House of Flowers, a floral shop in downtown Bakersfield, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Currently putting finishing touches on a renovation of their space at 19th Street to commemorate the occasion, the owners are busier than ever.
(Jeran McConnel of Oleander + Palm is completing the renovation, which includes a shiny new handmade emerald green checkout counter with brass kickplate, an abstract painted pegboard that looks like a work of art with copper-accented hardware and clean, modern wall shelves.)
Just this week, things seemed to come full circle as they posted a new order from their very first client to create corporate gift baskets of local favorites like Dewar’s chews and Sweet Surrender cookies.
The shop has a way with marketing and often describes floral arrangements like quirky real-life characters. It’s often hard not to want to pick up a bundle of each option they post. Take, for example, “little miss Pumpkin Spice,” a colorful fall bouquet of hydrangeas, carmel spider mums, brake ferns, feathery agonis, blue thistle, purple carnations and fuchsia spray roses. They describe it as such: “Her Lexus is currently idling in the Starbucks drive thru. While she's in queue, her morning routine includes a little Taylor Swift, scanning all those decor blogs, and making sure this year’s Friendsgiving is better than the last. She's a sucker for fall.”
The orders just keep piling up. The owners are clearly on to something.
In light of this 10-year milestone (a big one for a small, family-owned business!), I interviewed co-owner Amanda Klawitter. If you chat with Amanda for very long, you’ll get a sense of their secret to the shop’s longevity. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Read on to get a sense of her passion for the floral arts, how she handles working with her mom every day, and why downtown holds a special place in her heart.
What inspired you to open House of Flowers?
I grew up in a family of business owners, so I always knew I wanted to own a business. I just didn't know what kind of business until I started working in a flower shop just after high school. They let me design a little, and something happened. It released this zen-like flow, where nothing else mattered except for that moment, myself and whatever I was designing. It clicked!
How long have you been open?
We have been around for 10 years now.
My mom would often tell us cool stories about growing up in the 1970s watching blues bands at Sudd's in Wall Street Alley. My siblings and I grew up downtown in the 1980s and 1990s, hanging out at my grandparents' antique shop, catching movies at the Nile and just watching all the cool punkers, ‘90s beatniks and Bako grunge kids at Chaos Coffee (now Riley's) on 19th Street. I think these memories confirmed that downtown was a hub for all things culture and creativity, and that just felt right for where we wanted our shop to be.
What has kept you motivated? Do you feel encouraged by the Bakersfield community?
Our motivation is really to provide an experience for our clients and community. Every meaningful connection we make, every supportive client we gain and every small business that we see doing their own thing and staying true to their art motivates us and continues to validate that we are right where we should be.
Has the rhythm downtown changed since you first opened?
We do feel like there's momentum downtown; it's wonderful. Not only is our community of business owners growing, our community of residents is growing, and that's exciting for us. I can't tell you how many regulars and neighbors we are connecting with daily, and it's more than a transaction, it's confirmation that downtown is super special, and people are getting it.
This rhythm has changed a lot since we started 10 years ago. When we began, we would go days without a walk-in off the street, and our business relied heavily on phone, internet orders and weddings. Today, it is so different. Downtown is much more energetic, and it's shaped how we work and what we offer in our store. We would have laughed at the idea of covering rent in one day of retail sales, but it's happening now, and we're so grateful to our community! Sometimes we walk out front, and we're just in awe of how busy everything is. It's a really special time in downtown Bakersfield.
Tell us a little bit about the floral arranging classes you offer. Why do you love doing those?
Our workshops have served as so much more than another way to make money. They've given us a way to connect with our clients and community on a more personal level. It's inspired us and pushed us to grow in ways we could not have conceived. Through sharing our knowledge and process, we are getting people excited and educated about what we do, who we are and why we're so passionate about flowers.
Tell us how it is working with your mom every day at House of Flowers.
We [my mom and I] pretty much fire each other every day. Working with family, we know how to push one another’s buttons, so we try to keep humor really close to our hearts. Our framed picture of Tom Selleck in the work room watches over every arrangement 一 that also helps keep things light!
What inspired you to remodel?
We've decided to remodel the shop because we're 10. Mom and I joke a lot that this business is like our child. And at 10, her personality is different, she's a little more grown up, confident and ready to express herself no matter how cool or “uncool” that may be. We just want the shop and our brand to reflect that.
Who is helping with the new look?
We've hired our talented local friend and designer, Jeran McConnel, from Oleander + Palm, and she's been a powerhouse! She's helped us every step of the way, and her talent is a real pleasure to watch. She's really the one making it happen and putting everything together in a pretty package, all tied up with a bow.
What do you hope for the future of House of Flowers?
We want a future of challenges, growth, creativity, fun experiences and a place for personal and communal inspiration.
Congratulations on 10 years, House of Flowers!
• Reader comments about my previous column, “Having pets did not prepare us for parenting”:
A reader in Orange County who is thinking about moving her children’s yoga and dance business here, and is excited about the energy in Bakersfield, remarked: “I’ve heard cool stuff about downtown lately!”
Shannon LaBare of Purveyor House, a local company that provides creative consulting, brand development and design for small businesses, attended the overflowing children’s music and story hour at Cafe Smitten. She commented that there is a strong need for more kid-friendly options downtown, especially those that cater to the young, discerning family.
• The Avett Brothers announced they will perform at Rabobank Arena on March 27, 2018. This group has been around for over a decade, and they just seem to get better with time.
• My personal favorite fall breakfast of pumpkin pancakes (with pecan butter topping) is back at 24th Street Café. To beat the rush, go on a weekday morning.
• Killer Poke opened last week at 1002 19th St., and the reviews so far are positive. I’ll be by soon to try one of their make-you-own bowls with tataki sauce for lunch.
Anna Smith writes a weekly column about downtown Bakersfield. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.