A nursery is any place in which something is bred, nourished, or fostered. For 25 years, our next featured small business owner has nourished the needs of countless residents in Elmont and beyond, while fostering a reputation of quality service and reliability as well. Perhaps what makes such longevity so remarkable is that “Charmayne’s Florist” isn’t a nursery per se, but instead operates as a producer of floral arrangements and gifts.
Years ago in Elmont there was a handful of nurseries – Frank’s on Dutch Broadway, Cara’s and Van’s both on Linden Boulevard – each of these no greater than a mile’s distance apart. But as the seasons changed and the economy got tougher for consumers, some of these nurseries struggled to survive the times. Today, only Charmayne’s Florist and Van’s Nursery remain as the go-to businesses to buy flowers in the Elmont and Eastern Queens area.
We got a chance to sit down with Charmayne recently for an inspiring interview as she reflected on over two decades of service to the community. Check out some photos after the interview and join us as we celebrate a true friend to the community on a great achievement!
Title: Owner/Floral Designer/Artist by Profession
# of years worked here: 25 years
Country of Origin: Jamaica
How did you get into this business?
Ever since I was young I’ve had a knack for art. I used to do drama — doing scenery, designing costumes, landscaping and even taking still pictures. Back home in Jamaica we had beautiful gardens, and my mother would make sure the church & our home was always adorned with fresh flowers. As I got older I had special training and eventually earned my art degree. Now I’m an artist by profession.
Do you live in Elmont?
No. Deeper out east.
How has the culture of the Elmont community impacted your success?
Elmont has changed. It used to be whites in this area. We now have a mixed clientele, but no matter what through the years I cultivate friendships with all my clients. But sometimes, you know, your own people don’t want you to succeed. We’re a Black-owned business and many times people ask if we’re a White-owned business. It’s unfortunate, and really sad, quite frankly. But we always try to greet new people and just uplift people.
What are some of your goals for the future? (Growth, expansion, relocation, etc.)
Retirement! I’ve been at this for many years — We did expand some years ago — Now it’s time to settle down. But first I would really love to bring it to level where I feel “OK, I’ve done it,” and then I move on. There’s still a particular level I want to reach before that time.
Would you be open to accepting volunteers?
We used to accept volunteers through a church program. They would go around the community & see who could employ and teach teenagers, and the church would pay them. We would go to Career Days at local schools and talk to young people about entrepreneurship. Things have changed due to the economy.
What do you want people to know about your business?
You know, I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I shared my talents with others. And I said, ‘If I can make one person happy every day — that’s success.’ You have to give back. Give in order to get. The way I was brought up was to do 100% or more in whatever you do. Respect yourself. Put God first in whatever you do. And use what God gave you.
Well, this is a luxury business. Even weddings nowadays, people are nickel-and-diming. Once a lady came to me -desperate – she was getting married and only had $200 for floral arrangements. I said OK and we agreed to do the wedding for a little more than that. In the end, she was thrilled! It was so beautiful and she was very grateful.
See, the blessings that I get, and my family, you can’t put a price on that. You have good days and bad days, but always give thanks. Laughter is a part of our business. Sometimes you have to laugh & cry with customers. Give them a hug. I know that I’m here doing the work of God.
We would like to thank Charmayne for a great interview, and for being as generous with her time as her business has been in its service to the community. Charmayne also enjoys baking cakes and interior decorating. Visit her website available in English, French and Spanish at http://www.charmaynesflorist.com/.