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On The Edge

Mountain Majesty

Shonda Cunningham, AIFD, CFD, is at the top of her game

The West has always been a place of pioneers, and the word pioneer perfectly describes Shonda Cunningham, AIFD, CFD.

The head designer at Silver Cricket Floral Atelier in Park City, Utah, Shonda was one of the first Utah-based designers to earn the title of Master Florist. Now, more than two decades into an acclaimed floral career, the American West and the spectacular sights surrounding her remain Shonda's muse.

"It's impossibly hard not to draw inspiration from the Rocky Mountain region of our area and the surreal beauty that surrounds us here in Utah, but that is not the only place to derive inspiration," Shonda says. "The internet is full of chat rooms, videos, and photos of architectural wonders, gardens, fashion designs, and fantastic designers from all over the world. It's literally a visual playground for us as artists to reach across the miles and find stimulating beauty at our fingertips."

Combining the trove of inspiration and instruction that resides online with her larger-than-life surroundings, Shonda is well-versed in a unique mix of design styles and products for today's trends.

"In our neck of the snow-capped, resort-filled mountains, we are seeing tons of texture upon texture," she says. "It's all about Mother Nature and her ability to provide us with unusual beauty in what surrounds us. We are seeing lots of layering and mixing of natural elements along with metals, fabrics, and yarns. It's a wonderful time to be an artist in the floral industry."

"We're all about Rustic Modern design here," continues Shonda. "If nature gives us echeveria, rocks, colored glass, moss covered branches, or antlers, we use them here at The Silver Cricket Floral Atelier!"

Before she started working wit flowers, Shonda forged a path in the fashion industry. But she says working in retail management at labels such as Wet Seal and Pac Sun was unfulfilling.

"I knew there was something more out there," she says.

"I had a family friend ask me if I would be interested in managing a flower shop for a vocational high school - that was just enough to pique my interest. As soon as I took the position, I started learning all there was to learn about the floral industry."

Now, almost 25 years later, Shonda is happy she made the change.

"I have never looked back!" states Shonda. "I feel like the world of floral design brings me new challenges and opportunities to collaborate with other artists all the time. It is such an honor to present flowers to a new mother, bride, or widow. Knowing that what we do can visually create a huge impact on the emotions and success of any event or life-changing moment lets me take great pride in my designs. I try to capture each person's vision and express the desire with my floral art."