Michelle Northey sees art in everything, including flowers.
“I love working with my hands and being surrounded by beautiful things,” she says. “I’m inspired by everything I see.”
After studying studio art at Lawrence University, Northey discovered the floral industry, and in September 2006,she opened Flower Girl Design Studio. “Owning my own business was a way for me to do the work I wanted to do and parent at the same time,” she says.
Located on Stoney Brook Road in Buchanan, Flower Girl specializes in fresh custom floral arrangements for all
occasions and plants for the home. “I carry unique and high-quality flowers and plants,” Northey says. “My shop is small and personable. I love getting to know my customers.”
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northey learned through one of her customers that LEAVEN, a nonprofit that provides emergency financial assistance to community residents, had urgent unmet needs. At the same time, the wholesale greenhouse she works with had a surplus of products due to event cancellations and shop closures, so Northey decided to buy some hydrangeas and host a fundraiser.
“I was in a position to keep my own shop going in a safe way, so it felt like a good way to help both a local nonprofit in need and support a business that I depend on,” she says, adding the hydrangea sale raised $2,250 for LEAVEN.
As for her business, when the Safer at Home order was issued, Northey sent her employees home to ensure their safety. She next turned to her plants.
“I had to liquidate every living thing in the shop so I wouldn’t lose my plants,” Northey says. “Within two days, my customers came through in an amazing way and cleared me out. I’m so grateful. Not only was it a relief to have one less thing to stress about, but I was able to make payroll through April with those sales.”
As the weeks continued, Northey worked alone, and flower orders continued steadily through curbside pickup. “No-contact delivery, aka ding-dong ditch, has become the routine,” she says.
On May 1, Northey brought her full-time employee back to the shop, and Mother’s Day sales were record-breaking. “We are settling in now and starting to discuss what’s next,” she says. “There are a lot of unknowns, but I’m hopeful. It might get hard, but we’ll get through.”