Deb Willoughby has opened a full-service florist and gift shop right out of her home in Boyle County. She started a website on Oct. 1 bearing the name of the new business, Lavender Blooms Florist and Gifts, and it’s up and ready for online and phone orders.
Willoughby started the business in response to a need she saw in the community — several florists in and around the county had closed or were closing shop, and it was becoming more difficult to find a local florist. So Willoughby, who has more than 40 years of floral design experience and makes other creations as well, like corn husk dolls for Shaker Village, dried flower arrangements she glazes to preserve, and organic blackberry jam, decided to open a shop of her own, since she’d always wanted to.
“I have always got my hands into something,” she said.
Willoughby said she always tries to stay busy, active, and interested in learning new things. She began her career in floral design at Hunters Florist in Nicholasville in 1979. Over the years, she’s worked with four other florists in various towns, and she said she’s also a juried member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and a member of Kentucky Proud. In college she studied computer design, something she’s now putting to use by running her business website herself. She also works as a test proctor at Centre College in the college’s library — she also studied library sciences in college.
She contracted COVID-19 in September and had several weeks of free time to plan for her business while she was quarantined. With her time, she created a business plan, purchased a domain, registered the name of her business and set up the website. For now, she does her business from home, crafting her creations on a big table in her home office, but once the business grows, “hopefully I’ll be able to rent a building in town and do the floral design from there.”
As she gets orders, she purchases flowers, so they aren’t sitting in a cooler for a couple weeks, she said. Especially for events like funerals when designing a casket spray, she wants customers to receive a quality product and provide them with the freshest possible flowers. She purchases from a wholesaler and also gets flower bundles from Kroger with deals they have for florists, and builds the arrangements herself.
Willoughby sees a need in the community for florists, as, for example, they’ve been needing to search for a florist if they’ve had a loved one die.
“And there’s been a lot of that with the pandemic, unfortunately.”
She said when creating arrangements for funerals, “I think it’s a very significant thing to know what you’re talking about and know how to offer them what they’re asking for.”
For example, she once helped design an arrangement for a funeral where the loved one who had died was a hunter — they integrated a set of antlers into the arrangement. Or if the person was a fisherman, fishing equipment can be incorporated into the design. It’s good as a florist to be able to reassure families and friends that they’ll receive something beautiful in memory of their loved one, she said. She said she knows many funeral homes have florists they work with, and it will take a while for them to get to know her, but she hopes they give her the chance to show what she can do.
When it comes to events like weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, or to say congratulations, she loves the power flowers have to make people smile.
“I’ve always found it amazing how much it can brighten a person’s day to receive a beautiful, well-arranged, fresh, bright arrangement of flowers,” she said.
Her mother gave her the love of flowers, and she also inspired the name for Willoughby’s business — her favorite color was lavender. Willoughby’s mother died in 2015, so the business name is a way to keep her memory alive.
Growing up, her mother always had flowers, like irises, tulips, crocuses, and always a lilac bush. She pointed out to Willoughby and her six sisters when spring and summer flowers were budding and blooming and different species.
For Willoughby, it means a lot to her to get the chance to provide her services during a pandemic, especially with the holidays coming up — people will want decorations, ornaments and wreaths, which she designs.
“It means a lot to me because I know people have been saddened by all of this. They have been disheartened, and they’re worried that their holidays won’t be the same anymore, and I want to try and show them that they can still shop, I can still deliver to them — they don’t even have to leave their house.”
She said, “I want to show them what I can do.”
IF YOU ORDER
The website address is lavenderbloomsflorist.com, and online orders can be made 24/7. For orders over the phone, hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the number is 859-236-4799. The business can also be reached at [email protected] Delivery is free in Danville and Junction City. There is a $8 delivery fee for Parksville, Perryville, Burgin, Harrodsburg, Stanford, Hustonville, Bryantsville and Lancaster. There is $10 delivery for Waynesburg, Kings Mountain, Paint Lick, Nicholasville and Wilmore. The business can also deliver to hospitals out of town; there’s a $12 delivery fee to UK Hospital, Central Baptist Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital.