Lisa Przystup has cultivated a life of beauty. From her refined sense of style to her journey in becoming an "accidental" florist, there's a sense of allure in Lisa's many creative endeavors. Putting aesthetics aside, Lisa is truly a woman of words and contends that writing is where her deepest passion lies. Naturally, Lisa's innate talents for storytelling made for an engaging conversation during our recent visit to her cozy home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It was there Lisa shared her thoughts on slow living, self-expression, and embracing confidence in both one's style and oneself.
My name is Lisa Przystup - I'm a writer turned florist turned back into a writer/corporate desk jockey who is currently unapologetically basking in the glow of health care. Being fulfilled with a variety of things that make me feel like I'm living up to my full potential is my important thing.
From Fashion to Flowers
Writing was my first love; fashion was my second, and florals ended up being a happy accident of sorts. I'd say that that writing more than fashion and flowers plays the most important role in my life. It's the one constant thing I have always been drawn to and endeavored to always be better at—even when it hurts. I suppose if I could say one thing about fashion it's that I love the self-expression that clothing affords you. I love the fact that you can wear someone's version of art/design... that feels really special to me, but the trappings of the whole industry really put a bad taste in my mouth. It's funny though, on so many shoots I've met so many people who feel the same way, so it's heartening to know there is a subdivision of people who love fashion and are genuine, wonderful, creative, warm-hearted individuals. I think I've bonded with more people in the industry over the sentence, "I love fashion, but I hate the people involved in it..."
As far as flowers are concerned, I think I've always felt a bit like an imposter... because I was working out of my railroad apartment; I didn't have a cooler, I didn't have a studio or a team... I couldn't really take on big projects because I was working with a really low overhead, but my Instagram feed didn't reflect that reality. I shared photos of big name clients or gigs I was excited about, well, because I was excited about them, but I felt super self-conscious that this representation was disingenuous. So I wish I could have spoken more about that. There's also a little bit of that weird, quiet competition that happens in an industry that is made up of a lot of women - there are a lot of amazing supportive women out there but also a handful of the other sort, but I guess that's life.
Oh man. I think that fashion and florals have absolutely nothing to do with slow living. Both are punishing for different reasons, flowers especially. Being a florist is hard, hard work. You are waking up super early, dealing with the flower market schlep, making almost no money because flowers are stupidly expensive and spending time creating arrangements that people want to last longer on minuscule budgets. It's stressful, non-stop, exhausting work and my hats off to the ladies (and gents) that pull this off full-time. It's really tough because what tends to happen with anyone relying on a creative/artistic skill to make a living is that you end up losing that curation because you are literally just churning out arrangements. It's rare that you have the time to make a thoughtful arrangement, to really take your time and just practice your art. In order to make money, you have to do volume and to do volume you have to let go of your tendency to be precious about things. You have to get a little assembly line about it. I think the challenge is to find inspiration in the midst of all that chaos and repetition. So I guess my answer to your question is that no, working with flowers has not inspired a slower approach to my day... if anything I was always feeling like I was running out of time.
Woman of Words
Writing for me has always been it. It's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and it was born out of a love of reading. I used to sneak a stack of books under my pillow to read when I was supposed to be taking a nap. That was my version of being bad. My dad is an excellent writer and always encouraged me, ruthlessly editing—as most good editors do—telling me to say more with fewer words, all that good stuff. Writing for me is my outlet—it gives me a sense of satisfaction and stillness. Or, as I said earlier, it's the one constant thing I have always been drawn to and endeavored to always be better at—even when it hurts, even when no one is looking, even when it's just for me.
I think that maintaining our ability to express ourselves and communicate through writing is profoundly important... if we don't have words what do we have? How do we connect with people, disseminate information, express the heartbreak of the human condition?
Green Life in Greenpoint
My husband and I have lived in Greenpoint for about six years, in the same spot. I'd say that this neighborhood fosters green living and sustainability as much as any neighborhood in Brooklyn. I think everyone is pretty aware and conscientious. Just last year they even started distributing compost cans, which I thought was pretty forward-thinking. No specific thoughts on how I'd like to see it change.
I think I took a while to find my confidence and sense of style—it happened pretty late in the game for me, and I feel like I finally got comfortable with the truth of who I am sartorially just recently. Until that point, I spent a lot of time imitating and trying to be something I wasn't. As you get older you sort of start to understand that just because you appreciate a certain stylistic decision someone else makes that doesn't mean it's right for you. At this point in my life shoes are about comfort, especially living in a city where you walk everywhere. I feel like a lot of designers I gravitate to manage to marry unique style and design with practical comfort.
I am such an emotional packrat of a collector, and strangely enough, this is the hardest question to answer for me. I guess my "forever item" would be a collection of items—photographs of my parents and me as a child because they capture these real, genuine moments that tell the story of my life and our lives together.
Photos by Bridget Badore for Coclico