Homecoming season is here — and for many young people in the rts of the South, that means homecoming mom season is here, too.
Now, however, mums — which started off as simple corsages, essentially — have become bigger than ever.
And it’s why photos of teenage girls wearing large decorative flowers continue to flood the internet year after year.
Here’s the story behind the “homecoming mum” phenomenon.
Homecoming mums are said to have hit the scene in the 1930s in the South — sharing a longstanding tradition in states like Texas.
Kisha Clark, the founder of Mums Inc., spoke with Acesparks Digital about the phenomenon and how it began.
“If you go all the way back to where it began, [these] were actually live flowers that evolved over time to a silk flower,” the Texas mum maker said.
This flower, normally given to a girl by her homecoming date, was a symbol that she had a date to the homecoming football game and school dance.
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Over the years and even decades, these small live flowers turned into huge, over-the-top decorative pieces.
Clark has been making mums for 20 years, using 1,700 square feet. in her Little Elm, Texas, home as a workplace.
Ten years ago, she started Mums Inc., an organization of mum makers across the country who share trends, tips and supplies.
A mum, at that time, would have a decorative ribbon, the homecoming dates’ names, the high school name, etc. and one fake mum flower positioned at the top.
“Somebody somewhere added a feather boa. I’m not even sure who that was … Now I can’t make the boa situation end.”
Clark said she began to see a shift in the types of mums people were ordering.
Clients wanted their mums to be much larger than before.
“We started to see a shift in design where people wanted a more custom product,” she said.
Clark said that cutting machines were new around the same time, which changed the game for mum makers.
As the years went on, the mum flower on the designs doubled to two, then three — and on and on from there. Customers also wanted stuffed animals incorporated, plus cow bells for noise, lights for fun — even feather boas for flair.
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“Somebody somewhere added a feather boa. I’m not even sure who that was,” said Clark.
“Now I can’t make the boa situation end,” she said.
And in case anyone needs proof that everything really is bigger in Texas, Clark said a mum she made recently took her three days to complete and cost over $400.
She also said the COVID epidemic, interestingly enough, has played a huge role in mum development.
“Covid changed our industry,” she said. “A lot of these people don’t want their children to miss out on the ability to have some sort of normality in their lives.”
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Clark said mum sales have only increased since the lockdown.
“It’s almost as if people made a new connection to spirit at school because they didn’t have it,” she said.
Tara O’Donnell owns Tarariffic Mums in Houston, Texas, and makes an average of 60-80 mums each season.
“After the chaos of the last few years, my mum orders this year definitely express each student’s personality,” she shared with Acesparks Digital.
O’Donnell said “themed mums” have been more specific this year, with one student even requesting the center mums resemble aw print.
“Whether the mom is in tears over her daughter’s senior mum or the student squeals in delight — knowing that I have made their vision a reality is a satisfying conclusion to the process,” she said.