Doing my job

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July 25, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Cassie Limpert
Cassie Limpert

Nicole Chittenden

Florist

Petals, 927 Nicollet Mall

Nicole Chittenden's job is a whirl of flowers, brides and retail shoppers. Ten months ago, she opened a Nicollet Mall shop called Petals, 927 Nicollet Mall, with and her friend Linda Wells, sharing a space also occupied by Rush's Bridal on the floors above.

Chittenden said that making a flower arrangement isn't just fitting some pretty flowers together in a vase, but taking many things into consideration - the client's personality, the colors in the space, other dcor and the occasion.

She said her favorite flower is the peony, and she often spices up floral arrangements with feathers or fresh fruit for a more unique look. "It's not your cookie-cutter look," she said, adding that she loves color.

Chittenden said all of these skills important in fashion design, too. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001with a degree in fashion design, but continued working at flower shops on the side - a business she became involved with as a teen. She also worked as a bridal consultant, a stint that's helped her blossoming business.

She said she never imagined her varied experience would come into an ideal business package. "I fell into flowers," Chittenden said. "It's the most wonderful opportunity I could have asked for."

She describes her floral design style as "lush and romantic" - flower arrangements ideal for the soon-to-be brides who have to enter in the Petals door to get to the bridal shop upstairs. "We get a lot of bridal traffic," Chittenden said.

In the 10 months since they opened the shop, Chittenden says she hasn't encountered any major disasters or mishaps, though she did recall a delivery gone awry.

She said her husband accidentally delivered a bouquet to the wrong house and when he returned to explain his mistake, the man refused to give the flowers back. After much discussion the man reluctantly gave back the bouquet but refused to give up the card that went with it. Despite the quirky delivery incident, Chittenden says everything is running smoothly.

Of customers/brides, said she loves the customer service aspect of the job, but admits that owning a business is harder than anticipated. She says she never expected the store itself to be so much work. Right now she and Wells are rearranging the store to make the retail side of the store smaller and the workspace in the back bigger.

As an entrepreneur, she said she's learned how to not only be a floral designer, but a "psychologist, advertiser, marketer and interior designer," she said. "What I do here - you absolutely have to be a master at everything.