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Jeanne (Sause) GrahamJeanne (Sause) Graham
Full bio (from the Back to School 2006 issue of Classroom to Community Express)

As a student at Patapsco Senior High School (now Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts), Jeanne Sause planned to pursue a culinary arts career. Now, instead of creating art for the plate and palate, as the owner of Blue Sage, Inc., she designs artful floral displays that grace some of the area’s most sophisticated weddings and events. In addition, she and her photographer husband, Geoff Graham, have created The Bride’s Bouquet, a popular wedding book.
 
According to Jeanne, the change in her career path came when she needed a part-time job and noticed that one was available at a flower shop convenient to her husband’s workplace. “That made it easier for carpooling.”

What happened next is that Jeanne “fell in love with flowers.”

“I ended up going to floral design classes at Dundalk Community College and really liked it. I learned a lot,” she says. Then, laughing, she notes that what has made her successful now is “not following any of the rules” she learned.

Jeanne became a business owner when the flower shop she was working for went up for sale. She and a friend decided to purchase it and go into business together. Unfortunately a few years later, huge rent increases at Broadway Market, where the shop was located, forced them to close and led Jeanne to a job with an event florist.

“I discovered that this work is perfect for me. I am so detail-oriented.”

Jeanne opened Blue Sage, her own event floral business, in 1991.

The work suits Jeanne because it challenges her creativity and enables her to spend time with family, which includes six-year-old daughter Delaney and two-and-a-half-year-old son Griffin. The family travels to Holland each year for floral design inspiration and to make arrangements with suppliers, and Jeanne and her husband’s success with The Bride’s Bouquet has inspired them to begin planning additional publications.

“Our original idea was that floral designers would be inspired by The Bride’s Bouquet. We have found that the book, which is available online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, also is popular in bridal gown shops and as a shower or wedding present.”

On a recent outing, the family saw the book on the shelf at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. “It was the first time we saw it there,” Jeanne notes, “although it had been available through their web site. My daughter jumped up and down when we saw it, and we – discreetly – moved some of the other books around to make ours more prominent.”
Jeanne credits her success in business largely to her parents. “My parents were very involved. My dad worked all day in the standup steel mill and coached all of our sports teams. My mom stayed home and was always there for us, but was also an amazing potter and painter. Through sports and his life, my dad taught us to be self-sufficient. I think that combined with my mom’s artistic perspective prepared me to own a design business.”

Jeanne also notes some of the influences she encountered in Baltimore County Public Schools. “I only went to public schools for grades 7 and 8 and 11 and 12. In between I attended Catholic schools, because they were affiliated with the family church and because of their basketball programs.”

“I was surprised when I came to public schools with how much more I learned, how much more they had in the way of resources – so, in science class, for example we could conduct more experiments versus reading about them. I had great teachers, loved the diversity.”

Jeanne specifically remembers a friend, Joy, who had multiple sclerosis. “She inspired me a lot with her toughness and her talent.”

An art teacher, Ann Jones, also stands out. “She was awesome,” Jeanne says, “she didn’t give us assignments and rules. She challenged us to be inspired by the materials and our own imaginations…That’s kind of what I do today in my own business.”

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