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Tomball Independent School District

Alumni Spotlight: Sandy (Cowan) Eckert (THS, '94) & Ashley (Carpenter) Jensen (THS, '96)

Sandy (Cowan) Eckert and Ashley (Carpenter) Jensen are Tomball High School graduates, Class of 1994 and 1996, respectively, and are current owners of Striking Stems Floral Design.

Striking Stems

SANDY (COWAN) ECKERT, Tomball High School, 1994
ASHLEY (CARPENTER) JENSEN, Tomball High School, 1996
Owners of Striking Stems Floral Design

“The beauty of flowers is forever captured in the way floral designers make them a part of our life’s memories. ” -Idalina Bertone

Sandy (Cowan) Eckert and Ashley (Carpenter) Jensen were fueled by creativity and a passion for floral design which led to starting their local business, Striking Stems, in 2008.

Proud graduates of Tomball High School, Eckert attended kindergarten at the old school on Cherry Street, first grade at Tomball Elementary, second through sixth grade at Decker Prairie Elementary, seventh and eighth grade at Beckendorf Junior High, ninth grade on Main Street, and 10th-12th grade at Tomball High School, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1994.

In high school, Eckert was involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, and played on a state-qualifying tennis team.

“I truly enjoyed high school and was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities,” Eckert recalls. “Some of my best memories were playing for the tennis team. My tennis coach, Rick McCown, really impacted my life in a positive way. When I think back on my high school education, I realize that we had some truly phenomenal teachers that cared not only about our education, but about us as individuals.”

Jensen attended Tomball Elementary, Beckendorf Junior High, and Tomball High School, graduating two years later in 1996. At THS, Jensen played volleyball and basketball, was involved in theater, was the class secretary, and in the National Honor Society.

“I really enjoyed high school,” she said. “The best memories made are the ones that involved friends, whether that was games or other extracurricular activities or hanging out together on the weekends.”

While they knew each other through family friends during their high school days, Eckert and Jensen’s bond didn’t really begin until years after high school when a common interest paved the way for their future career.

After graduating from THS, Eckert went on to attend Texas A&M University where she graduated and began working as a Sports Program Director for the YMCA. She also had a few short stints working for a cruise line, a local florist, and even as an ESL teacher for one year.

For Jensen, she finished at THS, attended Lone Star College for one year before transferring to Texas A&M University to pursue a degree in Political Science where she was then admitted into Law School. It didn’t take long for Jensen to realize that wasn’t the path she wanted to take.

“I always had a love of design, drawing, and creating since I was a kid, but at the time, I thought I needed to pursue something practical,” she said. “I realized that was not the path I really wanted to take so I worked in the wellness industry for a while before pursuing floral design.”

Eckert explored floral design when she worked for a local florist and had dabbled in the business having designed for a couple of weddings. It wasn’t until 2008 when her then-11-month old son got really sick, that prioritizing family and flexibility in her career became a true priority.

“My son got really sick and was admitted in the ICU and was later diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. At that time, I knew I needed a job that had flexibility so I could focus on his daily care.”

Eckert knew Jensen’s love for design and knew how creative she was after having designed for her wedding in 2005. From there, Jensen began doing floral design on the side for people she knew but kept calling Eckert for advice. 

So a common bond and a simple phone conversation between the two changed their professional career trajectory for the better.

“I called Ashley up and asked if she wanted to start a company with me,” said Eckert. “We came up with our business plan and hit the ground running. Striking Stems has been in business now for over 15 years, and we have designed for hundreds of weddings.”

Striking Stems’ tagline is “Flowers that tell your story.” For Eckert and Jensen, that is exactly what they do.

“Our hope is that we can provide floral designs that help our couples and clients show part of who they are because no two clients are alike,” Jensen said. “Sandy and I care about the details. One of us is always involved in every step of the design and set up process.”

While there is no storefront, Striking Stems is based out of Tomball and truly values the community connection both Eckert and Jensen were both immersed in while growing up in the area.

“It has been great owning a business in Tomball,” Eckert said. “We have a lot of connections with the community, and have found that people in the community who know what we do are incredibly supportive.”

Tomball is a special place for both of these hometown women.

In fact, their families were and are still extremely connected amongst education and business throughout the community. 

Eckert moved back to the area in 2012 when her husband was offered the area director job with Tomball Young Life. He now is a pastor for Bayou City Fellowship. Originally, Eckert’s family settled in Tomball back in the 1960’s with her great aunt Irma Hooks (Hooks Airport) in the area. Eckert’s grandfather was the Principal at Tomball Elementary when she was a kid, her dad served as an Assistant Principal at the high school in the mid-1980s, and is a THS graduate, Class of 1967, her daughter graduated in 2022, and her son will be graduating in 2026.

“Tomball is my hometown,” she said. “ Almost every memory I have of growing up is here. I never thought I would still be living in the same town, but when we moved back in 2012, I knew I would always consider it home.”

Jensen also has strong ties still to the community with her husband serving as a teacher and coach at Tomball Junior High, her dad as a local pastor, and her mom working at Concordia Lutheran in town. 

“Tomball is special because even though it has grown, it still has a small town feel,” Jensen said. “It is where I grew up. Our kids are growing up here. I have memories around every corner, and that alone, makes it special to me.”

Both Eckert and Jensen made the most out of building a connection with their community years ago. And through those connections, and a shared passion, they have strengthened their friendship and created a dynamic working relationship as leaders in the floral design industry.

“The best thing about work is working with Sandy,” Jensen said. “It is fun to be in business with someone who feels like family. We each have strengths in different areas that work well together. I always say I could never have done this without her nor would I have wanted to.” 

And for Eckert, it is about how they compliment each other and make the best out of every situation. “We have the same values. I feel blessed that we have had both a good personal and working relationship for so long.”

  • 2023-2024
  • Alumni Spotlight
  • Eckert
  • Floral Design
  • Jensen
  • THS