite flea market find of all time?
How could I possibly choose!? I once bought a sign that said, “Champaign is my Spirit Animal!” I also was lucky enough to get one of our vendor’s (Paul Erlenborn) hand-crafted wooden Christmas Trees with all sorts of jetsam and flotsam decorating it. We’ve had everything from vintage bamboo tiki bars to antique medical illustrations, semi-precious gems, kitchen gadgets—the list goes on. It has become a proper flea market, and I hope the community enjoys it as much as I do.
Amy Eggers Designs provides a wide range of living and design needs for individual and corporate clients, ranging from florals, plants, home decor & accessories, and more. Learn more at amyeggers.com.
Eggers was the mastermind behind the #ilovedelray campaign, which spotlighted ways to support local businesses. Some locally-owned businesses that can help you get it together:
An industry hard-hit by COVID-19, dry cleaners care for more than just professional attire — they can clean your drapes, comforters, rugs. Two favorites: The Greener Cleaner (greenercleanerdelray.com) and Yates Dry Cleaning (www.yatesdrycleaning.com) — both offer pick-up and delivery service.
Flea markets and antique shops are the perfect sources for unique finds to personalize your home. Visit the Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market on the 1900 block of Mount Vernon Avenue the second Saturday of every month, or Del Ray’s antique shop, La Brocante, at 1904 Mount Vernon Avenue. Don’t miss their vintage cocktail glasses!
Clear the clutter! Bellies & Babies Consignment Boutique (belliesbabies.com) and The Company of Books (tcbdelray.com) are two popular consignment shops in Del Ray — check their website for items they are currently accepting.
Health & Wellness
Getting it together isn’t just limited to physical items — don’t forget to make time for self-care. Visit The Wellness District at visitdelray.com/wellness for a wide range of holistic health care professionals and fitness studios.
Want more tips? Search #ilovedelray on Facebook and Instagram.