Launching a business is old hat to Carrie Fleck Walters, ’00. She’s always known how to spot a marketable idea and make it sell. Since graduating from Richmond, she’s started her own graphic design and branding business, as well as Blunt Objects, a successful line of products like posters, local artist prints, and a cookbook featuring Richmond-area restaurants.

But, her latest venture, Paper Rose, is by far the most personal. With graphic design, it’s all about using her skills and talents to help clients build their own businesses. But the nearly photo-realistic flowers are completely her creation.

Walters first started making paper flowers when she was looking for a way to work with her hands and unwind after a day working in graphic design. “I can’t sit still,” she says. “I can’t just watch TV without doing something. I need a side project.”

Walters looks to nature for inspiration. The allure of flowers stems in part from childhood travels with her mom, a biology teacher. Every vacation, Walters’ mom would take pictures of plants and name them. Now Walters tests her accuracy and realism by sending photos of her creations to her mom to identify.

Last year, she started posting photos of her handmade flowers on Instagram, along with a behind-the-scenes look at her process — and quickly gathered a following.

Requests to buy flowers and custom-made bouquets started flooding in. Even her former UR painting professor, Duane Keiser, told Walters that he was happy to see her creating art again.

The hobby turned into a side hustle and, now, a growing business. But first and foremost, they’re an art form, purely of Walters’ design.

“The flowers are my interpretation of nature,” she says. “There are no rules. It’s really invigorating.”

Her work is simply stunning in how realistic her pieces can be, but don’t take our word for it! Check out photos of her paper flowers in the slideshow above.

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