Editor’s note: Roaring Fork Back to Life profiles businesses that have sprung back amid the pandemic. To be considered for a profile, please contact interim editor Madeleine Osberger at email@example.com
After dissolving her wedding and events business, managing partner Keegan Amit joined Mountain Flowers of Aspen in May; she and founder Wendy Blakeslee joined forces to weather COVID-19 together. The premier boutique florist prides itself on designing beautiful pieces for every occasion, “spreading joy through flowers.”
ADN: What do you love most about operating a business in Aspen?
Managing Partner Keegan Amit: The sense of community; it’s just incredible. It’s just so wonderful to see how we band together, how we help and support one another. I love being part of that, and we have incredible opportunities; it’s not like being in a tiny town where you don’t get to see things. Community plus opportunity.
ADN: How has business changed in the past couple of months?
Managing Partner Wendy Blakeslee: I think that one of the things that we noticed is that people are a little bit wary of hosting a celebration. And so we’re seeing a lot more small events, so I think that’s how it’s changed the most right now. But there’s things that haven’t changed, and that is the fact that people still have birthdays and anniversaries and new babies. Flowers have always been really a great way to send a message to someone you love and care about. That’s still happening. The event part of it is the part that’s slow to come back to the scale we’ve seen in the past.
KA: We’re having a lot of small events — flowers are so important for ceremony and to mark rites of passage. We do lots of bridal bouquets for elopements but no big weddings.
WB: We’ve also seen some supply-chain disruption. The initial disruption that we saw in the supply chain seems to have leveled out. Many of our suppliers are also operating on shortened hours, so sometimes the communication can be difficult. But it’s been wonderful to have people be understanding and flexible, and people seem to be thinking ahead and placing orders so that we can take care of what they need.
ADN: How are you reacting to the new business climate?
KA: We’re all wearing masks and washing our hands, bleaching shared surfaces and tools. We’re also doing contactless delivery where we are putting the flowers down, ringing the doorbell and walking away, so that we’re not interacting with people face to face.
The store is opening with social distancing in place. Part of how we innovated to deal with this is we have grab-and-go arrangements. Instead of having people wait while we make an arrangement, everything is ready to go. We have slightly shorter hours so we are delivering all day. When the store opens, we have premade bouquets and arrangements for people to select so it’s in and out.
WB: We’re taking temperatures before we start a shift. There’s a whole checklist that we fill out, and if anyone has any of the symptoms they stay home for a week.
ADN: Have you sought federal, state or local aid?
KA: We received PPP money. Our landlords through the city of Aspen at both of our locations participated in the rent relief program.
ADN: What, if any, collaborations are you seeking in the local business community or with bodies like the Aspen Chamber of Commerce?
KA: We partner with the chamber of commerce. We’re looking at doing a photo shoot to give brides inspiration on smaller, more casual weddings. We’ll do a styled shoot like that. We’re talking about partnering with Bundles Gifts Co., which was started by Wesley Jacobs Brown.
ADN: What do you need to make it through the season?
WB: Great products, which is definitely happening, and we need all of our customers to support us.
KA: Especially as things slow down through the offseason and the winter season is looking less certain, we really do. We’ve been a local flower shop serving this community day in and day out. We stay open all year long. We want to be here to support our community and we need them to come in and shop and buy things, even little things. Every sale adds up for us.
ADN: What keeps you going?
KA: [In July] we had a gal come up from Denver. She had planned a big, huge wedding for September and wasn’t able to do it. They decided to elope over the weekend. She called, I answered the phone, and we made a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers that really reflected her and her event. She was saying, “Oh, my fiance doesn’t want to wear a boutonniere,” and I said, “What about this? What if we made it really simple with wildflowers and wrapped it in raffia?” She said, “Yeah, yeah! OK! That’s it!” That feeling of catching fire with someone who is so excited about something. It makes it worth it being there on a Saturday morning when all my sons are out hiking and doing fun things. It’s wonderful to see that come alive.
ADN: What’s one thing you want the community to know?
KA: We’re well-equipped to help because we listen and we care. We’ll take the time to sit down with someone and go over what they need and whether that’s something super grand for a beautiful party or something intimate just to say “I’m sorry” between friends. We really have the ability to tailor our goods to the situation, whatever someone needs.
I grew up here — I was born here. Wendy has been here for 40 years — longer than me, technically. We really want to see this community thrive and participate in that.
WB: And I think the fact that we’re all in this together is something we can really get our hearts around. We all need each other.
ADN: What is your favorite flower?
KA: Oh goodness! I really love sweet peas and hellebore.
WB: I love peonies, but I also love any flower that’s at its prime in any season. It’s too hard to have one.
Name of organization: Mountain Flowers of Aspen
Years in business: 24
Address: 103 S. Monarch St., Aspen (boutique) and 601 Rio Grande Place #121, Aspen (studio)
Phone number: 970-920-6912
Number of Employees: 6