Artist Builds Flower Business
Alicia Price Rico ’04 pushes boundaries and finds fame through Bows and Arrows Flowers.
As her 165,000 Instagram followers might attest, Alicia Price Rico ’04 has blossomed into one of the most influential floral designers of her generation. In Bows and Arrows, the company she founded with her husband, Rico is florist, entrepreneur and teacher — all while pushing the boundaries of creativity. Fueled by her artistry, energy and impeccable eye, the Texas native travels the world to serve brides who prize her signature aesthetic.
From her Lone Star childhood in Longview and Coppell to her undergraduate years at TCU, Rico grew up craving the chance to create. “I’ve always loved getting dirty, and some of my favorite memories were of making crafts with my grandmother,” she said.
Rico’s close-knit family includes her architect father and schoolteacher mother. Both nurtured their younger daughter’s can-do attitude. “I’ve always loved school, and I know how to hustle,” Rico said. “If I don’t know how to do something, I figure it out.”
That determination includes growing a small business, though Rico jokes about wishing she had taken a business class or two in college. Neither Rico nor her husband, Adam, saw themselves as entrepreneurs before launching Bows and Arrows in 2009.
“Alicia is one of those people who, from the moment you meet her, you can sense her incredibly unique spirit,” said longtime friend Susahanna “Sue” Lippa ’04. “Some people work to be creative, but she is one of those people who just is. It oozes from her. But she also works hard. She was always someone who was going to succeed.”
As a freshman in Fall 2000, Rico entered TCU knowing what she wanted from her undergraduate experience.
“I was all about doing something that I was passionate about,” she said. “I was going to try every tool in the studio art program, test out every piece of equipment, learn every new process that was offered.”
Though painting was her academic emphasis, Rico also took classes in sculpture, ceramics, printmaking and photography while earning a BFA in studio art.
“We were in one critique — that’s when everyone puts their work out there — and I was super impressed with the way Alicia could talk about how she used materials,” recalled Laura Phipps ’04, an assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. “She had done a painting on wooden blinds she’d found somewhere, and when she flipped them there was a totally different painting on the other side. The sensibility she has about materials has always been impressive.”
Added Richard Lane, director of TCU’s School of Art: “Alicia was always willing to speak up during critique. I always found her comments to be insightful and think the other students felt the same way. I’m happy to see that she’s thrived outside of school and brings her aesthetics into her personal life.”
For Rico, who minored in psychology, the art department provided an exceptionally nurturing environment. “TCU was a very positive community,” said Rico, who also relished her time as a Zeta Tau Alpha member. “The professors instilled a love of art museums and architecture in me. The other students were great to bounce ideas off; we had a level of trust with each other and made ourselves better.”
Career Takes Root
After graduation, Rico went to work for Art Ability, a Dallas gallery and art-consulting firm. She assisted interior designers in acquiring artwork for restaurants, hotels and hospitals while pursuing her own projects in her off hours.
“I worked on multiple pieces at once, usually with palette knives instead of brushes,” Rico said. “I’m not methodical, the total opposite of my husband, who can work on a portrait for a year.”
Rico left the Dallas job two years later and headed to New York City, applying on a whim for a position at a Brooklyn florist. Despite zero experience, she landed the gig after making an arrangement on the spot that dazzled the management.
“New York was crazy and exhilarating,” Rico said. “Everyone was so talented that it forced me to do my very best work.” She also met her husband there. Adam, who graduated from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute with a degree in painting, was producing photo shoots at the time.
A month after the couple’s 2009 wedding, Rico became pregnant with their first child. In short order, husband and wife loaded a 25-foot U-Haul with their possessions, bound for Dallas and the security of having her family nearby.
The couple also was chasing a dream. “Dallas didn’t have our aesthetic,” Rico said. “At the time, wedding flowers were tight, formal and controlled, which isn’t romantic to me.”
Rico felt Bows and Arrows could introduce Dallas-Fort Worth brides to “vines trailing down the body and bouquets that looked like they were picked from the garden, styles that were effortless and loose.”
The entrepreneurs opened a floral shop in East Dallas that also housed an art gallery and sold handmade gifts. “We wanted to see which part of the business was sustainable,” Rico said.
By 2011, the couple shuttered the storefront to focus on weddings and other special events. In October of that year, the Ricos hit the road to do the flowers for Phipps’ nuptials in northeastern Oklahoma.
“I showed Alicia this Modigliani portrait of a girl done in red and blue, and then left it all up to her,” Phipps said. “What she created was so natural and beautiful. She really pushed herself to make the vision come true.”
Rico credits her professors with helping hone her color sense, something clients such as Phipps and Lippa, who wed in Wisconsin in 2013, said sets Bows and Arrows apart.
“At TCU, there was this idea that you didn’t use color straight out of the tube, that you mixed them to create dusty French gray-blue or terracotta red, a painterly palette,” Rico said. “I try to do the same thing in bouquets and arrangements, using unusual shades and textures.”
James “Jim” Woodson ’65, emeritus professor of art, remembers Rico as a “standout student.” To develop a personal sense of color in his students, he encouraged a limited palette so that all color had to be mixed, the retired professor said.
“TCU really does have a terrific art department,” Woodson said. “We have produced an amazing group of students over the years. Alicia Rico is without a doubt one of them.”
The buzz about Bows and Arrows grew louder when Martha Stewart Weddings featured Rico’s designs in the magazine’s Spring 2012 issue. That year, the couple also traveled to exotic locales on behalf of brides. Often with daughters Dotty, now 7, and Pia, 4, in tow, the Ricos have done the flowers for weddings in France, Bali, Budapest, Mexico and Thailand.
Rico also began offering seminars and workshops on floral arranging. In mid-2015, she taught a class in Giverny, France, near Monet’s famed garden. She spent six weeks in Europe last summer, teaching and touring.
Back in Texas, the family makes frequent trips to Marfa. A wedding there helped fulfill another of Rico’s ambitions: to land the cover of Martha Stewart Weddings, which she did in Fall 2015. Articles in everything from Veranda Home to Town & Country have expanded the reach of the couple’s floral brand. But Bows and Arrows never advertises, instead relying on social media, editorial coverage, word-of-mouth and referrals.
Frustrated with a lack of earthy vessels in certain sizes and shapes, the Ricos make their own containers, sold under the Rico Terre label. Many nights, after their daughters go to bed, the couple spend hours working with clay on the kitchen island of their home in Highland Park; they had a kiln installed in their garage during the fall.
“Even in college I never had nice nails,” Rico said with a smile. “I’m always too busy getting my hands messy.”