I am “a small town wanderer”. I love to walk the streets of small towns, to get from one end of town to the other in no time, except when something captures my eye and I walk up a step, and open the door to something new. This happened to me in Harriston when I happened upon “Elora Street Flowers” a new shop that opened earlier this year that I have never visited. Immediately on entering I felt “Christmas” and it felt good.
I looked around and instinctively knew someone very creative and happy operates this place … and there she was, behind the counter smiling, the owner Lacey Koeslag. Inquisitive as ever, I was curious about this very young and lovely lady and how she came to be the proprietor of such a classy and elegant shop. As Lacey shared with me her story, I kept thinking, this is a real peek into the hard work and dream of an entrepreneur with a vision and wanting to do it right,
Lacey grew up in Drew and still lives there now with her husband Scott, a carpenter, in the house they designed and built together, and with their two daughters Felicty 8 and Mya 5. She says she “caught” what she calls “the flower bug” after she started a co-op experience while she was in high school. And though she was to study Travel and Tourism at Seneca College, marry and start a family, it was “the flower bug” that came back to bite her again.
It was a hectic life being a stay-at-home Mom with two little girls, so for some “Lacey-time”, she sought work for one day a week in a flower shop, and that was how she met up again with the co-op instructor, Joanne Lavalle of Lavalle Flowers in Arthur and it was there through Joanne’s encouragement, training and sharing with her the ins and outs of the floral trade that Lacey began to explore her creative side and discover her hidden talent. So when Felicity and Mya were both full time in school, Lacey was ready to head out the door too for a change.
The stars align, and once in a while it’s about timing in your life, and meeting the right person at the right time. For Lacey that person at the right time was Wendy Ryckman, the owner of W.R. Designs in Fergus. Looking for a full time job, Lacey contacted her out of the blue and working together they connected, and Lacey says Wendy “polished her up and gave her the confidence to open her own shop in her own town”.
Lacey wanted to do it right, and had no idea of the network of support there is available to young people wanting to open their own business until she started her research, and came into contact with Belinda Wick-Graham, Economic Development Coordinator for Minto Township.
Belinda put Lacey into contact with Harold DeVries, of the Guelph Wellington Business Enterprise, which provides mentorship to young people wanting to open their own business. He became Lacey’s mentor and worked weekly with her for three months putting together a Business Plan. Lacey submitted her Business Plan to a board of other business mentors and applied for and was awarded a $5,000 grant to go towards the start-up of her business. Also through Belinda Wick-Graham Lacey was advised to apply to theTown of Minto for a “Signage and Façade Grant” which she received as well. (Information on these grants can be found at the Launchit Office in Harrriston.)
Lacey had her own ideas for the design of her studio, so together she and Scott through his craftsmanship brought the vision to life … Elora Street Flowers would be a mixing of old world into the new with modern design space, a walk-in cooler for the flowers, a chandelier over the front desk, and shelving constructed out of iron pipes and wood boards with Edison bulbs screwed into the elbows for lighting … (how ingenuous I think!)
And although it’s “Tis the Season” time … Scott, the carpenter, was hesitant to place a door in the middle of the room of the studio, but he trusted Lacey’s instinct and the white French door with glass panes enhanced the Christmas centrepiece that Lacey wanted to create for her shop. So what greets customers now is an awesome and beautifully decorated two sided Christmas tree that is the focal point of the season in the studio and the best interpretation of “maximum use of a small space for Christmas décor” that I have ever seen.
Lacey is an artist and she has the talent and the eye and the imagination to create beautiful things. Some of her designs are so extraordinary … from flowers to wreathes, to ornaments to decor, you see this is someone who has fun at her job. I look forward to many more visits with Lacey as the seasons and the occasions change. And every year at this time I will remember the first time I saw a two-sided Christmas tree with a door in the middle that took my breath away. Well done Lacey and Merry Christmas!
I never cease to be amazed by the creativity and ingenuity of young entrepreneurs. Here in our small towns of Harriston, Mount Forest, Palmerston there are so many of them. They have a dream and a passion that stirs them and a confidence to venture out on their own into their own businesses.
Lacey says: “With the love and support of my family we will continue to design our way through life”.
I say: “Enjoy the journey, Lacey, I think whatever you do will be a thing of beauty. Thanks for sharing your story and for the two-sided Christmas tree that I love.