January 2007

Flowers By Paula - Everything's Coming Up Roses

Author: Linda Hopkins

When Paula Brown moved to Bluffton two years ago, she traded her corporate career for a new life. Accustomed to the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., the former investment banker-turned-florist discovered the beauty and tranquility of the Lowcountry and the joy of a job that feels more like vacation than work.

Brown is the owner of Flowers by Paula, a small floral design shop located at Plantation Park in Bluffton. You might say it’s a real mom-and-pop operation, with husband, Dave, helping with deliveries and her 81-year-old mom stocking the shelves with a selection of new and used books. “I didn’t want to compete with the local gift shops, and there isn’t another used book store in Bluffton,” she said, explaining the slightly different twist on merchandise.

The leap from finances to flowers was not such a giant step for Brown, but something she had always had in the back of her mind, she said. Attending a Floral Achievement program while working fulltime for a corporate investment firm was a way to relieve the stress of the day, she explained. “It was so relaxing—such a change.”

After a year and a half of night school, she finished the course and began dabbling in floral design from her home, doing weddings, funeral arrangements and other projects for family and friends in her spare time. She started her local floral business in much the same way—working from home and relying on word-of-mouth to attract new customers.

As the news spread, she found herself inundated with orders last Christmas, running out of greens before she could complete them. Stopping by Plantation Florist to get the supplies she needed, she discovered that they had closed up shop. That’s when Brown began formulating her business plan. In February, she took over the defunct florists’ space, buying out their equipment, and starting fresh. “I did not buy the business,” she explained. “This is a brand new operation.”

What sets her business apart, she said, is the freshness of her flowers. Because she keeps her operation small, she orders flowers every week, and only as many as she needs. She takes pride in the quality and value of her work, keeping prices in a moderate range and always delivering the best.

Brown specializes in roses and stocks a good selection. “I just love the flower,” she said, pointing out varieties currently in her case: Wow, Eskimo, Gold Strike, Jade and Charlotte.

But roses aren’t always the right choice, she points out, often offering advice to customers, based on their circumstances and what they hope to achieve by sending flowers. Here are a few of her standard tips:

For hospital patients: Send a plant or a dish garden with a few fresh flowers and a balloon. When the flowers are gone, the recipient will still have something nice to take home and enjoy.

For funerals: Consider sending flowers a few days after the funeral. This is when the bereaved person can appreciate them more. And send something less funereal—more cheerful.

For weddings: Skip the altar flowers. You have plenty elsewhere. This is a way to save money, and you really won’t miss them.

For a love interest: If you’ve only had a few dates, don’t send roses. You risk spoiling her too soon or scaring her away. When a relationship is new, send something more casual, such as daisies or tulips or an arrangement with one or two yellow roses.

For getting out of the doghouse: When you’ve done something you regret and need to make amends, this is the time to go for broke. Get the roses.

Flowers by Paula
30 Plantation Park Drive • Suite 207 • Bluffton, SC 29910
(843) 837-ROSE (7673)
1-800-609-7170
www.flowersbypaula.net

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