Meet Bay Meadows resident and the creative force behind the beloved brand that fills Instagram with graphic eye-candy and sweet succulent architecture, Cristal Chen of SweetBloomsCo. Before moving to Bay Meadows Cristal resided in sunny San Diego and worked as a Graphic Designer in the corporate world. Motherhood prompted a move to the Bay Area and as Cristal says, “Bay Meadows has been undeniably the right spot for me to continue to expand my art and share my design skills with others.”
“I love the open spaces, clean architecture and relaxing parks surrounding the community. I see Bay Meadows as a “creative hub” for businesses and also a relaxing environment for families. This affords an artist the opportunity to expand creatively and entrepreneurially.”
“It would be a dream come true to be right across from the new retailers and restaurants that are opening. I’m very encouraged to see the growth happening at SweetBloomsCo through the workshops and it fills me with hope and expectation that the space for art and design can happen. If I were to open a space, I would be looking for partners who are also interested in growing their business together.”
We were so impressed by all the lovely workshops and imagery, we had to know more about Cristal’s blossoming new business. Go behind the scenes with us in this interview with the artist herself…
How would you describe your artistic style and aesthetic?
A great question that makes me pause and think hard about my design. These word pairs come to mind: Gentle/Bold, Simple/Sophisticated, Whimsical/Elegant.
Then I’m often reminded about a quote by graphic designer, Milton Glaser, who has inspired my design work and in many ways influenced my way of teaching and interacting with people in my community. “You want to do things that have some relationship to your community, to your family, to your city, to your country, to the world.” In practice, my design is always a reflection of my community.
Does any of the aesthetic at our community inspire your sweet vignettes or workshops?
The main thing that inspired me to do what I’m doing now was the amazing community garden. You can say that is the spot where everything started! I faithfully began to plant my garden every season and, at the same time, I was meeting people there and sharing my ideas and creative thoughts. They would encourage me to start workshops and post them on Instagram. Before you know it, I was having classes twice a month.
What’s been your personal favorite workshop date?
I have to say that my very first ‘Watercolor Succulent’ workshop that I taught here in San Mateo is by far my favorite and the most memorable. It was the first workshop I did in Bay Meadows and it took me about a year of thoughtful engagement through social media and conversations to understand the community and how to best serve its people. It was a rewarding experience and it made me realize I can do this.
Who is likely to attend and do you have regulars?
Many of the attendees are either new or invited by repeat attendees. The Bay Meadows vibe has been so energetic, and during each workshop I meet new members of this community. The workshops bring a variety of new people from not only Bay Meadows, but all the way from Marin County to Pleasanton to Gilroy. These are young working professionals seeking a relaxing moment with friends, working or stay-at-home moms wanting a few hours away from the hectic environment at home (I can totally relate), as well as entrepreneurs seeking to learn about new ways to engage with people and connect with others about art and new business ideas. The workshops are open to all people, individuals and corporations. I also get special requests from corporations to help with team building exercises or collaborations.
3 things we can look forward to at SweetBloomsCo this summer/fall: This summer will be busy and full of fun and creativity around SweetBloomsCo. We will have two workshops per month with special curated giveaways for each one. I will be holding Kokedama making workshops in the summer. Also, by special request, I will be traveling down to San Diego to hold a workshop.
Favorite Succulent: I call it Baby Hippo but the official name for it is Lithops, living stone, split rock or pebble plant.
Favorite Design Quote: “The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire, and persistence. Talent without these things vanishes and even modest talent with those characteristics grows.” Milton Glaser
A simple moment I treasure is: The moment I’m done with cleaning up after a workshop, I’m holding and sipping a cup of tea in the front porch of my home and thinking about the next class I can bring to my community of makers.
Community-based design is the new black:
Four of my favorite things:
- Exploring San Francisco and the Bay Area every weekend
- Spending time with my three crazy, silly boys and that includes my husband
- Finding good boba tea shops
- Playing the guitar in my downtime
Conveniently located between San Francisco and Palo Alto in San Mateo, Bay Meadows offers new homes for sale and for rent within walking distance of Caltrain. Ease of transportation is only one of many reasons you’ll fall in love with Bay Meadows. Beautiful, new, clean homes sit among 18 acres of open space, which includes parks, a community garden, public art, ball fields, bocce and basketball courts and a new playground. All this just a walk from Whole Foods, Chipotle, Crunch Fitness, Hillsdale Shopping Center and more. Plus, we’ve got best-in-class purveyors, such as Blue Bottle Coffee and Tin Pot Creamery, coming soon to Bay Meadows’ Town Square. Learn more about what Midurban offers by following our Facebook page.