Hadley & Ren Floral Co. helps a mother heal — and bloom

Cynthia Tran is the owner of Hadley & Ren at SOCO's OC Mix.
Cynthia Tran is the owner of Hadley & Ren Floral Co. at SOCO’s OC Mix. She says working with dried flowers helped her heal after she lost her newborn daughter.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Floral designer Cynthia Tran works exclusively with dried florals.

“I dabbled with fresh flowers quite a bit,” said Tran, “but I came back and realized that it’s not for me.”

Tran is the owner and principal-designer behind Hadley & Ren Floral Co., a dried floral shop inside SOCO’s OC Mix in Costa Mesa.

“Our floral shop is a little bit different than the traditional floral shop,” said Tran. “We specialize in only dried and preserved florals, so all of the arrangements and designs you are going to see are going to last.”

Hadley & Ren at SOCO's OC Mix in Costa Mesa specializes in dried flowers.
Hadley & Ren at SOCO’s OC Mix in Costa Mesa specializes in dried flowers.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Tran said the average shelf-life of dried florals is three to five years, but she has seen them last even longer.

The dried florals of today are not the flower power arrangements of the ’60s and ’70s.

“We give a lot of life to our designs, it is colorful, it is vibrant, it is romantic,” said Tran. “I feel like dried florals have the stigma of being overly bohemian or rustic or dull, and we are really breaking that stigma.”

While Tran’s designs are full of life, she came to flower arranging from a place of grief.

“I started Hadley & Ren in 2020; it stemmed from a dark place,” Tran said.

In 2019, Tran lost her youngest daughter to a rare genetic disease just four days after her birth.

“I was trying to stay as busy as possible just so I wouldn’t have to think about things and so I wouldn’t have to sit in it,” said Tran.

At the time, the mother of two was working as a retail merchandiser, but then the pandemic hit, and she was forced to slow down. So she began making dried floral wreaths.

“I started posting them on Instagram and was getting good feedback and soon I had a couple wreath orders,” Tran said. “Then people started requesting small bud vases and arrangements.”

Her business began to grow and evolve into filling orders for celebrations and weddings, and Tran started to realize dried flowers were helping her to heal.

Dried flowers at Hadley & Ren at SOCO's OC Mix.
Dried flowers at Hadley & Ren at SOCO’s OC Mix.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“Why I resonate with dried flowers so much is because they hold memory,” said Tran. “That was what helped me cope and grieve. My arrangements were helping other people celebrate, whether it be for a wedding, birthday or anniversary or even to grieve. I have made sympathy pieces, but knowing that they can hold onto it and remember what this was given for, that helped me heal so much. Knowing that I was a part of that story or process.”

Tran eventually needed a shop and landed at SOCO’s OC Mix. She said when she opened the space, she initially felt a lot of pushback.

“People were like: Retail is dead, everything is online e-commerce,” said Tran, “but for me, I feel like I thrive on one-on-one connection.”

Tran spends time with each customer that comes into Hadley & Ren and makes an effort to help them find what they are looking for or in some cases create it.

Besides florals, Hadley & Ren carries products that support local small businesses.

“A lot of the other gift items that we carry here, they are locally made,” said Tran.

Shoppers will find hand-poured candles from Irvine-based Never Alone candles, for example, or Bowman Ceramics, hand-thrown in Long Beach.

“And because I am also a mom, these are all mothers too,” said Tran of the creators of the products. “It is really special to me that I get to support them while also supporting their family, just like they do mine.”

Dried flowers and other items for sale at Hadley & Ren at SOCO's OC Mix.
Dried flowers and other items for sale at Hadley & Ren at SOCO’s OC Mix.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Other items in the shop, like books and journals, lean toward healing.

“Any other items that I curate, it is all geared toward self-help, self-growth and just a reminder that you are worthy. I try to make the space as welcoming as possible.”

Tran also uses her shop as a platform to help other entrepreneurs by hosting workshops.

“I partner with local artists and other small businesses, it is not just workshops that I lead,” said Tran. “So when I partner with other small businesses, I actually don’t take any of their profits.”

For the month of May, Hadley & Ren will be hosting not only work on dried-floral-arranging but calligraphy, candle-making and engraving.

On May 13, Tran will host Mother’s Day floral workshops from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m. that will include instructions on how to create an everlasting floral arrangement with a focus on the ideal shape and size for a kitchen island, coffee table or wherever a mom wants to place it.

“And they get to leave with a keepsake,” said Tran. “I am all about memories. I got into this business to help others cope, to help others celebrate, to spread joy and be a beacon for others.”

Cynthia Tran packages an order for a customer at Hadley & Ren Floral Co.
Cynthia Tran packages an order for a customer at Hadley & Ren Floral Co.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)