Above Image: Eothen Floral and Circle founder Katie Chirgotis.
In Greek, eothen means “from the east,” and its gentle sound conjures warmth, the colors of dawn, and ancient poetics. It also describes the origins of designer Katie Chirgotis, whose earth-driven aesthetic informs her life and practice. Originally from the east coast, Chirgotis has been crafting wild, expressive florals in the Bay Area for nearly a decade; in 2016, she launched her own San Francisco studio, Eothen. Chirgotis creates lyrical installations and arrangements for ceremonies, rituals, and spaces ranging from events to editorial to home; her interior design clients include Chloe Redmod Warner, Sean Leffers, and Tracy Simmons, who recently adorned the exterior of her Pacific Heights studio with monumental Eothen wreaths, and notes “Katie has an inherent ability to understand and bring my vision to life all while adding her own natural touch.”
Now Chirgotis has opened her first shop, called, simply, Circle. An apothecary for self-care, wellness, and green beauty, it’s home to her soulful curation of products for mind, body, and spirit. Foregrounding diversity and community engagement, it’s a deeply intentional space. Circle is in Santa Cruz, and the coast provides a perfect landscape to inspire Chirgotis’s nature-driven creations—which burst with iridescent shells and grasses, dried flowers and feathers, infused by sea and sun.
What inspired you to open a brick-and-mortar space at this moment?
Two years ago, I started to think about what I wanted in the next decade from a career standpoint, from a creative standpoint. A brick-and-mortar definitely came to mind, but the time and energy required was hard to come by with my schedule, which was often determined a year in advance. Then, when COVID happened and my days were wiped clean, the timing seemed right to just go for it. I still also have Eothen Floral, our events and home décor studio.
The new Circle boutique. Photo by Hannah Thornhill.
Wildcrafting, plant magic, clean beauty—all of these nurturing methodologies are coming to the forefront right now in such an aesthetic way. And this movement can be a platform for so many other issues.
I completely agree. I am currently enrolled in a community herbalism program with SOTHA (Scarlet Sage School of Traditional Healing Arts), because I believe that’s part of what Circle can be—a portal for many things. It’s definitely a flower shop, no doubt. But we’re also able to present the opportunity to interact with plant folks in many different dimensions: medicinal, physical, sensual, botanical, and energetic.
What are your criteria for the selection of products?
We source products with the intention of introducing people to different modalities of interaction with the plant world, first and foremost. Then we look at them through the lens of holistic wellness. We endeavor to practice intentional consumerism—supporting people who have wisdom and creativity to offer the world. There’s a spiral effect when you consider the whole life force of something you’re purchasing to bring into your space. From its inception, creation, interaction, and then it’s decomposition—the energetic exchange it requires. It’s almost like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching it ripple out.
Eventually, when it’s safe, I want Circle to be a place where the people who are making these products are able to come speak about their work, teach their methodologies, and represent themselves. Let there be hydrosol classes, and balm building, and flower-essence infusions! Because ultimately, I want the space to be a platform for those who need it. I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunities, privilege, support, and following that I’ve had, and now I want to pay that forward.
How did you design the warm and wonderful interiors of Circle?
I hadn’t designed retail space before, or renovated anything, so I solicited a lot of advice. I had a lot of conversations, I brought a lot of people into the space—watched them move around, saw where they were drawn to, saw where they wanted to spend time, even before I started the build-out. I think that, with any space, there are ley lines, or an attraction to certain areas. For instance, often within a home people are always in the kitchen. The sounds, smells, communicative opportunities—they draw you in. A shop is no different.
What was your material palette?
I made the decision to do an earthen plaster treatment on the half of the space not dedicated to work and storage. I’m very lucky to have a dear friendship with natural builder Bryce Ehrecke of Cré Natural Building. The world of natural building is very labor-intensive, time-intensive practice rooted in ancient culture. It’s beautiful and earth-centered. We did three of the 14-foot-high walls in a plaster mix of Lincoln Fireclay, lapis sand from Monterey Bay, water, iron-oxide pigment, and a couple of handfuls of hay. That’s it! A pile of friends crewed on to do it, from all walks of life: florists, artists, carpenters, raptor scientists. The meticulous, artistic woodworking was done by local design/build team, Galen and Justin, who were game for whatever concept I threw at them.
Over the past few years, I’ve been very inspired in my work by the desert, and I wanted the space to look as if the sun was traveling across a warm landscape. We move from a biscuity taupe to a goldenrod saffron yellow to the dusky rose of sunset. What I wanted came true: You feel very enfolded by the earth, the walls are indeed very warming, it smells lovely—a testament to it being made by people who cared about each other, and for the space itself.
And what a poetic notion to have sealed the space with the energy of your loved ones. They all put their energy into it.
Yes, they literally laid hands on it.
Would you also tell us about your exquisite wreaths?
Each custom wreath for home is carefully made by hand. Each is unique, using a variety of seasonal materials, from evergreen to lichen, collected cones, dried flora, feathers, and stones. In my earth-based faith, wreaths are representative of the cycle of the seasons and the life-death-life cycle. I think of them as very potent, magical things to have in your home.
Let’s talk for a moment about how we can integrate ecological and holistic mindfulness into design.
I am an enormous admirer of interiors and how design comes together. I’m a Cancer sun and a nester homebody to a T—it’s so important for my space to feel beautiful and energetically clear. I’m one of those people who has to clean their desk before they can sit down and write an email.
So thinking about “What is the lowest impact on the environment? How can we be as carbon offset or neutral as possible? What is the life cycle of these elements, starting from production and ending at the landfill?” are some excellent initial questions to ask.
I think there’s an overall desire from consumers and clients for mindful interior design. I can certainly say that my clients value beauty and value space. And the process of creating their homes becomes a representation of their character, their values.
Finally, how can designers commission your florals and source your products?
All are welcome to shop in-store or online, or shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer local pickup, delivery from Monterey to Marin, and domestic shipping of our wreaths and Circle apothecary items. If you’re coming in to visit us, our fresh flowers arrive on Wednesdays, which you’re welcome to put in-hand yourself, or select one of our seasonal bouquets, which I’m happy to put together for you!