Flowers in Winter and All the Year ‘Round

Flowers in Winter and All the Year ‘Round

Rachael Smith Brown’s Fleur De Lis, Floral Design

Flowers are important—for how they can send caring messages, mark special occasions, uplift a mood, and transform a room.

The people who work at Fleur De Lis Floral Design understand this importance 100 percent. They see up close the many ways that flowers can make life better and more beautiful. Their varied customers include groups of all types: Realtors en route to open houses and financial institutions for closings. Guests on their way to dinner parties, in need of a hostess gift. Students going to prom. Families celebrating the joy of a birth, graduation, Mother’s Day, anniversaries, or other holidays. And of course, people planning weddings, from small intimate wedding showers to grandiose events and everything in between. Weddings are known for their lovely bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, chancel and altar arrangements, and reception banquet centerpieces.

Located at 460 Ocean Street, on Route 77 in South Portland, Fleur De Lis is close to the Cape Elizabeth line. Its customers walk in, make appointments, or go online to flowersinmaine.com or fdl@flowersinmaine.com

By whatever method customers contact Fleur De Lis, they find a dedicated team there. As owner since August of 2018. Rachael Smith Brown says, “We love sharing our knowledge and passion! We have an outstanding and diverse regular cast of floral designers, complemented by freelance artists, who range from occasional to seasonal to event-specific. We are all experienced meeting- and event-planners.” Rachael is also proud to note that they have achieved the Wedding MBA International Accreditation, awarded by the Wedding Merchants Business Academy.

Rachael says that, for her, part of Fleur De Lis’s strength is a feeling of being woven into a wonderful community. As an example, she says, “My daughter, Chloe, our doggo Sparky Boy, and three rescue house cats reside a half a mile down the road, on Waterhouse Road in Cape Elizabeth. Last week I was here at the store at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night, putting out trash. A client saw me, pulled in, and asked if there was any way she could purchase a plant for a friend whose parent had just passed. The answer was, ‘Yes!’” They both understood the human situation, in a way that speaks of treasured community bonds.

Fleur De Lis gives back to its beloved community in more public ways, too. Last spring, they donated many products and services to area nonprofits, such as the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Annual Seafood Festival, the Children’s Museum Gala, and the American Cancer Society’s Inaugural “Couleur: A Masquerade Ball” at The Masonic Temple. In June, they also donated the floral arrangements for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland’s Fur Ball gala.

Another aspect of Fleur De Lis’s being a local, community-minded business is that they source and shop locally themselves. During the growing season in Maine, they partner with local farms to bring the freshest local Maine color to the shop for their clients. As Rachael describes, “Everything in our portfolio, online and otherwise, was procured, processed, produced, and photographed here at our bricks-and-mortar boutique on Ocean Street in South Portland. We do not use stock photos and are not affiliated with fulfillment centers such as FTD and Teleflora. That being said, we often assist our loyal local clients with orders outside our area hand selecting a local flower shop in their desired delivery town.”

In the pre-COVID world, the flower industry would often be associated with large parties and events—exactly the type of gatherings most canceled during the pandemic. But Rachael says that 2020 and 2021 have surprised them, and they were able to remain open with zero furloughs or financial assistance. They made widespread deliveries, used curbside pickups, and were able to reopen the physical store, with precautions, in July. Last May, “Mother’s Day pivoted to Mother’s Month, since folks were unable to celebrate due to social distancing. Everyone wanted to send flowers this year!” While it was true that some weddings canceled, most people rescheduled and appreciated Fleur De Lis’s flexibility.

As Rachel says, with appreciation, “Here at Team Fleur De Lis we are lucky to have a bricks, clicks, and mortar ‘Fine Floral Boutique’ supported by our amazing community. Because of you, our strong network of customers, we do not fund operations with event retainers, allowing us to be accommodating in respect to revisions, postponements, even cancellations—whatever the future holds.”

She also gives a big shout-out to the people who helped with the company’s 2019 web redesign, which is standing them in good stead throughout the pandemic. Rachael thanks “fellow female entrepreneurs Kathy Allen at Greenlight Websites and Lauren Lear Photography for their unsurpassed quality, service, and patience,” saying, “The website was a labor of love.”

When asked how she got interested in floral design, Rachael relates how what she does now at Fleur De Lis has deep roots in her past. “This store has been my dream since my earliest childhood memories,” she says, when she would spend summers at her grandmother’s farm in Whigville, Connecticut. “Grams was a young widow who lived to be 96 years old, living alone on the massive rural farm for over 50 years. During the winter we started seeds. Peas were always planted in March. Spring and summer blessed us with fruits, berries, and asparagus galore, and year after year with delicious jams, jellies, honey, and maple syrup. Memorial Day weekend was when we planted lettuce, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, onions, and tomatoes. Upon harvest we would pickle, can, and blanch vegetables to freeze for the coming winter. We had a farm stand built by Uncle Al at the end of Gram’s drive on Main Street. Fall harvest was all about the squash and potatoes which were stored in the root cellar of her 1800s New England farmhouse.”

And, she continues, “Did I mention flowers? In spring there were symphonies of daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, pansies, and pussy willows. In summer, we had peonies, hydrangea, iris, gladiolas, dahlias, and delphinium. In fall, we had cat o’ nine tails, and in winter, holiday trees.”

The Fleur De Lis website flowersinmaine.com is online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their boutique is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., and Sundays by appointment. They deliver daily to 20 cities and towns in Southern Maine and others upon request.

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