There is a long standing ‘joke’ in the flower business… did you choose it or were you born into it… because if you chose it you’re crazy!
I always thought I chose it. Later in life, after many years in the industry I found out I was one of many arborist, gardener, farmer and florist in my family. Funny how that happens.
I started out sweeping floors at a little shop in the Prudential Center in Boston when it was still an open air plaza. I had walked into the shop clueless that it was a week before valentine’s day. It was 1990, I was in art school and I needed a job. I ended up working there for six years!
I still remember my schedule – Tuesday and Thursday 3pm-8pm Saturday and Sunday for the whole day. On the weekends Ruth & I would rock out to the GO GO’s while I learned how to care for indoor plants, lovely dish gardens & make the occasional bud vase. We would have to keep the door open in the sub zero winter temps because it made it ‘more welcoming for customers’ to come right in. Later on Louanne schooled me on the ins and outs of making bridal work, creating arrangements and the day to day of running the shop. There was an unspoken one ring policy on answering the telephone… it would became a contest to see who could answer it the fastest. Many years passed there at the Plant Stand later known as Louis Barry… and I love every memory. I’ve met some of my closest friends, had some of my life’s funniest moments and gained an arsenal of floral stories that could fill volumes.
I watched. I learned. It gave me the foundation, a solid one, that was the springboard for my unexpected career in the floral business.
I am often asked how I got my start. People expect I went to a special school or that I waltzed into a shop and began cranking out gorgeous florals. I did time. Hard time. Sweeping the floor, processing flowers, scrubbing buckets, filling water tubes… all of the glamorous tasks that come along with working in a flower shop. I wouldn’t trade this ‘apprenticeship’ for anything.
Having had my own floral shop I found myself opening the door late into the fall, keeping a keen eye on prices from the vendors and double checking the invoices to make sure every last stem was packed in the box.
What I am trying to say is there are no short cuts. If you have a solid foundation then you can weather the storm. There have been many challenges over the years… some of which I will be sharing here in future posts.
A few weeks ago just before valentine’s day I was making a floral arrangement & realized it has been 22 years since I first walked into that shop that week before valentine’s day not knowing a damn thing… ( I learned how to process roses quickly, that’s for sure! ) I am proud of all I have accomplished and am grateful to those that made me sweep the floors, rock out to the Go Go’s, keep the door open and taught me the old school basics.
and then I moved to NYC…