Amidst the pain, chaos, and destruction that the Covid-19 pandemic brought, there were silver linings sprinkled throughout - and one of those silver linings was the return of people ordering flowers from their local florists in large numbers. While weddings and events were down (or nonexistent) flower shops were flourishing. From a national push to support small, local businesses to people just wanting to connect with loved ones by sending flowers to friends and family they could no longer see in person, it has been remarkable to watch.
So, when we learned about some exciting news for long-time Mayesh customer Tehachapi Flower Shop, we knew we had to share their story. Read on for an interview with Tehaachapi's lovely new owner, Sara Frost.
First off, congratulations on becoming the new owner of Tehachapi Flower Shop! Can you start by giving a short history of the shop, and how long it’s been a part of your life?
Thx for the congratulations! Tehachapi Flower Shop began in 1963. We just celebrated 58 years this January. We are located in one of the few buildings that withstood the 1952 earthquake here in Tehachapi on 107 South Green St. across from the Depot and the Beekay theater. I have worked for the shop since we moved to Tehachapi, CA in 2018. The shop has become a staple in our community. I have been overwhelmed by the love and support from the city and long-time citizens of Tehachapi. It has been a huge part of people’s lives - their first high school dance, their first love at Valentines, wishing their Mother Happy Mother’s Day, their wedding etc. The shop has served our citizens during these important milestones in their lives and the community wants the shop to now serve their children’s and grandchildren’s flower needs for years to come. I am so thankful I get to be part of people’s lives in this special way.
Remind us- how long has Tehachapi been a customer of Mayesh?
As far back as I can remember - which is three years. But I’m sure it has a long-standing history with Mayesh. The former owner had a good working relationship with the company as I will also.
How & when did you start in the flower industry and what is your background/experience?
Altogether I’ve been doing flowers for about 11 years. I am thankful to Loretta Hill for taking a chance on me all those years ago and letting me into her floral department at our local grocery store. She was a consummate professional who served many large clients in our community in Kansas City, MO. She taught me how to make an arrangement that stands out among the rest. After working with Lorretta for a while my personal business took off by word of mouth. One bride would tell her friend and that kept me pretty busy. I am thankful for Kandi Smith, the former owner of Tehachapi Flower shop for trusting me to manage her business and allowing me to purchase her business from her upon her retirement. It's a daunting task and I am humbled by this opportunity to now own a shop with so much history.
One super interesting effect of the pandemic, at least from our point of view, is that brick & mortar flower shops seem to be going through a bit of a Renaissance. Along with a national push to support small, local businesses, people also started sending more and more “just because” and special occasion flowers to their friends & loved ones that they weren’t able to see in person. What has the experience and navigating Covid been like for Tehachapi?
Tehachapi is a tight-knit community that thrives on “shop local.” It's very important to us. The shop was forced to close its doors for part of the pandemic. We abided by the local and state laws. However, we were able to operate part of our online portion of the business. We had to be resourceful in finding products. During the pandemic, people were pleading with us to send flowers to their loved ones who were sheltered in place. They wanted to let their families know that they were okay, and wanted to make sure that they communicated their love in a special and tangible way. Many events were rescheduled or canceled which affected many people worldwide. In spite of all of this, Tehachapi Flower Shop had one of its best years last year. We were there serving customers' needs in times of tragedy and heartbreak by providing flowers to families for our local funeral home. Flowers are our teachers. They teach us that beauty and design are not optional in our world - they are a necessity. I never want to live in a world without beauty. They also teach us not to worry. Flowers are not riddled with anxiety. They grow and provide beauty and splendor for us all. Making flower arrangements is an art form, and art and beauty are very much needed in our post-quarantine world. These were two things that gave people hope in the pandemic. With these convictions, we expect conservative, yet healthy, growth in the next several years.
Do you plan on keeping everything the same, or do you have some exciting plans for the shop?
Yes, I have some very exciting things planned for the shop! To start off we are keeping many operational things the same until we aren’t drinking from a firehose. Some things can wait. My desire is to service multigenerational needs. We have already begun to personalize the shop and make it look like me. My style is a touch of class with edge and sass. I am bringing my own artistic flair to the layout and design of our shop. One of the things I am doing that has been successful is upping our in-store game by having plants and some arrangements ready for walk-ins. It's important to me to have things “ready to go.”
What are you most excited about in taking over a flower shop?
Getting to use my creativity and interact with the community. My 3 children and my husband are a big part of my life. They love coming to the shop with me and hanging out. They all want to work for the shop one day. As I write this my 6-year-old is learning to clean out a bucket. That brings me joy. One day I want to travel and incorporate other cultures’ practices into my designs.
What trends have you been seeing in retail & daily floral design? What are people asking for?
I just had a walk-in asking for an arrangement. He said, “I need something for someone who is having a bad day.” Trends I’m seeing are things that are unique. I am really seeing florists brand themselves with unique installations and the product they carry in-store. I have some very exciting ideas for branding myself as a florist with in-store installations. I will keep you posted.
We never end an interview without the MOST important question of all: what is your favorite flower?
My favorite flower is a garden rose. I just love them. They open up so beautifully and are a great substitute for a peony. Another flower that is important to me is a marigold because of what it represents to me. There is a song by Third Eye Blind titled Wounded that speaks about a girl who experienced bullying. There are these lines that say, “You’re a marigold,” and “back down the bully to the back of the bus cause it's time for them to be scared of us.” The song speaks of re-blooming, and resurrection after tragedy. I have a degree in multi-cultural studies and have spent a great deal of time working with people with special needs and have learned a lot from my experience teaching in Africa and working with people from other cultures and backgrounds. I want our flower shop to be for all people. A marigold represents to us that Tehachapi Flower Shop stands with and supports the marigolds of this world.
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