by Srianthi Perera
When Arizona native Mireille Helm took up floral design, it bloomed into a third career.
Half-dozen years later, everything is coming up roses.
“It is so fun to bring joy to people with flowers,” said Helm, who recently opened her first storefront for Everybody Loves Flowers in Agritopia.
The Gilbert High School alum is part of the craftsman community in Barnone, the old Quonset barn-turned-artisan workspace that includes a micro restaurant, brewery and other uses.
Helm hastens to add, however, that the store is not a traditional retail shop to buy flowers, although people may place orders for them in advance. “Everything in my fridge is for the wedding tomorrow, or leftovers (from a wedding). If somebody calls in, I can assemble something. But this is not a walk-in flower shop,” she said.
Helm uses the space to meet clients, plan her assignments, mostly weddings (she also does sympathy flowers and events), and to sell plants, such as cactus, and hand-picked novelties, jewelry, beauty aids and gift packs such as olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill.
She offers floral soirees, which are informal classes for small groups, helped along with a glass of wine.
The 500-square-feet store was decorated with help from her two daughters, Myranda and Taylor, who are in college in Fort Worth, Texas. They, in turn, apparently were inspired by Chip and Joanna Gaines, hosts of the hit remodeling show, Fixer Upper in Waco, Texas. Hence the ivy-covered barn door to cover the storage area and the exquisitely soft Home T-shirts and many other details.
“Myranda is studying fashion merchandizing, so she helped me buy and organize stuff. Taylor is in interior design, and she did the look of the shop,” Helm said. “Everything they’ve picked has been really awesome. It kind of keeps us connected while they’re away at school.”
It all began when Helm started selling boutonnieres and corsages to students at Gilbert Christian School where she taught. As students graduated, they began requesting her to provide flowers at their weddings.
For six years, Helm designed and created flower arrangements from the garage of her Queen Creek home. She is now in the process of moving to a house in Agritopia, because empty nesters don’t need an acre of land or a swimming pool and simplifying is “nice,” she said. She looks forward to riding her bicycle to work.
Helm trained in floral design at Mesa Community College, and the Arizona State Florists Association. To become an Arizona Certified Master Florist, she attended an eight-week, comprehensive course offered by the latter.
“I taught art at the school, so art is in my background; I picked it up easily,” she said.
At first, her husband Craig, who is in construction, was skeptical. “How can you make money out of a bouquet here and there?” was his query at the time.
But then the phone started ringing.
Nowadays, Helm averages about 75 weddings a year and also does two large annual events for Arizona State University, where years ago she obtained a degree in journalism and public relations. She’s a preferred florist for the wedding venues Elegant Barn in Gilbert and SoHo63 in downtown Chandler, Windmill Winery in Florence and Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek.
Before she began her career with blooms, Helm worked in public relations for Banner Health and other companies.
She knows this will be her final career. “I do love it,” she said.
Everybody Loves Flowers is at Barnone, 3000 E. Ray Road, Gilbert.