Whether celebrating a birth with a cheerful bouquet or sending a sympathies arrangement to mark a death, countless life events call for flowers. At Summerhill Florist, Colette Provencher puts thought into the emotions behind each order.
“Whether it’s a wedding or even a funeral, I’m putting my heart into that design,” said Provencher, a professional florist and owner of the store.
Summerhill Florist's friendly atmosphere and long-time community relationships set Provencher’s shop apart from large companies that sell flowers like Safeway or Costco.
“When I first got into this 15 years ago, there were young kids coming [and] getting flowers for their mom, then all of a sudden they’re graduating and I’m doing their graduation flowers, and then they’re getting married, and they have families,” she said.
Her presence through significant milestones in her customers’ lives has made them like an “extended family” and many affectionately call Provencher “the flower lady”.
“It’s exciting to have the ability to come alongside families in some way,” she said. “Buying flowers is emotional...so when they order flowers, I always keep in mind there’s an emotional attachment to the flowers. I’m the one making it, but it’s their gift.”
Provencher’s caring attitude toward her arrangements has resulted in a Silver Best of Airdrie Readers’ Choice Award in the Best Flowers category, which she’ll add to her eight previous readers’ choice accolades.
Provencher said her background was not initially in floral design – she got her start as an interior designer. Nevertheless, her training has been an asset when putting together her aesthetically pleasing arrangements, which she describes as “rustic and natural.”
“I really like a natural, pick-from-the-garden style,” she said. “There’s a cozy feel to the arrangements.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing the cancellation of many weddings and events, one may think the flower industry has seen a dip in business. But not Provencher, who said this is the busiest she’s been since 2016.
“Birthdays are still happening, babies are still being born...and people were missing their families,” she said.
Provencher’s bouquets have acted as a conduit for connecting socially-distanced friends and families during the pandemic.
“They could order from home, not leave their house and have it delivered to that person who also didn’t have to leave their house,” she said.
Provencher also doesn’t have to venture far when she starts her workday; just a short walk to her converted garage and she’s at her shop.
Previously, the business was located in a Summerhill Plaza storefront, but when Provencher noticed more orders were being placed online than by walk-in customers, she decided to relocate.
“Why am I spending all this money on a retail location?” she asked. “I have space in my back garage. I laid flooring, put in a walk-in cooler and a water system, hooked up my Internet and have not looked back.”
Working from home has provided her with more control over her quality of life, which she knows is often a challenge for business owners.
“I can close a little early, or maybe I decide I want to be open Saturdays,” she said. “It’s really having the best of both worlds because I love to be home but I also love to work.”