In a bright white room surrounded by perennials, patrons, and a peacock, Saratoga Springs' latest business owner Sidney Martin, along with Saratoga Mayor Joanne Yepsen, took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening his Simply Sidney Floral Design and Home Accents.
The storefront's grand opening was on Nov. 17.
The perennials are self-explanatory: Simply Sidney is a full-service floral boutique, where customers can buy a couple stems of roses, or sit down with Martin to plan out the water lilies for their wedding. The patrons? Seventy of Martin's close friends and family members, as well as some locals. And the peacock? It's called home décor.
Martin is a florist with a flair for home accents. He got his start in the business sweeping the floor of a mom and pop flower shop in Georgia, where he became the store owner's apprentice. He eventually moved to Los Angeles, where he first worked for the Beverly Hills Hotel; then, for a corporate event company; and finally, on film and television sets.
It would be in the latter field that he would flourish. His floral décor can be seen in movies like The Princess Diaries 2 and Monster-In-Law; and on TV shows, such as The Office and Desperate Housewives. After meeting his husband, Tas Steiner, the couple decided to move to Saratoga, which had previously been a vacation destination.
Since arriving in Saratoga, Martin's clients have included Salt & Char, the Adelphi Hotel, 15 Church, and Saratoga Performing Arts Center, as well as multiple other private clients.
Stephanie Collins, one of Martin's first clients, spoke at the grand opening ceremony. "Not only are you an amazing artist, but you have this amazing ability to connect with your clients," she said. "From the first time we met, you have absorbed my likes and dislikes and transformed that into masterpiece after masterpiece that makes our house a home, season after season."
The opening was a particularly emotional experience for the 49-year-old Martin, who was brought to tears at the outpouring of local love. "Please come in," he told patrons trying to squeeze into the crowded store. "There's just a gay guy crying his eyes out."
Martin couldn't be a better-liked addition to the downtown Saratoga business community. Cara Milde, owner of the Adelphi and Salt & Char, told Saratoga Living that Martin has a "sunshine personality," and an affinity for making others happy.
"I loved how someone would smile at me when I delivered flowers," Martin told the crowd, choking back tears. "I loved how a bride would hold me in her eyes and say thank you for making my dream come true. I loved how a son would come up to me and hug me at his father's funeral and say, ‘My dad would have been so honored.' So that's why I do it—to just make people happy."
Martin's ideal customer, he tells Saratoga Living, is someone who knows what he can do and will give him guidelines, but trusts him to create his or her vision. He expects having a retail location will bring Simply Sidney's business to the next level. Not only will he get walk-in customers, he will also have more space to work on larger projects for his existing and future clients.
Simply Sidney's wares will not only include Martin's florals, home décor, and signature line of candles, but also his husband's hand-made, locally sourced sweaters. The couple has been collaborating for 14 years, ever since Steiner planned events in Los Angeles and Martin decorated for them. They worked in a similar fashion on this year's Dark Faerie Tale Masquerade Ball, put on by SaratogaArtsFest. Of his husband's new storefront, Steiner says: "This is a huge Sidney thing, and I just happened to help with the selection of the home décor. He's wonderful and ... I've got his back. I love him."
"As I look around this room, all of you have made me so happy," Martin told those in attendance. "It is my sincere hope to make this day forward in your life even more beautiful."