Amanda Jewel Partner Website

Flower Power

by Molly Kordares

Whatever you do, don’t call Amanda Lankford a florist. She’s a creator…A designer…An artist. & everything she touches turns to bold.

“I’m a big advocate for my clients. I want their voices to speak through my designs.”

–Amanda Lankford, Owner, Amanda Jewel Floral + Design

LIKE AN ALCHEMIST, Amanda Lankford takes the ordinary and makes it spectacular. A sailcloth tent transforms into a fantastical garden. Fruits and vegetables become works of art. A woman’s hat blossoms into anything but.

Lankford is the creative director and owner of Amanda Jewel Floral + Design in Bozeman and her mission with every project is to help her clients color way outside the lines. “I’m not Martha Stewart,” says Lankford. “I’m my own person. I’m very avant-garde. And I’m not afraid to throw stuff out there and see what lands.”

What lands are one-of-a-kind masterpieces that push the envelope and steal the show. “I believe that I can truly see something special,” says Lankford, “but I’m also a big advocate for my clients. I want their voices to speak through my designs. I want them to walk into the room and see themselves.” Lankford’s unique vision has landed her events all over the country, but success didn’t bloom overnight. “I clawed and scratched my way up,” she says. “I worked so hard to get here. Blood, sweat, tears, all of it.”

Lankford grew up on a chicken farm outside Athens, Georgia. “I didn’t come from a lot,” she says. “I got my first job at 13 to help pay the bills. But my mother taught me two things early on: to never give up, and that failure wasn’t an option.” Lankford carried that advice with her like a torch, especially when it came to starting her own business.

“My love for flowers started in high school,” she explains, when she took a delivery job for a local florist. As she dropped bouquets off at hospitals, homes, and parties, she saw the reactions that came along with each delivery. “Flowers made people happy. And I wanted to be a part of that,” she says. So in 2010, she decided to try and break into the world of floral design with her own company.

There was just one problem. “I had no money,” she says. “I had $625 in my bank account at the time.” Lankford took half of that and used it to make four bouquets. She photographed them and posted an ad on Craigslist. Then, she waited.

“I wasn’t discouraged,” Lankford says. “I knew I was going to do this.” And sure enough, she got a message from the bride who would become her first client. “I still remember her name! Kendra Shell. She wanted seashells and bright lilies for her wedding.” Lankford would design seven weddings that first year, and double in size the next —all while raising a family, working a full-time job as a receptionist, and never borrowing any money. “I’m a bulldog,” she says. “I would go door to door, all by myself. I researched every venue in the city and reached out to all of them. I just kept following up, kept making calls, and every time I got a little more cash, I’d do another photo shoot.”

Slowly, Lankford built up a reputation in Atlanta, and built relationships with the city’s wedding planners and venues. Eight years after that first gig, she opened the doors to her first brick and mortar store.

“It was a phenomenal feeling,” she says. “I had three full-time employees, we did about 60 weddings a year, and we kept up at that busy pace.” Her company was even called an “Atlanta institution” by TableMade Events. But, in early 2020, Lankford started to feel burned out. “I had mom guilt about being so busy, and I wanted to put my family first,” she explains. So she decided to shut the store, and scale down to just a handful of events. What she didn’t know was that a few weeks later, the whole world would shut down too. “I got an entire year off,” she says with a smile, “and that is what brings us to Montana.”

Like her flower arrangements, Amanda brings an effervescence and joy to any occasion.

During the pandemic, Lankford, her husband Michael, and their two kids set out on a three-month-long road trip, visiting Utah, Montana, and Oregon.

“We spent a month in Bozeman, and we just knew,” she says. “There was something so special about the place.” They sold everything they owned, said goodbye to all their friends and family, and moved across the country.

“I was really nervous,” Lankford says, “but my husband was just so passionate about it, and that gave me so much peace of mind.” Throughout her career and her marriage, Lankford says that Michael has always been her biggest supporter, and has never left her side no matter how difficult things got. “He’s given up so much for me. He’s been my biggest fan every step of the way, and he’s helped me out so many times. He really is my rock,” she says. With his love and support, she knew she could take on anything.

In June of 2021, they officially became Bozeman residents. Lankford knew the city was overwhelmed with new people, and decided that her family was going to be different. “I told them, we can’t just take from this new community of ours. We are going to lean in. We are going to care for people. We are going to take care of the trails. We are going to show Montana that we care,” she shares.

“We spent a month in Bozeman, and we just knew. There was something so special about the place.”

–Amanda Lankford, Owner, Amanda Jewel Floral + Design

In Bozeman, Lankford used the same playbook that she did in Atlanta: she went after venues, she went after planners, she researched everyone that she should meet with. “I was older, so it was a bit easier,” she recalls, “but I still had a huge learning curve. It’s colder here. It’s windy. Everything has to be shipped in. But when I was starting out in Atlanta, I felt so alone. Here, there was an instant community.”

Like Leslie Lukas, of Wander North Events, who was one of the first wedding planners to meet with Lankford after she moved here. “I was immediately drawn to Amanda’s style and the vibrancy of it,” says Lukas. “Then after talking to her, I realized she was not just an artist, but also a businesswoman. It’s a very rare combination, and she’s got it. So I knew I could trust her with my high-end clients.”

Lukas helped Lankford snag her first Montana wedding in August of 2021, and the two have been working together ever since. Lukas says wedding clients in this part of the country are looking for a very specific aesthetic—something that’s timeless, effortless, and unique. “Amanda can do all of that at once, and also make it delightful. It’s a real art,” says Lukas.

After that first Montana wedding, business started blooming once again for Lankford. As she began to put down roots in Bozeman, she also made good on her promise to take care of her new town. She buys from local farms as much as possible. She hosts workshops and gives the proceeds to nonprofits like the HRDC and Friends of Hyalite. She also does pro bono design work for Heroes and Horses, Big Sky Youth Empowerment, and Prospera. “I just keep trying to show up for the community,” she says. “And I’ll never stop doing that.”

“I didn’t truly know what wildflowers were until I moved here. I thought I knew, but I had no idea!”

–Amanda Lankford, Owner, Amanda Jewel Floral + Design

In Montana, Lankford finds inspiration everywhere. “I didn’t truly know what wildflowers were until I moved here,” she says. “I thought I knew, but I had no idea!” Her favorite venue is Sage Lodge, in Pray, Montana. “The people who work there have always been so good to us; they’re so helpful and kind. And then the views… you just can’t beat them.”

As another wedding season approaches, Lankford’s advice to brides is simple: be yourself, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. “Throw out whites, throw out greens, throw out neutrals. We’ve all seen enough of that,” she says. “Don’t be afraid of color!” Lankford also wants brides to think big. “Weddings used to be about floral arrangements, but that’s over. Anyone can set out flowers on a table.” She says they’ve now evolved into productions. “They’re an experience, with big installations, and that’s where I thrive. I love doing things that have never been done before,” she adds.

Lankford is also thriving as a destination designer, for both out-of-state weddings and for corporate clients like Pepsi, Lululemon, Spanx, and Krug Champagne. “I never thought anyone would pay to put a floral designer on a plane, but boy was I wrong,” she says. She hopes this part of her story motivates other aspiring designers and woman-owned businesses who are just starting out. “I want to show up for all of them. I want them to know this is not just a hobby. Because for a long time, I didn’t see myself as an artist,” she says. “But this world of ours? It’s art. And you can absolutely make a living doing it.”