The 19-year evolution of a retail florist with Kelly Marie Thompson of Chicago-based Fleur Inc.
I open to flourish in two thousand and two. So that means we're just about to approach our nineteen th anniversary so we're really excited about that It won't be a normal celebration obviously but We're still really excited Yeah i opened. You know back then. I was twenty two years old fresh out of college and studied history. And i had worked in a grocery store So that's where. I really learned my background on floral. And you know. I learned just things like how to pronounce l. strom area or burnham you but i didn't have a huge training or background on. It came to design outside of my art history degree and painting degree. That's just be influencing you all the time just that discipline just cover different medium. Now i do exactly and it's It's really shaped my understanding for color and depth and texture. And i've i bring that with me every every single design Yes i opened up I had a small storefront. I really thought we were going to be a bucket flower shop on because you know boutique florist. Were really thing that long ago at least not in chicago. There were a few but it wasn't as popular of business as it has certainly grown into. No i and i do want to ask you. What do you mean by boutique because Would you know that's a term that means probably a lot different you know definition than what it is today so yeah. That's a great great question. So when i when. I came up with the idea of opening our retail boutique. I knew i wanted us all bucket flowers sort of just hand ties. Ready to go But i definitely wanted to include. Heavy selection of gifts lifestyle goods Even back you know eight nineteen years ago. I always knew that it wasn't just about flowers for me. It was always about bringing people together and gatherings and parties so as we've grown throughout the years our collections have grown and our offerings have grown. And when i'm when i'm purchasing for our retail. I always have in the back of my mind. Like how can this assist in a gathering. How can this assist in communicating and being a part of. You know the other person that i'm inviting into my life. You know Every day so it's it's really You know obviously weddings and special events or celebrations. That bring people together but are boutique is equally as important for that experience as well. So in your product mix you have a more lifestyle items that you think kind of support your flowers and vice versa. Exactly yeah lots of serving pieces for dinner parties A couple of years ago brought in fine jewelry so we now sell engagement rings which is really special part of the process. Wow oh my gosh. That's a that's an endeavor was a scary thing. It was a goal for a very long time of mine. But it's always been a dream to have somebody start their entire process of getting engaged in having flair as part of that story All the way through the last dance when we're able to help service their floral to for their wedding. Oh my goodness so. Are you in the same retail space when you first opened nineteen years ago or have you found expanded on. Come out front. Yeah we've moved twice actually Our first location the building had sold so we had to shift out. That was after. I believe three years and then we moved. We were in our second location for ten And then the landlord actually had just kind of decided they were going to move into a different direction. And honestly at that time. I really thought about closing. It was not my decision to move and there was not a lot of Opportunity in the neighborhood that we were in that i saw that was the right fit for us so i had to make a really big decision of kind of go bigger. Go home If we wanted to continue our retail and special events. And i'm really glad that i kept going with it i. It came very close to say goodbye and to the retail side thing. Oh yeah i was really just. I had a big heart to heart and I drove up to michigan for the night. I'm not too far from us in chicago and drink a little too much wine one night and wrote down all the pros and cons idea. I woke up the next morning. Just ready to go just ready to sign the new lease. I'm so we've actually. We started out with eighteen hundred square feet and we now are between both are retail and our studio. We are thirty three hundred square feet. They're kind of adjacent to each other. Exactly what is it in chicago. The logan square neighborhood on and we've always been in that neighborhood. I was really drawn. I lived in the time when we opened and i was always drawn to it because events cultural diversity and very strong artistic community that both of those still