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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Lunch with Carolyn Kruger

Carolyn Kruger has had a passion for flowers for almost as long as she can remember. She grew up in Brandon and, over the years, has worked at almost every floral shop in town. She’s spent 15-plus years in the business, and for the past two-and-a-half years has been running her own establishment, Carolyn’s Floral Designs, at 726–18th Street in the Thomas Mall.

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Carolyn Kruger has had a passion for flowers for almost as long as she can remember. She grew up in Brandon and, over the years, has worked at almost every floral shop in town. She’s spent 15-plus years in the business, and for the past two-and-a-half years has been running her own establishment, Carolyn’s Floral Designs, at 726–18th Street in the Thomas Mall.

What inspired you to want to set up your own business?

Well, I started working part-time during the busy floral holidays for Foster’s Floral Fashions. And I watched the wonderful things that Cec (Foster) and Eileen, made, and I said, ‘I want to do that.’

And it was such a fun place to work, too. Because people are generally happy and in a good mood when they work with flowers. And I think, too, personalities of people in the floral industry are very positive.

I presume that’s because what you’re working with is growing and alive.

Right! And working with flowers is therapeutic in itself. I mean, you really can’t be in a bad mood when you work with flowers.

I suppose! And the aroma and the delicate beauty, or the dramatic beauty, I guess in some cases, is inspiring.

Oh, it is! You can be very creative if people allow you to do whatever you like. That’s the most fun.

And what’s your favourite thing to do?

I like doing more floral art, which is different than traditional floral arrangements.

Tell me — that’s sounds interesting!

I guess it’s more personal — often it’s taking the customer’s interests into consideration and colours and textures and what they perceive as creative.

So it would be something that’s in a vase or container of some kind with little personal touches — for example, I’m into music and writing, so you might incorporate elements of those into whatever arrangement you might design?

You could very easily do that. Adding elements that aren’t just flowers — the sparkly hearts and the midollino — strips of bamboo — adding more creativity to it gives it a totally different feel than just five roses arranged. Things like that really add a little bit of flair without adding a whole lot of cost to the arrangement. Perceived value is greater with something like that than if you put nothing in it.

Valentine’s Day is coming up this Thursday I can only imagine it’s a big day for you.

Oh, it’s one of our busiest times of the year, besides Mothers’ Day and Christmas. I would say Valentine’s ranks as probably THE busiest day of the year.

Everybody talks about Mothers’ Day! I thought that was the big one.

Well, you know, the guys — if they miss flowers on Valentine’s… They can bring whatever they like, but if they miss the flowers, they’ve missed something special.

So what is it about women and flowers, do you think?

I don’t know what it is. I think because they’re frivolous. It’s something that, you know, isn’t like a frying pan. It’s something special — it’s not something you get all the time. It’s a luxury item. It makes every woman feel special — that they’re thought of.

I love arrangements, and dozens of flowers are beautiful. But I always tell my husband, ‘You know, you don’t need to buy a dozen roses. One will tell me that you love me and that you were thinking of me. Any thoughts along those lines?

You can appreciate a dozen roses — you can also appreciate one or two just about the same.

I often think, too, if you’re going to do a dozen, they all die at the same time. So why not do one a month every month? And then every month is Valentine’s!

That’s what we say — let her know she’s special every month — not just Valentine’s.

When we’re talking Valentine’s Day, is it primarily red roses?

The majority of the gentlemen who come in want red roses, which signify love. There are others who like the coloured roses because maybe their significant other has a special colour that they really like, so they’ll buy them.

We also have chocolates available for them. And a lot will often pick up a teddy bear and include that in their gift package.

I see some mixed bouquets — you’ve got some with calla lilies in them, and daisies, so it’s just sort of whatever a person is into?

Very much so — it’s whatever colours and flowers attract the eye.

There are some exotics you can combine into things, too, that are wonderful — I’m thinking birds of paradise and heliconia. I don’t know if you can get them…

We can get them — heliconia. We also do proteas — there are several varieties of proteas that are very striking. There are different grasses and foliage that all add a lot of interest to an arrangement.

Do you have a favourite colour? You’re wearing purple — is that a favourite of yours?

Yes. Purple is sort of the colour theme for the store and we all love purple flowers.

I suppose there’s no arrangement that’s too big or too little for you to handle.

No. We do everything from small little nosegays all the way up to striking grand opening ones.

You can make something small for the table just as special as something really big. It all depends on your container. I like to choose a container that’s suitable for the arrangement.

Do people balk at the cost? And I guess that’s why flowers are frivolous and luxurious because we’re investing in something that is going to die. But I’m thinking ‘investing’ is an appropriate word in a sense, because flowers, in this part of the country at this time of the year, don’t come cheap, I’m sure.

No, no. It’s supply and demand at this time of the year, so costs go up, right from the grower all the way through to the retailer.

So people are going into overdrive making sure enough roses are available?

Oh yes. You order several hundred to supply you for the day, and you want to take good care of them when they arrive, and process them properly and educate your customer on how to care for them once they get home as well.

Where do most of your flowers come from?

Originally, our flowers come mainly from Ecuador and Colombia. So they’re flown into Miami, then trucked in heated trucks up into Canada. They’re usually cut and they’re in our flower-brokers’ coolers within probably about 48 hours. It’s a very quick process. And then they’re shipped out to us as we order them.

The one interesting note on all of that is that Canada does have a free-trade agreement with Colombia and Ecuador, so we escape some of the extra duties and tariffs that we would get if we were ordering from Israel or Holland.

Now you specialize in wedding flowers, too. Is it because it’s creative and weddings are usually such happy occasions?

Well, it’s that, and it’s also more personal, because each bride is different. And you can add that personal touch to the bouquet of not only flowers, but style.

So trends. What’s the hot bridal thing nowadays, and what’s hot for Valentine’s Day?

Roses are always going to be the hot trend for Valentine’s Day. Probably next would be the mix of colours and flowers.

Weddings, we’re seeing a lot of purples and mauves this year and last year. What’s up and coming for the next year or so is peacock blue and slate blue.

There’s also a trend toward the retro — we’re going back to the ’70s and the ’60s. Peach with soft pinks. And baby’s breath is coming back.

I didn’t know it was ever out!

Oh yes — that old Victorian look is coming back, with not so much a tight amount of flowers — a looser look. A bit more airy.

How do you keep up with the trends that come and go?

I do try to improve myself by taking a lot of different workshops. It’s always good to up your skill level and learn what’s trendy and how to work with the new materials that come in, and new flowers. It’s always a changing industry

Back to Valentine’s Day. I’m sure you do your best for the guy who comes in here at 6 o’clock, but I’m sure it would be better to have people phone and order ahead of time.

Absolutely. Avoid disappointment — call early.

I know some men — some gay, some straight — who really like flowers. But very few men will admit to enjoying them. Do you see many women buying flowers for their male counterparts?

We’re seeing an increase in females buying for males, yes.

And what do they buy?

Oh, roses. They send roses.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 9, 2013

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What inspired you to want to set up your own business?

Well, I started working part-time during the busy floral holidays for Foster’s Floral Fashions. And I watched the wonderful things that Cec (Foster) and Eileen, made, and I said, ‘I want to do that.’

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What inspired you to want to set up your own business?

Well, I started working part-time during the busy floral holidays for Foster’s Floral Fashions. And I watched the wonderful things that Cec (Foster) and Eileen, made, and I said, ‘I want to do that.’

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