Stepping into Lush and Lovely Floristry in Ohio City for the first time, your nostrils are bombarded by an earthy sweetness. It's an entirely unique sensory experience for visitors, but for owner Brianna Jones, it barely registers any more. This is the building where she spends most of her time, after all. When not on the first floor caring for her plants, two birds and loyal customers, she's upstairs looking after her children or studying for business classes at Cuyahoga Community College. Sleep is rare.
Lush and Lovely opened in October, and already Jones says the shop has built up a slew of regulars, many of them women in their 20s. Flowers, succulents and other green things are especially popular among the younger demographic, Jones says. Slide through any fashionable millennial's Instagram feed and you'll notice artfully posed women among green and neutral tones.
"Millennials in particular, we have a need to be environmentally friendly," the 31-year-old explains from a highly Instagrammable corner of her shop. "The plants bring you closer to nature, and there's this new spin on floral designs that makes it exciting."
Rather than tight bouquets, many young women (brides in particular) are looking for a loose, organic, garden feel. "It's the dahlias and peonies, versus roses and carnations," she says. "I think we're seeing a lot of younger people becoming florists too. It's not just your grandma's florists on the scene anymore."
This modern resurgence is part of what got Jones into the industry.
Growing up near the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania, Jones says she was always a "flower picker" and her mother always filled their home with plants. Later, after being stationed with the Army in Afghanistan (where the only flowers grew in the poppy fields), Jones went to art school in Georgia. Last year, when her husband also got out of the service, they decided to move to Cleveland, where her grandparents live.
"My husband and I had been talking about the possibility of opening a floristry shop, but it wasn't serious. It really only became an idea last summer," Jones says. "But when I make these rash decisions, I am all in. I did the same thing with the military. I just stopped in a recruiting office randomly and a couple weeks later, I shipped off to boot camp."
From the beginning, when Jones opened the shop with her sister Brooke Witt (who has since left the business), Lush and Lovely has hosted monthly workshops, teaching people how to make hip crafts like flower crowns and succulent tea cups. Jones also focused on keeping costs low (bouquets start at $20), while sourcing as much as possible from sustainable farms.
Now, nearly a year in, the entrepreneur says she feels at home, personally and professionally.
"For some reason I've always had a strong connection to Cleveland; since first visiting, I always knew I wanted to live here," Jones says.
"I was a nobody and I just opened this shop, and I didn't know anyone here, but people have been so supportive." —Laura Morrison