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In time for Father’s Day, actress-producer Abigail Spencer’s County Line Florals flower-delivery service has opened its first retail space at Free Market, a new collective of shops in Playa Vista. The collective, owned by Alchemy Works and Apolis founders Raan and Lindsay Parton, also includes Jeni’s Ice Cream, Loqui restaurant, Heyday skincare, hatmaker Teressa Foglia and the Studio C boutique.
When Spencer spotted what looked like a greenhouse at the site, she knew it was meant to be and called upon design firm Maneuverworks to collaborate on building out County Line Florals’ roughly 1,000-square-foot new home.
“We are creating a space that people will want to hang out at,” Spencer says of the shop, which will feature a “florista bar.” All bouquets (from $65) are predesigned and listed on an iPad menu. “You can go around Free Market, get a glass of wine or some ice cream, and then sit back at the bar and watch your florista make your creation. It’s a good date night.”
The store will also have a branch and floral delivery service (with memberships ranging from $229 to $449 per month for bi-weekly and weekly service); a plant pool with a selection of pre-potted indoor plants displayed in an Italian countryside-inspired rock pool; concierge custom designs; and “florista’s choice,” the latter of which “is like Sugarfish: Trust us,” she explains.
“Everything is curated,” she says. “It’ll be the first florista bar, plant pool and design space to take the overwhelm out of flowers, to bring in an educational component, and to also make design an essence.”
Spencer (Rebel, Suits) launched County Line Florals as a mobile flower truck and subscription service last year.
The company is an homage to her late dad, surf legend Yancy Spencer, who died 10 years ago while visiting her for Valentine’s Day.
“The last day of his visit, he went for a surf at County Line in Malibu, one of his favorite spots,” she recalls. “An hour after he got there, I got a sudden call from him. He said, ‘Abby, I’m having a heart attack. I’m at County Line. Call 911. I love you and pray.’ Ten minutes later, he died. My life changed in that moment.”
With time, her grief turned to gratitude as friends and colleagues reached out. “The first person who had flowers at my doorstep was Jon Favreau,” Spencer says. “The outpouring of love and affection and support really touched me.”
Thus began Spencer’s love affair with flower arrangements, which led her to take classes in New York as she was “going through the long and winding road of grief and healing and recovery.” She adds, “When something crazy happens to you, that’s unexpected, that’s traumatic, that changes your life, you have a choice – to do something beautiful with it, or it can destroy you.”
In the years that followed, the actress kept looking for ways to combine her interest in flowers with surf culture in tribute to her father. “Right after my last show, Reprisal, I had an aha moment,” Spencer says. “I was like, ‘I’m going to take an old surf truck and I’m going to turn it into a mobile flower shop. … I bought a 1965 VW Transporter and got her in the shop to give her a facelift and started dreaming about County Line Florals.”
Then COVID hit. With productions paused, Spencer shifted focus to her passion project. She made and delivered 36 bouquets to friends. “I knew everyone would be at home,” she says, sharing that a week later she gifted 50 more, which allowed her to fine-tune the arrangements while spreading the word about her newly launched company.
Spencer and a small team then took her remodeled VW van-turned-mobile flower shop, lovingly named Betty (the term translates to beautiful woman in surf lingo), for a spin to Caravan Outpost in Ojai on Father’s Day last year.
“All of a sudden we had a business,” Spencer says, sharing she’s since collaborated with fashion brands Heidi Merrick, Janessa Leone, Melinda Maria, and Vince Camuto. County Line Florals also participated in the drive-in film premiere for Amazon Studios’ romantic drama Sylvie’s Love with Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha in addition to providing crew gifts and sets visits for Station 19, Grey’s Anatomy and Rebel.
Spencer says she and her team are keen to collaborate with companies and individuals. “It’s leaning into essence and storytelling,” she says, sharing she enjoys “meeting someone and getting to the core of who they are and then making or physicalizing something that represents them.”
Case in point: For writer-producer-director Krista Vernoff’s birthday, Spencer surprised the creator of Rebel and current showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy with an arrangement. “I built this bouquet that felt like her,” Spencer says. “She was like, ‘I didn’t know that I needed a bouquet named and built after me, but if I were a bouquet, that’s what I’d be.’”
Spencer’s unique approach also inspired County Line Florals’ ongoing Icons collection, which was created “to honor incredible change-makers in history,” she says. Among them are the Gloria (Steinem) for $139, the Stacey (Abrams) for $169, the Jacinda (Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand) for $169, and the Soul Sister for $169, the latter of which, Spencer says, “is in honor of my best friend,” and benefits Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell Foundation. “It’s my personal way to honor these icons and to tribute them,” says Spencer, who also recently launched Astro-quet, a line that is designed around the spirit of each particular astrological sign. “It’s a fun way to approach florals,” she says.
Over the last year, Spencer has driven Betty all around Southern California, from Montecito and Joshua Tree to Culver City, Venice and Highland Park. “Betty is a scene-stealer,” she says. “While I was doing all of this, I was wearing a mask. I would be pulling flowers and making bouquets and nobody knew it was me. All the time people would be like, ‘Oh, hi. Could you move out of the way so I can take a picture of your truck?’”
She said the sense of anonymity led to a number of intimate conversations with strangers. “We were on Abbott-Kinney and this man and his friend pulled over,” she says. “They ran towards Betty and he had tears in his eyes. He was like, ‘What is this?’ I told him about the concept, gave him a little background about my dad, and that it’s a mobile avenue for joy. It’s a mobile flower shop, but really we’re bringing joy. He looked at me and he said, ‘I just lost my wife and something pulled me out of my car. I’d never seen anything like it.’ … When I was out with Betty in a mask, I got to relate to people and I got to hear their stories, and that really was healing for me to relate to people more anonymously. It was very healing for me this past year.”
Spencer has three projects in various stages of development as a producer, and a few as an actor. Even so, Spencer acknowledges she’s experienced quite a bit of self-realization over the last year. “What I noticed in the pandemic is, I want my life to be the event and the occasion,” she says. “I don’t want to keep having to wait for the event and that roller coaster.”
With that in mind, Spencer has big plans for her business. “The hope is that we could lean into this model and take it anywhere,” she shares, explaining that the idea also stemmed (no pun intended) from her desire to have florals and branches in her own home every week. “I wanted this in my life,” she says. “If I were not doing this as a business, I wouldn’t ever have any time to do it [as a hobby].”
“What I love about florals is, when you send flowers, you are there at someone’s greatest joy or greatest grief,” she continues. “It’s the thoughtfulness of a surprise. The first day. The loss of life. Flowers are there. There’s something that I’m interested in about that energetic vortex of meeting someone at that moment, and that’s the deeper meaning of the company — because of my loss and how I was met in that moment. It’s to honor the highs and the lows and everything in between.”
A version of this story first appeared in the June 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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