Utah Florist Wins Top Prize After Competing On HBO Max Show

Apr 18, 2021, 10:27 PM | Updated: 11:07 pm

LAYTON, UtahEveryone knows the gift of flowers is temporary. Even under the best of conditions, a dozen roses will eventually wilt, but for one Utah man, the fact that flowers aren’t forever is a big part of why he’s brought them into his life. 

“I know it’s going to die, and so all I can do is appreciate it for a week, and then say goodbye to it,” said Conner Nesbit while trimming some flowers in his office space. “If flowers aren’t a great reminder of how short life is, I don’t know what else could remind you better than that.”

Nesbit’s passion for building bouquets began when he was just a young sprout and a friend offered him some work.

“Do you want to be a delivery driver for this flower shop I work at?” Nesbit recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a ton of fun.'”

That job planted a seed and everything else wilted. He graduated from driver to designer, but his college career withered.

“I failed one of my finals and that ended up making me fail that class,” said Nesbit. “I just took that as a sign.”

Once he put all his petals on the table, life’s thorns grew to greet him.

“My mother was diagnosed — she was actually undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer,” said Nesbit. “So she did a winter of chemotherapy, and then right after Valentine’s Day, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.”

Nesbit’s treatment went well, but his mother’s didn’t.

“From there, I really spiraled into this dark, depressed place,” he said.

He packed up and fled to Oregon, cultivating a dream of escape.

“Moved out New Year’s Day and I was there,” said Nesbit. “New city, didn’t know a soul, I didn’t have a job.”

He eventually landed a job as a florist, his fresh start blooming into a new beginning.

“I got some help for my depression and I was getting some counseling for my grief,” said Nesbit.

A friend from Utah convinced him to return home to his roots.

“That’s when I decided, I’m going to do my thing now, and that’s when I created my own business,” said Nesbit.

Things were going well with his business, Leuca Floral, and then a message cropped up on his phone.

“They found my Instagram, just through all the hashtags you use just to sort photos: ‘We’re starting to cast for this new floral show on HBO,'” Nesbit said, thinking back on the message he received. “At first, I ignored it for a couple of days because there’s no way this thing is real.”

It was definitely real.

Nesbit went through several casting sessions over the phone and webcam before heading out to Los Angeles.

He landed a spot on a competitive reality show, now streaming on HBO Max called “Full Bloom.”

“The show was incredible,” said Nesbit. “I say life-changing and I don’t know how to emphasize that even more. It showed me I could do things with flowers that I didn’t realize I could do.”

Nesbit made it all the way to the final episode, where his challenge was to create a massive floral installation. He looked to his own life for inspiration.

“I had split it into two very distinct color palettes — a very live side and a very dead side,” he said. “And the judges, I think they made a comment: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this in our life.'”

The end result was something Nesbit never anticipated back when he first responded to that message on Instagram.

“I won!” he said with a laugh. “I won. They were so impressed by that room. Now, I’m the ‘Full Bloom’ champion, which came with a $100,000 check.”

For Nesbit, that money came at the perfect time — the pandemic had a dramatic effect on the events business, and his was no exception.

“Last year was really rough for my little business,” he said.  “I lost everything I had. I lost all my weddings. People kind of stopped ordering flowers, because everybody was kind of just staying inside and saving their money.”

Nesbit said he was even looking at stopping his business and trying something else, until the prize came along. Now, things are looking up — but despite flying high on the fragrance of success, he still knows nothing lasts forever.

“Summer is great because you went through winter,” he said.

If there’s one thing he believes in, one thing that never stops growing, it’s knowing that somewhere, his mom is always watching.

“I know she is,” said Nesbit. “There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s proud.”

Anyone who wants to see more of Nesbit’s work can do so on his Instagram page.

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Utah Florist Wins Top Prize After Competing On HBO Max Show