Whether she’s doing missionary work or extravagant floral
designs for Cardi B, Catherine Wayman ’07 never stops growing
CATHERINE WAYMAN ’07 HAD GIVEN UP ON HER DREAM OF BEING A FLORAL DESIGNER IN ATLANTA.
She had packed up her apartment in a U-Haul and was driving south on I-85 when her phone rang. It was a prominent event producer for whom Wayman had staged a floral photo shoot several months earlier. She had a job for her. A big job.
“I told her I was driving to Auburn, but I didn’t tell her that I had given up on having an Atlanta-based business or that I was returning to Auburn to work full time with my mother in her floral business,” Wayman said.
Instead, Wayman turned the truck around and met the producer at a nearby Chick-fil-A where she laid out the details of the event. She wanted Wayman to design the floral arrangements for the 40th birthday celebration for Kim Zolciak (of the Bravo hit TV show “Real Housewives of Atlanta”).
“She was convinced I was the right designer to pull off the star’s vision,” Wayman said. “I was honored. And confused. And excited. I honestly didn’t know if I could pull off an event of that magnitude, but I decided right then and there that I was going to try.” Raised in Marietta, Ga. by Mike ’76 and Cathy ’75 Wayman, she always knew she would attend Auburn University. Her first letters were A-B-C-D-E-F, then A-U-B-U-R-N. She majored in hotel and restaurant management in the College of Human Sciences and set her sights on a career in hotel management. She landed her first job at Highlands Inn in Carmel, Calif., thanks in part to her uncle, Ed Crovo, a senior vice president
“It was a dream job at first and then it wasn’t,” Wayman said. “The hospitality industry is hard, working nights and weekends and managing unhappy guests and staff.” Even so, Wayman excelled and was offered a resort management position with Hyatt in San Antonio, Texas, quite a change from the idyllic California environment she had become accustomed to. But her heart just wasn’t in it. Even with a promotion, she realized this path was not what she had envisioned. She needed a break.
Over the next three years, Wayman explored several opportunities, spending time in Thailand with a ministry devoted to young girls who had been trafficked, becoming an operations manager for a sales training company in Atlanta and working as an event manager and floral designer in Birmingham, Ala. She took advantage of opportunities to study floral design in New York City, first with famed designer Preston Bailey, followed by time at the Flower School NY. It was those experiences that gave her the confidence to take on the Zolciak party. She was ready.
Jumping into designer mode, Wayman began her preparation. To stay organized, she created large spreadsheets for every design, calculating which florals to order, how many and where they would fit in the designs.
“I would do all this figuring—for instance, this wall will have 400 red roses and we’ll have 200 stems of peonies here and so on,” Wayman said. “It involved a lot of math and I was, like, ‘man, I thought I had gotten away from math!’”
Wayman had to hire, train—and trust—a staff to work together to execute her elaborate designs and do it on a quick deadline. “I can clip a rose, knowing exactly what angle it needs to be placed in the arrangement and intuitively see how colors go together without even thinking about it,” she said. “But where
She was convinced I was the right designer to pull off the star’s vision,” Catherine said. “ I was honored. And confused. And excited. I honestly didn’t know if I could pull off an event of that magnitude, but I decided right then and there that I was going to try.”
I struggle is teaching others how to do that. I really try not to drop people off in the deep end, but technique only takes you so far. There comes a time when you just have to ‘feel it.’ You have to be artistic. You have to be creative. You really cannot overthink design.”
With the help of her whole family and her small staff working out of an Airbnb, C. Wayman Design succeeded in a big way. “It was just gorgeous and I was so proud of everything and everybody who helped me,” Wayman said. “I could not have done it without them.”
Word of Wayman’s magnificent design work spread quickly and soon after that event, she was hired to do the floral designs for rapper Cardi B’s baby shower.
Giraffes, orangutans, trains and other designs—all made from flowers and greenery—were so impressive that Vogue magazine featured some of her pieces in their recap of the party. Almost overnight, Wayman had become the florist to the stars.
In August 2019, she came home to Auburn to design the florals for the grand opening of the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center. Lifesize figures of a ballerina, a violinist and an orchestra conductor, all made from greenery and florals, greeted guests as they arrived. At the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, a floral installation hung from the ceiling was made to look as if music was floating through the air. Each table centerpiece had a different instrument filled and surrounded with flowers. The event really pushed her creativity to new levels.
Life in the floral design business was a dream—and then it wasn’t.
COVID-19 hit. The need for extravagant floral designs abruptly stopped. No celebrity parties, no weddings, no large gatherings of any kind. C. Wayman Design came to a screeching halt. She had to furlough her staff and give up her studio. Depression crept in.
But remember, Catherine Wayman is a creative artist, and the time had come for her biggest challenge of all—to re-create herself. She reached out to an acquaintance who was a photographer in the movie and music video industry in Atlanta and offered to help him with set designs—for no compensation.
He jumped at her offer, but it didn’t take long for industry professionals to see what she could do. Soon she was being hired to create sets for movie scenes and music videos. She separated her floral design business from this new creative outlet, forming C. Wayman Production.
“The experiences I have had since graduating from Auburn have made me who I am today,”
Now that the pandemic is subsiding, Wayman is slowly moving back into the floral design business, being commissioned to do the flowers for rapper Quavo’s 30th birthday party and continuing production design for music videos, commercials, books and album covers.
Even though Wayman has stayed in the creative design business, her career has taken her in a direction she never saw coming. She is grateful for all it has taught her. Along her journey, she said, she has learned much about people, humanity and humility.
“The experiences I have had since graduating from Auburn have made me who I am today,” Wayman said. “They have given me a whole new perspective on people, whether it’s doing floral design for celebrities or designing sets for rap music videos, there is a level of humility in knowing that just because we have different backgrounds, it doesn’t mean we are all that different. In a way, we are all the same. One day you can feel on top of the world, and the next, be burdened with things not turning out as you had envisioned. It is just important to keep moving forward with faith, love and passion for what you do.”