“Kim Fuentes is the floral designer and gift buyer at Ann’s Florist, Coffee & Wine Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This is her success story.”
“My dad owned a business selling indoor and outdoor plants. My mom, Ann, who loved flowers and had an exceptional eye, asked if she could have a corner of the store to explore selling flowers. Dad reluctantly agreed and built a partition separating her flowers from his plants. In no time, the wall was pulled down as flowers became the business. By high school, I was learning floristry from my mom and all of her designers. I learned old-school floristry, which has proved to be a good, solid foundation.
“I didn’t want to do the family business, but it has great benefits. When I was raising kids, there was flexibility in the hours, and I could bring the children to work. I discovered I was proud to be part of the family tradition and excited about making Ann’s Florist even more successful.”
“In 1992, we opened a second shop on East Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale, ultimately selling the original store. It’s a great street for neighbors and visitors to walk, explore and shop. We jokingly talked about a street coffee cart outside the shop to capture the evening crowd. My brother, Buddy Shaw, who embraces risk better than me, said we should go for it and convert a part of the shop to a full-service coffee shop. No one had restaurant experience, but we learned along the way. My daughter, Taylor Fuentes, who has training and experience in the hospitality industry, joined us two years ago and expanded our operations to include a bar.
“Everything is floral-centric. Our gifts and antiques support and reflect the core floral business. Our staff in the coffee shop and bar wear flowers in their hair, and our tables in and outside the store bear fresh flowers.
“The florist shop delivers 75 percent of our revenue and 60 percent of our transactions. However, the other elements of our business help drive floral sales. We expanded our Friday and weekend hours to close at 9 p.m. Lots of scheduling!”
“We saw that we were attracting a younger demographic because of the coffee shop. It gave us a cool factor, an edginess. People were attracted to walk in for coffee and a bite whereas they might walk right by a floral shop. When you think of it, there’s a staleness to old-style florist spaces turning out funeral and wedding flowers.
“We began to sell more flowers, particularly loose-tied bouquets, which millennials love. The florist workspace is out front so people having coffee or lunch can walk over and see our designers at work. It’s all experiential, and customers come for our coffee because of the flowers”
“The floral design we do is unique; only rarely do we get a basic order. As a result, we do not do online ordering. Our customers call or come in. We have built a great clientele over the long years, and they trust us with their work. We might have done a wedding, then a daughter’s bat mitzvah and then her wedding. We are growing our customer base as new people come in and see and love our floral style. We know that people are searching for special service.
“We have 25 full- and part-time staff to keep all of the plates spinning. Brother Buddy is the business manager and floral buyer; daughter Taylor manages the coffee shop and bar business; and I oversee the fl oral design and gift business.
“We have a contracted accountant and are working to up our social media game with a new contractor.”
“Well, everyone who loves flowers loves good coffee, good food, wine and music! So, we now have live music three times a week, featuring jazz, classic rock and the standards. We are a happy, happening spot!”