CLEVELAND — Flowers can be so simple and yet bring someone joy and happiness. Fresh flowers, purchased at a florist or online usually die within a week or so, but paper flowers are forever.

Anji Brooks discovered at a young age she was one of many who’s allergic to fresh flowers. But the Northeast Ohio native wasn’t going to let an allergy stop her from enjoying what makes her smile.

In 2013, Brooks left her career and opened a paper flower shop inside the 5th Street Arcade in downtown Cleveland called Love, Anji.

"I was pretty excited to find something I could make and enjoy," she said.

But after five years Brooks decided it was time to close up shop and move her business online. She said sales were slow in the beginning but then eventually they picked up.

"I have a really strong fan base here in Cleveland and really across the United States," she said. "They love to spread the love and let their friends and family know so that was a big help."

In August 2019, Brooks had a change of heart. She missed seeing customers and having a brick and mortar shop. So, once again the search was on to find a location for her storefront. Fast forward to 2020 where fate was on her side. Brooks was informed there was a spot open inside the 5th Street Arcade, where her journey as a business owner first began. She signed on and opened up yet another shop.

"It feels good to be home," she said.

Inside Love, Anji, customers can choose from more than 50 paper flowers for their arrangement or a single stem. Brooks said often times people pop into the shop not realizing the flowers are made from paper and are pleasantly surprised. "It’s like any other florist – if you just need flowers for your home or office or to gift to somebody, you know, this is an option. And the nice thing is – they don’t die." Brooks said. "We’re not limited to what nature creates."

Brooks said reopening her storefront during the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough, but it’s what she expected.

"It’s not where I was when I left but I went into that expecting it," she said.

Above all, she said, her shop has the ability to make someone’s day and that’s what matters most.

"It’s my mission in life to just to spread happiness, spread joy, and love. Just seeing people light up either seeing them in person or receiving them just warms my heart."With the holiday season approaching, Brooks said she is confident sales will be where she would like them – especially since she offers pet-friendly paper poinsettias."A lot of people are getting behind small businesses, local businesses, so I’m excited to see what the holiday season will bring," Brooks said.Click here to learn more about Love, Anji.