Over the many decades of Robbie Fairchild’s career (the Tony-nominated actor has been the principal dancer with the New York City Ballet; he starred in the Cats movie and, on Broadway, An American in Paris), he has been lavished with more opening-night bouquets than would fill a stadium. Growing up in Salt Lake City with a wildlife-biologist father gave Fairchild a healthy appreciation for nature, but it was his time spent in London as part of the Original London Company of An American in Paris that he really discovered his second calling. “My flat was right next to the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers,” he says, “and I would walk by every day. I thought, This is my opportunity. I am going to enroll in this Academy of Flowers. It was so fun. I became friends with the ladies, I got them free tickets to the show, and they let me into different classes. I really found a strong new passion there.” Fast-forward to a few months ago. As the pandemic devastated so many industries overnight, especially those related to the performing arts, Fairchild had an epiphany. He began traveling twice a week to New York’s flower markets to scour the beauties that will comprise the arrangements for his newly launched bouquet business, boo.kay.
Fairchild enlisted his friend and fellow performer Adam Perry to work with him on creating arrangements, as the business has quickly grown since he started in early July. “I needed somebody who is both in the theater world and an incredible florist,” Fairchild says. “That was a no-brainer for me: It was my friend Adam Perry.” Fairchild can be seen below standing in his new apartment in his open living room/kitchen, where the pair work on a five-foot-long table. The duplex also has a larger table on the floor on the lower level, and soon there will be a walk-in flower refrigerator in the backyard.
The idea for his business stemmed in part from a message he received on Instagram from a fan’s mother, who wanted to thank him for inspiring her daughter to take dance lessons after she saw his performance in the movie Cats and asked if she could send him a box of flowers. “They were the most gorgeous flowers I had ever seen in my life,” he says. “Things were really bad in New York City, and it was 7 p.m., and I thought, I’m going to arrange these, and bring them to health-care workers. The look on their faces was just so wonderful.”
Each arrangement has a decidedly different character. “I kind of feel like when I go to the flower market in the morning, it’s like casting,” Fairchild says. “ I am seeing who’s showed up for the audition call and who is ripe and ready, and there is usually that one inspiration flower that dictates the whole entire thing. You find your feature flower and then you create a cast of other flowers. There’s so much about the process that feels theatrical.”
If you’re really lucky, your flowers might just get delivered by Robbie Fairchild himself. However, that tended to happen more in the early days. His business has grown now, and he is also going to auditions and working with dancers and choreographing and directing a film for Ballet X’s digital season. But working with flowers to bring joy, and to create work for his fellow performers is a gift, he says. “It’s beautiful to get to do all of these things at the same time. And it’s not like performing is entirely happening right now, but now I know that there are opportunities, there are options.”
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