The Great Discontent

The Great Discontent

Michael and Darroch Putnam

Putnam & Putnam

Darroch and Michael Putnam, partners in work and life, have found their niche in flowers. Based in the Lower East Side, their boutique floral design company, Putnam & Putnam, has designed arrangements for everyone from Vogue to the Smithsonian and caught the attention of flower lovers everywhere. We spoke with the pair about leaving their jobs to start a business together, the challenges and rewards of being an entrepreneurial couple, and their best advice for those starting out.

  • photographer
  • designer

You opened Putnam & Putnam together in April 2014. What were you each doing prior to that?

Darroch: My background is in photography—mostly fashion photography—and I was shooting for Barneys when this flower whirlwind took over us. Michael’s work was first noticed after I photographed his arrangements to share on social media. Now, I like to call myself a full-time flower photographer.

Michael: Prior to flowers, I was in interior design. I loved interior design, but the business wasn’t for me. I am a very tactile person, so sitting at a desk for the majority of my days didn’t excite me. After two years in interior design, I decided to pursue my other passion: flowers! After the first day of working with flowers, it was so clear to me that this is what I was meant to do. I was so happy after finishing that first job that I actually shed a few tears! It was a turning point for me.

You’ve been partners in life longer than you’ve been partners in business. Was there an “Aha!” moment when you decided to start Putnam together, and what made you decide to focus on floral design?

Darroch: We have always wanted to work together—for us, it just made sense. Because we’re opposite in some ways, we work well together as a couple; we compliment each other. We thought we could grow a brand together, and we tried a few things over the years, but we honestly had no idea that florals would be the ticket. It was almost out of nowhere that Michael began showing this incredible talent, which quickly became noticed. I think it was when we were first contacted by Vogue that we realized we could build a life doing this together.

Michael: Darroch and I have a wonderful dynamic as a couple, which translates perfectly into business. I handle the creative and Darroch is so good with everything business-related and is an incredible photographer. When Darroch first began shooting my floral arrangements, that was when people started noticing what we were doing, and the response was amazing. After our first fashion presentation, I realized that we needed to do this together as a team full-time; the process was flawless from start to finish, but it required both of our skill sets to pull it off.

Putnam flower arrangement
Photo courtesy of Putnam & Putnam; view more on Instagram

“We have the privilege of transforming spaces to create moments that our clients will remember for their entire lives. That is the most rewarding part of our job…” / Michael

What are the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of being an entrepreneurial couple?

Darroch: We spend every moment together. We’re not only a couple and business partners, but we’re also best friends. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. We used to do flowers from home, which was extremely difficult; our tiny Lower East Side apartment proved to not be the best floral studio—some buckets might have been kicked and thrown. We’ve been through so much together, and I’d say the best part is watching each other grow. And we’ve learned to laugh almost anything off, which is great, too.

Michael: The rewards greatly outnumber the challenges. That being said, though, there’s so much pressure when you’re starting a business. Sometimes the stress can easily get to you, but we’ve learned to push through it, especially when we see what our business has become. We have the privilege of transforming spaces to create moments that our clients will remember for their entire lives. That is the most rewarding part of our job as a couple, partners, and best friends.

You both have backgrounds in creative work and have continued in that vein. What advice would you give to a young person who is at the beginning of his or her creative pursuit?

Darroch: Take every opportunity that comes to you—you never know what things will lead to. Dip your toes in a bunch of different things to figure out what you like and what you’re good at—don’t get too stuck on your dream career or a single idea of what you want your life to be like, because most of the time these things aren’t what you expect. Also, move to New York because anything can happen in New York.

Michael: Just go for it! If it excites you, then try it out. You never know where it will take you. I fell into this business by taking a chance, and it has transformed my life in every way.interview close

About Darroch and Michael

Putnam & Putnam is a New York City-based boutique floral design company founded by Darroch and Michael Putnam. Specializing in editorial, weddings, and large-scale installations, Putnam & Putnam has had the pleasure of working with Vogue, Dior, Samsung USA, Random House, Target, The Smithsonian, Grey Magazine, and Dannijo.

Putnam flower arrangement
Photo courtesy of Putnam & Putnam; view more on Instagram

“We spend every moment together. We’re not only a couple and business partners, but we’re also best friends. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. We’ve been through so much together, and I’d say the best part is watching each other grow.” / Darroch