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Coastal Style by Mickie

By NICOLE ZEMA
nzema@thewakullanews.net

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From natural and understated to grand and dramatic, inspiration for Mickie Cooksey’s designs flourish with every new aesthetic challenge.
The Shell Point resident has enjoyed word-of-mouth success as one of Wakulla’s premier floral designers and stylists.
Cooksey was a court reporter in the Jacksonville area for 24 years. A car accident broke her hand – a career-changing injury.
“I wasn’t able to gain my dexterity back for court reporting,” Cooksey said. “My finger kept catching.” She re-enrolled in typing classes to attain her old speed, but it never was the same.
“Oh well, there’s a reason,” Cooksey thought back then. “Then I thought I’d try something else. I applied for a holiday decorating course at a floral shop in Jacksonville. After a few days, the owner sent me to the floral department.”
Within a year, Cooksey was running the department.
“It was a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work,” she said. That was seven years ago.
Now Cooksey owns and operates Coastal Style by Mickie from her beautiful home in Shell Point. Her aesthetic mission is a far cry from her courtroom days parked at a steno writer.
“Court reporting is black and white – you sit there, listen to everyone’s problems, and then proof it on a computer screen,” Cooksey said. “It’s black letters on white background. So boring! I was wild when I got out of there.”
While Cooksey’s imaginative concepts may be wild, the final product is always polished and memorable. Some clients approach her with specific floral designs in mind, while many others throw out a loose concept and leave the creative  interpretation up to the artist.
“There are all types of different personalities that come into it,” Cooksey said.
While money is no object for some clients, many others have a modest floral and decor budget. Cooksey enjoys finding that balance between beauty and affordability.
“One way to keep costs down is using natural elements around you,” Cooksey said. “Local greenery can cut the cost for the customer because we’re using local product, instead of ordering through the florist. Herbs and spices are a way to go – it’s simple, inexpensive and it smells good.”
Cooksey is known for incorporating natural, local elements into her designs and elevating spaces into something fresh and original. Her designs include artful touches of shells and starfish, natural local greenery, translucent sea glass, spraypainted willow and leaves, driftwood, vines, and even citrus fruit.
“In my car I keep a bucket and clippers, so I can find stuff along the way,” she said. “I experiment until I get the right depth, or come up with the right colors.”
Her Facebook page, Coastal Style by Mickie, features hundreds of photos depicting her designs including bridal bouquets, centerpieces, wreaths, decorative accents, rustic signage, corsages, garlands, original gift bags, arches and the list goes on.
Cooksey’s willingness to embrace creative challenges is apparent in a masculine boutonniere designed for a hunter – fashioned around a spent shotgun shell incorporating thistle, equisetum and variegated pittosporum with a white alstroemeria stuffed inside and wrapped with gold craft wire.
While some jobs are intended to elevate a plain room, other assignments must measure up to the drama of a lavish venue. Cooksey has also proved that she can take on large-scale assignments worthy of “Southern Living” Magazine.
“I did one (wedding) at the Jacksonville Country Club that was featured in ‘Southern Living,’” Cooksey said. “It was absolutely beautiful. There was a huge, winding staircase that had to be decorated. It was longer than a football field from the stairs to the ceremony site, in a waterfall setting. They wanted flowers to look like they were flowing down the waterfall. It was absolutely fabulous, but a lot of work! (The designs) had to compliment the venue.”
Cooksey does have a team of helpers who assist on big assignments.
Stress is a factor. At another wedding, the bride realized that the color of the reception flowers would not work in the unexpected lighting scheme. This was at the last minute. Cooksey exhibited professionalism in a true make-it-work moment.
“I sent someone to the closest place an hour away to get the brightest flowers possible,” she said. “As the service was going on, we were re-doing the reception area. And as they were coming through the front door, I was working our way out the back. The bride was ultimately very pleased. The idea is to make the people happy.”
The entrepreneurial artist keeps her eye on the trends too.
“Paper flowers are the rage,” Cooksey said. “For prom, hair pieces... It’s a lot of work in advance. But I remember as a child making basic, crepe paper flowers, and this is just a perfection of that.”
She is also a realtor for Harbor Point Realty, assigned to the Ochlockonee Bay office which  covers all of Wakulla and Franklin counties. When she is not filling floral orders, Cooksey’s phone is ringing with potential buyers and completed contracts.
“I’ve been able to balance it all so far,” Cooksey said. “My hands are constantly busy.”
Her advice to brides and planners is to always have a “Plan B” when it comes to events.
“Be flexible,” Cooksey said. Sometimes weather and other unexpected factors can derail setup, and all the designs may not be used.
But Cooksey said the most rewarding aspect of any job is stepping back and taking in the finished product.
“Simple or elegant,” she said. “You make it come to life for them.”

COASTAL STYLE BY MICKIE
Email: mickie@coastalstylebymickie.com   Phone: 850-745-6636
Facebook: Coastal Style by Mickie   Website: www.coastalstylebymickie.com