By Sue Botos
The “Old River” area of Detroit Road in Rocky River definitely has a European vibe, with eateries such as Stino da Napoli, Tartine Bistro and Rosso Gelato offering a continental taste. Shops like Solari give customers a chance to browse imported items for the home. Now Fiori della Vita (Flowers of Life) will give people the opportunity to experience a European flower market without leaving the city.
“It’s just always something I’ve wanted to do,” said owner Catherine Jones, during a recent interview, describing her shop at 19041 Old Detroit Road. Jones recalled that her roots in the floral business extend back to 1976. “I worked part-time (in floral) while I did what everyone else called a ‘real job,’” said Jones, who formerly worked in human resourses and as an administrative assistant.
Jones, a Bay Village resident, is not a newcomer to the Rocky River business scene. After deciding to go into the florist business full time, Jones managed The Cutting Garden in the Beachcliff Market Square for 15 years. She then worked for American Greetings for five years, arranging floral pieces for photographs used on greeting card fronts, and other decorative art. But it was a trip to Amsterdam, Holland in the spring that planted the seed of getting back into the flower business.
“When I went to the Aalsmeer flower market in Amsterdam with friends this spring, I realized I missed being in such a vibrant and creative environment,” she said. “Every week I (was) approached by previous clients telling me that they miss my flowers.”
The idea of another flower shop kept growing in the weeks after she returned from her trip. “I thought about it on my way home. I thought about it for a few more weeks, and before I knew it, I was looking at property,” she recalled.
Although she has only been open since Sept. 1, Jones said that some of her loyal customers have already found her. “This location is great. I love Rocky River,” she said. “I’m thrilled to be here.”
Jones has patterned her shop after the open-air flower markets of France, England and Holland. Rainbow bouquets of roses, lilies and other cut flowers fill the shop with fragrance. She also has plants, such as orchids, unique gift items and one-of-a-kind embroidered linens.
At least for now, Jones said that while she will happily prepare arrangements for events, she does not deliver. “I used to have drivers at the Cutting Garden, but I’m not doing that this time. I plan on being the only employee for now,” she said. She added that she has not decided on set hours for the shop yet and will try different combinations to see what works best and coordinates with other area businesses.
Jones does hope to make flowers more a part of every day, rather than just be reserved for special occasions. “In Europe, flowers are a part of daily life, whether to add a decorating accent, a fragrance to a room, or say ‘hello’ when visiting friends. Flowers make people happy and I want to provide them with a quality product, large variety and great selection again. It’s fun to be creative. I follow trends and am open to new ideas,” she stated.
Some of those new ideas are offered in Jones’ series on the Fiori della Vita Facebook page and blog. Here she offers ideas for “decorating with flowers and provides the foundation so that people can express their own creativity.”