Florist Leanna Rinaldi conveys a warm, desert-inspired aesthetic in her unique floral designs.
The moon changes tides, transforms men to werewolves and inspires Leanna Rinaldi, the founder of Moon Flora Studio in Austin. “I just love the moon,” she says. “If the moon is looking glorious, I’m going to point it out.” As a former ballerina, Rinaldi spent much of her life in studios and liked the idea of her floral designs emerging from an art studio.
After dancing professionally for eight years, Rinaldi retired from ballet due to a career-ending injury. Dancing was her entire life, so the thought of what to do next was a terrifying prospect. It couldn’t be just any job, but a career that creatively fulfilled her artistic soul. “I had a lot of time to think while I was recovering from surgery,” Rinaldi reflects. “In that time, I decided to retire and start a business.”
But what would the business be? Rinaldi adored flowers. She found peace and rejuvenation in them. “I’m very drawn to nature, so all my creations are really influenced by it,” she muses. Flower power, one might say. Even while dancing, she was never far from this passion. “I chose to intern with a floral design company in Miami when I was with the Miami City Ballet and I just fell in love with it. It didn’t feel like work to me.” Rinaldi founded Moon Flora Studio in August 2020, the name perfectly encapsulating her passions. Opening a business during the pandemic is not for the faint of heart, but Rinaldi was tired of waiting. “I said, ‘You know what? It’s never going to be the right time. So I’m just going to go for it.’”
Rinaldi’s warm, earthy arrangements are inspired by the California desert, nature and the heat and color of Miami. She explains, “I like to pick unique flowers that many people don’t use and incorporate dried flowers, because they bring light and texture to everything. I like that you can reuse them as well.” Rinaldi strives to dismantle the idea of what floristry should be, sometimes including foraged sticks or leaves in a design. “I want to stay away from the stark, old-fashioned way of arranging flowers. From the typical ‘greenery and roses’ type of thing. I want my designs to be joyful and awe-inspiring.” To some, floristry is simply tossing spray-painted flowers in a vase. Rinaldi shows that floristry is a graceful art form, requiring the same precise choreography as a ballet performance.
When designing for a wedding, small gathering or special occasion, Rinaldi uses the client’s vision, colors and themes to bring materials together. “We’ll discuss the vibe they’re going for, whether that be rustic or classic, the vessels they’d like and then go from there.” The process of approaching each arrangement as a detailed work of art and showcasing floral beauty in unique, ethereal arrangements brings Rinaldi—and her clients—incredible joy. “I discovered that I love to put smiles on people’s faces,” she says. “I want people to look at the flowers and say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that before.’”
Rinaldi expresses gratitude that she’s always been able to do something she loves as her job. “I’m a very creative person, and I’m really glad that I was able to transition from ballet to this and not have to sacrifice my artistic side when I had to stop dancing.” Though no longer pirouetting, Rinaldi brings a ballerina’s grace and a nature lover’s soul into her exuberant and rejuvenating designs.