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Reciprocity Makes Perfect Sense to Floral Designer Cate Hishon

Cate Hishon stands with a smile near the front door of Resonance.Photography by Marina Dempster Photography. Makeup by Mau's Makeup.

Bold colour is a trademark for floral designer Cate Hishon. 

"I definitely love colour," says the floral designer, event coordinator, and owner of the local shop Designs By Cate. "Colour really lifts people, especially when you're sending flowers. When you receive a colourful bouquet, it can lift your mood."

After many years spent designing flowers and organizing events out of her home, as well as a five-year stint coordinating events for the Stratford Festival, Hishon opened her retail store in Stratford's downtown about seven years ago.

Her fondness for colours that pop is obvious when you walk into the store. There is so much to see and sniff, with blossoming things in every corner. Cards, gifts, decor items, essential oils all combine in a way that reflect Hishon's joyful personality. 

This season, Hishon is designing arrangements that hint at fall's deep colours, but linger a little in summer, too. 

"I love a soft, gold colour in flowers right now, mixed with pink," says Hishon. "Beautiful pinks and oranges mixed together is off the beaten trail. It's a little bit boho."

That unexpectedly lighter palette of soft pinks and rusty oranges echoes what we see in our Fall 2020 collection at Resonance. Fashion, meet flowers. Flowers, meet fashion.


Cate arranges flowers in her Stratford store.

 Cate Hishon arranges flowers in her Stratford flower and gift shop, Designs By Cate.

Building reciprocal relationships

It's not just Hishon's eye for unique colour combinations that makes us resonate at the same frequency. We also share a commitment to supporting local businesses, a value Hishon learned from her retailer parents in much the same way Jo did from hers.

"I was brought up to believe that we should support each other," says Hishon, whose parents owned a popular sporting goods store when she was growing up. She worked there, as well as in the family's restaurant in nearby Milverton, Ont. Her parents have returned the favour; they're retired now, but still active supporters of her flower business.

"My parents were always about supporting local business and family business. And even to this day, if I have a choice to support a local business, I do," says Hishon. "It's something unique about Stratford. There are all kinds of business people here who support each other."

A reciprocal local economy was always a good idea, but a lack of theatre-going tourists this year has radically altered Stratford's local economy. It's become more obvious to everyone that we depend on each other's success.

"There's been a real shift," says Hishon. "More people are starting to realize it can make a big difference."


Cate Hishon and Resonance founder Jo Gordon smile together in Cate's Stratford floral shop, Designs By Cate.

Casual, comfortable and colourful

Hishon is attracted to vibrantly coloured clothing that doesn't fade into the background. Just like her flowers! She especially loves casual and comfortable styles by Desigual, which is known for its colourful patchwork, intense prints and bright colours.

"I like adding a piece each season, even though it's a little more pricey," she says. "It adds to my long-term wardrobe, and I never get sick of it. They're not necessarily on a trend, they're more ... well, they're just what I love."

Pairing a casual but eye-catching T-shirt with jeans makes getting dressed easy for Hishon's days of flower arranging, meeting with clients, or making deliveries. She adds jewellery for a hint of sparkle.

 Left, Jo walks on the street carrying a bouquet. Right, Jo greets customers at the front door of Resonance, with a bouquet and a hand sanitization station.

Thank Mother Nature for flowers!

During pandemic days, we've appreciated Hishon's brilliant botanical boosts more than ever. Along with Stratford Blooms, another local flower shop we love, Designs by Cate has provided bursts of joy that brighten and beautify the sanitation station we now keep at our front door. 

Flowers lighten the mood when people enter Resonance to discover that things have changed since they last visited. To protect the health of staff and customers, we have been limiting store capacity to four shoppers at a time. And instead of propping our door wide open, as we once did on nice fall days, we now keep it closed and ask that shoppers knock to be let in. We also ask everyone to wear a mask and sanitize as they enter.

It's not easy to adapt to change. We miss the bustling weekends of the early fall season in Stratford, and we know our customers miss those days, too. But adapting to public health measures is the right thing to do for our community, so we're learning to accept it. Flowers have made it a little easier.

We're so grateful for Designs By Cate! 🌼


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