In Full Bloom
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen Photography by Christian Lee
Melissa Florence, owner of Farm City Flowers in Beaufort, could be described as the perfect flower child. With her lively and charming personality, Melissa welcomed me into her lovely flower boutique for our time together. Her passion for botany was obvious simply by the atmosphere in her store. Soft natural light filled the space, highlighting her beautiful red hair. Melissa, originally from Ormond Beach, Florida, moved to Beaufort 18 years ago. “It’s crazy, I’ll usually stay in touch with my brides and grooms, and I see them growing families now, I just see how time flies when you’re having fun.”
Melissa has a family of her own—a wonderful husband, Warren Florence, and four children. She has two sons from her first marriage, Sprague and Samuel, and now two daughters, Sophia and Olive, with Warren. “When the boys were younger they were always running around in the store; Sophia is ready to start working in the store this summer. I told her it’s learning; it’s not just arranging the flowers, but hard work. It’s going to be a life lesson for her,” Melissa said. Warren also is a helping hand with large events. “It truly is a family run business.”
Melissa, just like most business owners, has standards for her business. She wholeheartedly believes the process of providing flowers for an event should be done in a proper and most conservative way. Basically, her philosophy is “field to vase.” She believes there is a responsibility to use pesticides-free sourced farms. “We want to be careful with what comes in our store. We use as much American product as we can, so we use certain flowers during certain seasons,” she said.
“I don’t just use the flower, I use the stems, leaves, everything. We try not to waste. The statistic for a regular flower shop’s waste is about 25 percent of the product they use; we have a less than 3 percent waste here. I believe everything was grown for a purpose, and all of it has its own beauty. I also like the challenge it brings to the arrangement, making me think how I can incorporate every piece of the plant,” Melissa said.
Melissa got her love of botany from a few classes at college. She has zeal for all flowers but some of her personal favorites are cosmos, poppies, zinnias and peonies. She considers these her stars—the superstars of arrangements, worked around with other flowers. “I also love how we incorporate supporting plants like kale into our arrangements, it adds that extra touch.” When I asked Melissa what type of event is her favorite, she responded, “All of them! Weddings, baby showers, even funerals, or just handing your significant other a bouquet of flowers, it’s an honor to be invited into people’s special moments. I get to represent people through something I love. We put our blood, sweat and tears into our work. We always ask ourselves first, ‘Would I want this? Would I want to be given this?’”
Melissa is giving back to Beaufort County along side her business. She asks her wedding couples (if they don’t have plans for the “used” florals) to not throw their flowers out after the wedding, but to give them back to Farm City Flowers. Melissa has created a program called Re-bloom. Re-bloom takes the used flowers from weddings, reworks them by putting them in small containers, and are donates them to local hospitals or nursing homes of the married couple’s choice in their honor. “These flowers aren’t just flowers; they add value to people’s lives. I believe they promote happiness and beauty, and I just don’t think there is enough of that in the world.”
When I’m not at the store: “I am toting kids around to different activities. It’s their time to shine; it’s their childhood. I’m there for them whenever they need me.”
The best feeling: “I still get butterflies handing brides their bouquets. I love it when she loves her bouquet.”
Favorite Part about Beaufort: “I love the water, it’s a constant reminder of beauty. There’s also an amazing community here—just relaxed. They don’t call it the ‘slow country’ for no reason.”
How to contact Melissa: Stop by the store at 1 Merchant's Lane, Suite 113, Lady's Island; Call 843-770-0112; Log onto: www.farmcityflowers.com
Follow Melissa: Facebook @FarmCity Flowers; Instagram @Farmcity_Flowers