A born-and-raised Woodstock local, Anna Barbier has had three homes (four if you count an RV), and they have all had Woodstock addresses. She has been involved in Woodstock events, parades, races, etc. long before she can remember, and married Marc, her best friend and running buddy, whom she grew up with. The couple lived in Walton during their first years of marriage where they launched Marc and Anna Photo and Film, a wedding photography and videography company. Eventually, weddings became full time, and they quit their corporate jobs to move into an RV and travel the country for a year and a half before returning to Woodstock to put down roots.
The years that followed led them to start The Woodstock Flower Company, selling flowers to fellow Woodstock residents from their green and white flower truck. Photographing and filming for years can be isolating, but The Woodstock Flower Company adventure has allowed them to truly be a part of the town, which is something they dearly missed. Anna is candid and open about her journey and origin stories in this week’s interview, and we are delighted to welcome her to The Faces of Woodstock family.
What inspired you or led you to your current career?
My work is simultaneously photo, film, and floral. Although most in Woodstock only know the flower truck.
Marc and I, my husband, grew up together. He’s one of four boys. One of his brothers was a photographer. So, he asked me to come to shoot some weddings in college, and I loved it. I loved the chaos, I loved that it’s like problem-solving on your feet while getting to be creative.
So fast-forward to Marc and I married, he’s working a commuter, corporate job with his Data Science background and I’ve just started photographing anything I can. As we booked weddings, I knew I needed a second shooter, and it needed to be Marc. He jumped in and learned on the spot, all while working weekdays and now weekends.
We found that we love working on projects together, so we realized we could run a business together. After a year of working double duty, it was time to make a change for Marc’s work life and our sanity. We decided at the time that we would move into an RV and travel because with no kids, no mortgage, no dogs, we were the freest we would likely be in life. We said, now’s the time to do it because we have no idea what life is going to look like! So, Marc left his corporate job, we booked as many weddings as we could, and we just traveled the U.S., snowboarding, hiking, running, and photographing.
Over that time, Marc started reading poetry on agriculture and farming, and I would make fun of him pretty hard about it. But he just sort of found this rabbit hole of reading about people who really understand their sense of place, which is one of the ideas from Wendell Berry. Berry writes about the sense of place where we’re responsible for what’s around us, and we have a place that we are connected to, care for, and it, in turn, gives back to us. At the time, we had no sense of place because we lived in an RV. You could close the windows, and you were anywhere.
I’ve known Marc my whole life, and I knew this passion was very new for him. We both realized that he needed to farm. We didn’t know why, but we knew he needed to. Of course, there are all kinds of small farm movements and gardening movements everywhere. It just changed his perspective on the world around us, and we began developing our own sense of place.
We were still traveling and photographing, but we were ready to start thinking about home, and Woodstock is just that. So we bought a house that has three and a half acres here in Woodstock. The owners kept it up so well! They’ve been gardening for twenty years. It was a gift of good land, which we had prayed so much for.
We didn’t really have a vision for this flower business, but we knew what we loved to do. It’s so spiritual to plant a garden because you are committing to an area, to a place. We are definitely not proficient in any means, we’re learning for sure, but it all spiraled into place. We said let’s try flowers because we enjoy it and we have space to grow them. We knew we could offer wedding floral services as a part of our photo and film package, but we also had this old truck. The flower truck movement is in full swing, so we figured we would try both – the flower truck and wedding florals – and see which took off first. They both picked up quickly, and here we are!
We’re very thankful to have understood what it means to pour into a place, a space, and have it give back to you. Planting a garden takes work and dedication, but in return, you reap a beautiful harvest. That’s our goal in our work and life – to give to others so they can know they are a part of a place, part of a community, and then spread that to others.
What is your favorite restaurant in Woodstock, and what do you love there?
It’s El Ranchero. We’ve been going there since I was seven.
I like so many things, but I’m such a creature of habit. It’s either a bowl of chili with cheese and onions and a side of rice. Or it’s a side of grilled chicken with a side of bell peppers and a side of rice, and I just make a mash out of it.
How long have you lived or worked in Woodstock?
I was born here in 1990. We lived here my whole life, and then we moved into the RV in 2016 and bought our house halfway through 2017. So, we’ve been back since 2017. We only traveled for about a year and a half.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Woodstock? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Woodstock?
You should know Laura George. She is an incredible person. Laura founded Compass Prep and has mothered not only her many children but so many others. I grew up with their whole family, and she is just an incredibly strong woman who has stood faithful and reliant on the Lord through so many things.
One other very interesting person is Purple Jerry. He is a regular customer to The Woodstock Flower Company, and he wears all purple. All the time.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
I have a degree in international affairs, and so I took a lot of classes where I studied the in-depth history of one culture, one country, and Russia was one of them. It’s such an interesting culture, very closed off. Deep threads run through their historical identity.
What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
My favorite movie of all time is “The Three Amigos!” My whole family, we grew up watching it all the time. We can quote every word of it, literally.
What advice would you give a crowd of people?
It would be brief [laughs]. It would probably be, put your phone down, don’t talk so much, and go read a book.
What is something on your bucket list?
For me, it’s changed, and we’ve accomplished some things that we recently added. But I want to do a triathlon, like Ironman. That’s been a goal. I’ve run forever, played basketball forever, but I would love to do a full Ironman. But of course, the dream of all dreams would be to do it in Hawaii one day. But that is not so much a bucket list, but a very lofty dream [laughs].
What is your favorite music/ three bands you would like to see (dead or alive)?
It’s funny because I don’t listen to a lot of music. Marc and I, we love music, we played together for ages. I started off playing the drums, but I just don’t really listen to music, I listen to podcasts and books.
It affects me deeply, music. I can cry very quickly listening to anything. So I don’t often have the time to sit and have a cry fest, so I opt for other audio options while working.
But I’m a big fan of Nickel Creek, which is like bluegrass, kind of folksy. But then Steve Martin has a band called Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and they are incredible. And Patty Griffin, she is an old soul for sure. She’s played folk music for a long time, and it’s real emotional and dramatic and wonderful [laughs].
What current / former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Woodstock?
It’s Ace Hardware. My whole life, it’s been there. Ace Hardware feels like a landmark.
Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? Where in Woodstock would you have lunch?
What is your favorite thing or something unique about Woodstock?
We have really loved the Trail System. The way that it is laid out, we’re very happy with what it’s done for Woodstock. We lived at Walton, and we watched it open up right behind our door. It’s a very quick escape but still in the city of Woodstock. Because the people you see on the trail become your community. You can take in more when you get to see more of it slower.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Marc and I just celebrated six years of marriage, and the things we have done in six years – I would have never dreamed that we would be where we are or have done the things that we’ve done. But, one of the things that we’d love to experience, a new adventure, would be to have children one day.
(Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I will binge-watch tennis until my eyes fall out. The last time there was a really long match, I didn’t get off the couch the whole time. I just sat there contentedly for five and a half hours. I also very much love and enjoy reading classical Russian literature.
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Peace, stillness (speaking from not having children right now), and life – thriving and growing and vibrant life.
If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
Steve Martin. My mom and I have been fangirls for a long time. It seems like he would be one of the people who you’d meet that wouldn’t disappoint you.
If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose?
Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
Absolutely a housekeeper.