Floral arrangements are used to mark most occasions. Whether celebrating or grieving, the perfect arrangement can make a statement and Hudson County has no shortage of options for purchasing flowers. Devoné Austin, the owner of Bobbie Louise Floral, connected with us to share all about her Jersey City business, how she got started in the industry, and what makes her business stand out. Read on to learn more about Bobbie Louise Floral in Jersey City.
When meeting Austin and learning the name of her business, the first question most people ask typically involves wanting to understand where the business name originates. “I get asked this one a lot, haha. I named the shop after my paternal and maternal grannies. Bobbie is my paternal granny’s nickname, short for Barbara. Louise is my maternal granny’s middle name. It was an intuitive decision for me. They each have characteristics that I feel create balance within me and my business.”
Devoné has had the gift of creativity her entire life and her family has always been supportive of this intuition, even as a little girl growing up in Phoenix. “I’ve always been very expressive, and my hobbies have reflected that. I sang in choirs and bands, wrote poetry and songs. I even modeled and performed in theater. I worked in the retail/hospitality industries since I was 16,” Devoné said.
Even though she has always been in creative spaces, it wasn’t until she turned 27 and went through a nasty break-up that she found florals. When looking for a new career path, Devoné had two deal-breakers for her next move. “I knew it was time for a career, but it had to allow me to express myself artistically and it had to be physically engaging and hands-on,” Devoné said. After a quick Google search, Devoné came across florals and thought she would jump right into this space. However, nearly every business she called within a reasonable distance of her hometown would not hire her due to a lack of experience.
After numerous negative responses, Devoné finally found a florist needing seasonal help during the busiest time of the year for this industry, Valentine’s Day. “[It was] This local family-owned flower shop chain in the Valley. They brought me on for seasonal help and allowed me to design with them on Valentine’s Day,” Devoné shared. She began designing with the standard red rose, greenery, and baby’s breath combination that is highly sought after during that time of year. Devoné then started to branch out of this classic arrangement by recreating arrangements she found online. “I was recreating cute little sculptural arrangements I found online. That’s when we all realized I do have a talent here and when I knew that this was something worth pursuing further.”
Photo Credit: Devoné Austin
About two years ago, Devoné ’s partner was hired by a company in New York City, which prompted their move. The two decided to move to Jersey City Heights because of the higher quality of living, close-knit community, and access to a strong education for their young son. Devoné started Bobbie Louise out of her Hudson County home, until recently finding a studio space. Devoné enjoys working in the area because of the benefits for both her business and her family. “It’s important to me to be close to home and my son’s school, so it was an easy decision,” Devoné shared.
Keeping it Local
Given her love for the community and the environment in which Devoné has created her business, Bobbie Louise Florals is proud to take a sustainable and local approach to the business. This is not a common practice in the floral industry. “It’s also really important to me to source flowers that are locally grown,” Devoné shared. She continued by saying, “Most flowers in the U.S. are imported from South America, Kenya, and the Netherlands, so being able to purchase flowers that were picked so close to home means, arguably, we’re getting better quality flowers and we’re also supporting local growers and our local economy. We mostly buy from the Garden State Flower Co-op, which is run by amazing women, where many of the local growers bring their flowers for the event and retail florists to purchase wholesale.”
Photo Credit: Devoné Austin
In addition to the Garden State Flower Co-op, some of the flowers Devoné uses are purchased from local wholesalers, but it’s her hope to one day soon say all flowers are locally grown. Bobbie Louise Floral is also conscious of the effects plastic has on the environment, which is why Devoné has decided to make the business entirely plastic-free. “We recently went plastic-free, meaning all of our arrangements for deliveries and pick-up come in reusable vessels, wrapped in paper in a paper bag. We even use bamboo floral picks to hold on our note cards. And when we’re designing for events, we never use floral foam or zip ties. Our mechanics are always reusable (chicken wire, floral frogs, bind wire, etc.) or compostable (jute twine, moss, etc.),” she stated.
Devoné values the connections she has been able to make amongst other, local small business owners. “One of my favorite parts about being a small business owner is being a part of a community of ambitious and visionary people who dreamed and had the gumption to make it a reality. It’s a really challenging thing to do, and it brings me a lot of pride and joy to say I’m one of those people as well,” she shared. Of course, building a business from the ground up in a new city is no small task.”
Devoné recalls learning the business side of things on the fly. “Bobbie Louise Floral is a one-woman show for now and starting a new business has been such a learning curve. There’s always something to learn, something I’m supposed to be sharing on social media, new products, troubleshooting tech issues, you know.” Outside of spending time at her own business, Devoné enjoys supporting her fellow small business owners around town. “We support the business in our neighborhood as much as possible. We will grab bacon, egg, and cheese from Wonder Bagel or a sandwich at Andrea Salumeria. Every Thursday we order pizza from Renato’s! We have friends at Corto, we dine there, and I designed the arrangement that sits on the hostess stand. When I’m hanging out with the mamas, we like to have cocktails at LoFi,” Devoné shared. One business that holds a special place in her heart is Busy Bee Organics. “Busy Bee Organics was the first business that hosted me for a pop-up shop. Michelle and Jamie are so kind and I’ve really appreciated their support and encouragement,” she continued.
What to Expect
When ordering from Bobbie Louise Floral, customers can expect a custom arrangement designed, with love, by Devoné herself. “It’s an intimate experience being a part of people’s special occasions, and I hope they know that I deeply value their trust in me and that overall they’re happy with the product and service they receive,” said Devoné when asked about how she wants customers to feel when ordering from her. She went on to say, “I hope they think it was beautiful, that the value was there for them, and that they feel good about themselves knowing they’re supporting a local small business selling chic flowers that can be purchased in good conscience.”
Photo Credit: Devoné Austin
Those looking to order from Bobbie Louise can head to the website. “We offer wedding and event floral design services, flower bars for events and corporate clients as well as other corporate flower services, like weekly flower arrangements for hotels and restaurants,” Devoné shared. If customers are looking for something more casual or even a hands-on experience, they can head to the Riverview Farmers Market in Jersey City on Sundays from 10AM-2PM. Pre-made arrangements as well as flowers by the stem are available for purchase. Customers are invited to purchase flowers by the stem for DIY arrangements, with Devoné ’s expertise close by.
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Customers can follow all things Bobbie Louise in various ways. Subscribe to the mailing list via the website to receive 15% off your first order and check out the business @bobbielouisefloral on Instagram. If you or someone you know is involved with the floral industry, Bobbie Louise Floral is looking to grow the team. Send a note to email@example.com to inquire more about openings.
Starting a business can be difficult, but with the right support, a welcoming community, and an undeniable skillset, Devoné Austin has been able to break into the floral market and we cannot wait to see what Bobbie Louise Floral does next.