A Blooming Business
Since the beginning of time, bouquets have been go-to gifts for special occasions, from weddings to dinner parties to birthday celebrations. Yet even the most exquisite bouquets still have one major problem: they don’t last forever. Until now.
By Maggie Ledford | Photos by Med Dement
What Are They?
Chattanooga resident Darcee Nevin of the Paper Pimpernel Flower Shoppe has discovered a way to make flower bouquets that last forever. Made of sheet music, old maps, book pages, scrapbooking paper, and much more, her specialty flower arrangements include paper versions of every flower imaginable from carnations to spiral poppies. In addition to custom bouquets, Darcee sells loose flowers used for home or office décor and complete packages for weddings or other parties.
How Did It Happen?
After working for the Council for Alcohol & Drug Abuse Services (CADAS) as a counselor for five years, Darcee began to feel that it was time for a life change. It was then that she came across an “everlasting bouquet” while surfing the net one day on Etsy.com. “I was blown away by the first flower I saw,” she says.
Using her background in art, she began experimenting with making her own paper flower creations. “When I started, it really satisfied a creative craving,” she explains. “I was hooked. I felt like I had found my niche.”
Initially, Darcee was only able to make one type of flower, but now she’s able to make whatever paper-flower creation a customer wants. In addition to bouquets, she says frequent requests include corsages, hair pieces, cake toppers and centerpieces.
Darcee’s ascent into starting a business began when she first made centerpieces for a friend’s wedding. Soon, she was selling her creations at the Chattanooga Market, and this February, she opened up her own studio to customers just in time for Valentine’s Day.
How Does It Work?
Darcee explains that she works by appointment only so that her customers can be involved in the bouquet-making process. After an initial consultation about style, budget, and color, she crafts each flower by hand and carefully arrange them into a bouquet that is both “whimsical and practical.” Darcy also opens up her studio before certain holidays, like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
What Does The Future Hold?
Currently, Darcee’s goals for Paper Pimpernel are two-fold. First, she would like to become a full-service floral shop that offers regular store hours and delivery options. Second, she would like to begin a charity called “Books in Bloom” that makes popular children’s books into bouquets and delivers them to sick children, both homebound and in children’s hospitals.
And with major success in her first year of business and virtually no competition, she’s not afraid to chase these big dreams for her little flower shop. This fall, Darcy hopes to bring the Paper Pimpernel to new heights through Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects, and support from MakeWork, a local artist development initiative.
When asked about her favorite part of the new business, Darcee replies with simple eloquence. “Making people smile,” she says. And with such dazzling—and durable—bouquets, Darcee can expect many beaming faces in the days to come.