Rosemount florist celebrates 20 years of touching lives through the medium of flowers
Michelle Scheurlein's hands never stop moving while she reminisces about the past 20 years in her shop, Rosemount Floral, a circa 1800s building she owns in downtown Rosemount.
She fluffs white carnations, pulls the outer petals off of pink tea roses and twists wire through the flowers to make boutonnieres for a wedding.
From her shop, her hands have touched lives in Rosemount and around the world through the medium of flowers.
"We cover everything from cradle to grave," she said. Sometimes the occasions are happy, such as newborn babies and weddings, but other times she feels the tragedies with every blossom she arranges.
"You get to know people, then you do their funerals," she said. "That's the difficult part. I just did the funeral for a 17-year-old who committed suicide. One winter, five kids died."
Even the tremors of world-wide events have been felt in her shop.
After Sept. 11, 2001 when the planes were grounded, she was on the phone with a frantic bride-to-be whose flowers had not yet been delivered.
After the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, she couldn't get orchids because the planes were being used to ship bodies, she said.
A cold-snap in Israel delayed larkspur, a popular purple flower in Valentine arrangements.
The 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland kept her from getting tulips from Holland when the skies were too filled with ash for planes to fly.
To give back, she crochets hats for children in Haiti, recently shipping out 250. As she watches the devastation of Hurricane Matthew on that island country, she wonders if they'll be needing more.
In some ways, a lot has changed since she joined partner Phil Tobey Oct. 1, 1996 to make floral designs. In 1998, she bought the building, which houses four upstairs apartments and three businesses. In 2004, she bought Tobey's portion of the business and has been flying solo ever since.
Figuring the internet into her business model has been the biggest change. Brides used to cut pictures of arrangements out of magazines or choose from her own portfolio to decorate their weddings.
After the Internet, it was Pinterest pictures, some so photoshopped she had to explain to the bride that what she was asking for was physically impossible.
Before the Internet, she used to buy her flowers mostly from the U.S. Now, she gets a greater variety from all over the world.
There have been some learning experiences, such as inviting Internet middleman 1-800-Flowers into her business, only to cut them out when they ate up too much of her profit.
Or tweaking her marketing plan when customers first fell for the cheaper prices on the Internet and then tweaking it again when customers got fed up with the multiple fees attached to Internet purchases.
Costs have changed, of course. Scheurlein said in 2006 a dozen roses cost $14.95. Now she sells them for $32.95.
Flowers come in a wider variety of colors too, like blue roses and purple carnations.
"Carnations were originally just red and white," she said.
She hasn't felt the need to expand her showroom since most of her orders come in by phone. She said she'll talk to the same customer on the phone for years before actually meeting them in person.
She's changed too. Up until 2014, not just her hands flew about the shop, her feet did as well. But a tree trimming accident, which caused her to fall 20 feet on her back, broke her lower vertebrae and confined her to a wheelchair.
She missed only seven weeks of work and she was back in the shop pairing spider mums and gladiolas for a funeral.
"At first I hated the power wheelchair," she said. "People look at you so differently."
Her hands have taken a beating over the years. She's had three surgeries and feels a constant ache.
But she's not one to complain. Under her "Things to Do" heading on a chalkboard by her station, it reads, "Be happy."
With her husband, Merle, of 33 years, they raised two boys who sometimes come back during holidays to help with deliveries.
She's not promising another 20 years of business, but she'll keep going as long as she's able and then she'll hand it off to someone else.
"It's been a passion," she said.
In recognition of the 20 year anniversary this month, the shop is celebrating with $20 deals. To learn more or to celebrate the store's 20th anniversary, find Rosemount Floral on Facebook.