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How We’ve Survived COVID

How We’ve Survived COVID

This enterprising Canadian florist has not let the pandemic keep her down.

Flower lovers in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada looking for fun and distinctive flower arrangements with a “wow” factor need look no further than Funky Petals Flower Shop. Owner Laurie Trelenberg is a true craftsperson, creating amazing floral designs and adding positive vibes to each arrangement.

Surprisingly, Trelenberg hasn’t devoted her lifetime to the craft, finding her way to floral design only after getting bored with her first career choice. “I was in disability management for more than 15 years, but I was looking for something different to do with my life,” she says. “I realized I needed to make a career change and was looking for an industry in which I could explore my creative side while interacting with individuals and making a positive impact on their lives.”

Trelenberg knew she was creative and had a knack for design, so in September 2019, she purchased the 18-year- old flower shop, which had a good reputation in the area. “I purchased the business and haven’t looked back,” Trelenberg says. “There was, naturally, a huge learning curve, but I absolutely love this business and feel I am offering something unique to my clients.”

The store isn’t a typical flower shop, and that’s something that Trelenberg prides herself on. “Entering Funky Petals is like coming home,” she says. “We take the time to get to know our customers and listen to them, to understand what they are looking for in a flower arrangement. Our floral designs are created with thoughtfulness and a sincere desire to provide one-of-a kind arrangements.”

In addition to being known throughout the area for its “funky” and distinctive floral creations, Funky Petals is also praised for its friendliness and customer service and for supporting other local businesses. “We have gone from being a little local flower shop to being a pretty major player throughout the Edmonton metro area,” Trelenberg says. “Our ‘welcome home’ approach to service is what really sets us apart.”

GETTING CREATIVE DURING THE PANDEMIC

Little did Trelenberg realize when she bought the business in September 2019 that six months later the world would be hit with a worldwide pandemic. When things started happening, she was quick to make changes, to keep her store up and running and continuing to help her customers.

“We implemented a number of changes to our business model. As well, we created a number of programs to support our customers from Sherwood Park/Strathcona County, Edmonton and surrounding areas,” she says. “Because of our zero-contact delivery and curbside pickup, our customers have been able to celebrate life events during COVID.”

Trelenberg understood that celebrations of life were particularly challenging for families who lost loved ones during this time, and she made sure that the store was able to provide what they needed. “Through our “Virtual Cooler” program, we are able to create amazing celebration-of-life arrangements, all done via e-mail or text,” she explains. “It allowed families to maintain some sense of normalcy during a time of sadness and loss.”

Funky Petals equally adapted its business for wedding and birthday celebrations. “Seniors were hit particularly hard with the COVID restrictions, yet we are still able to create milestone birthday arrangements and deliver them via our zero-contact program,” Trelenberg says.

Funky Petals equally adapted its business for wedding and birthday celebrations. “Seniors were hit particularly hard with the COVID restrictions, yet we are still able to create milestone birthday arrangements and deliver them via our zero-contact program,” Trelenberg says.

At the beginning of the pandemic, she implemented a “We Care Package,” which included a flower arrangement and a dozen cookies from a local baker. “It become very popular,” Trelenberg shares, “and we were thrilled.”

Among the store’s other efforts during this challenging time was its “Petals Bring Smiles” program, which was a chain- letter type of game in which flowers were delivered to unsuspecting people. “The intent was to bring as many smiles to our community as we could,” Trelenberg says. “It was a fun and inexpensive way to send well wishes into the community and to have a lot of fun seeing how far they traveled. Many customers called to ask who sent their “Petals Bring Smiles” arrangements, but, of course, we never divulged. We are very proud of the success of this program.”

Another program Trelenberg developed was “Super Heroes in Scrubs,” where she created care packages specifically for frontline health-care workers. “We donated these packages to Strathcona Community Hospital, Grey Nuns Community Hospital and Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital,” Trelenberg says. “It was a small contribution to recognize their efforts and bravery.”

In addition, Trelenberg increased Funky Petals’ online presence and the number of items on the shop’s website, and she also created a section on the website featuring local vendors. “We were able to help artisans who were unable to be at the farmers markets due to the restrictions,” she elaborates. “We also included many local businesses including a chocolatier, a card maker, a confectioner and a sign maker. We also bought flowers from local flower farms who, again, would have been at local farmers markets.” Trelenberg shares that she will continue to patronize local flower farms when they have flowers available in 2021.

BY DESIGN

Since starting in the business, Trelenberg has operated with a design philosophy that revolves around strong research, experimentation and taking chances. “While no one wants to make mistakes, it is OK,” she says. “Learn from them, and don’t repeat them!”

The most critical lessons Trelenberg has learned are the power of patience, the importance of listening to customers and delivering what they ask for rather than what she thinks may be best. “Customers trust us with their arrangements, and we need to get them right,” Trelenberg says. “I love knowing that we make a difference in people’s lives every day. This business is exactly what I was looking for—a chance to be creative and make a difference bringing smiles to people’s faces.”

LOOKING AHEAD

In 2021 and beyond, Trelenberg has big plans for the store, including expanding its corporate presence. She is also taking on some sustainability measures that she hopes will make a big difference.

“We’ll be launching a “Vase Exchange” program in 2021,” she says. “We are hoping that closets will no longer be cluttered with leftover vases and that fewer containers will end up in landfills. Customers will be educated on our program and encouraged to return their vases in exchange for credit toward their next floral purchase. Our reuse program is one small step in helping save our planet.”

Although she’s been in the flower business for a little more than a year, Trelenberg has already built long-standing relationships with her clientele and is honored to be a part of their lives, from “womb to tomb.” “From wedding flowers to 25-year wedding anniversaries, from proms and graduations to retirement parties, and everything in between, I enjoy creating all of these designs,” she says. “We also welcome new clients into our fold every single day. We love meeting new people and learning the stories behind their flowers. Whether it’s a new home, a happy occasion or a sad one, an exuberant celebration, or something that needs to be handled delicately, we love hearing about and taking care of everyone.”

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