Gatherings Floral Design
After wandering through the beautiful park in Tudor City, it was easy to understand how someone was inspired to open a flower shop across the street several years ago. In the spring of 2016, Barbara Mele made the bold decision to take over the existing business and turn it into her own – Gatherings Floral Design. The location, design of the store, and the warm community all contributed to Barbara’s decision.
Barbara has been a florist since 2000. She told me that she initially became interested in plants thanks to her grandmother, who was a landscape architect. “When I was younger I was around flowers and plants a lot,” she said. As an adult, she chose to work for numerous flower companies, learning the different techniques of the trade, before deciding to finally branch out on her own. Barbara went on to say that in addition to the magnificent flowers that she is surrounded by each day, she appreciates the opportunity to spend time with so many lovely people in the neighborhood. “I enjoy helping people get something that makes them smile,” she confessed. In turn, residents of the community have expressed their appreciation for keeping a flower shop up and running in the area.
The previous owners had been affiliates of FlowerSchool New York. Barbara now teaches there and, I was delighted to learn, hosts interns from the school at her shop. The space and Barbara’s flowers have been used frequently in the past few months for romantic endeavors. Barbara told the Manhattan Sideways team that the gardens across from her shop are listed as the most romantic place to propose. “I have already had three businessmen come to the shop looking to use either the space or the flowers to help them propose.”
Gatherings is not a traditional cash-and-carry shop. Customers cannot buy prearranged flowers as they can from most American Florists. Barbara instead opts for a traditional European style. The flowers and plants that she carries are, for the most part, locally sourced based upon the season. Customers work with Barbara to create their own personalized floral design.“People react to flowers emotionally,” she said. Based on the customer’s favorite flower, color, or based on the occasion, Barbara along with her client work together to create an arrangement that is exactly what the buyer wants. Instead of paying a set price, customers pay based on the number of flowers used and the size of the arrangements. Barbara continued, “ I can’t be offended that my idea of romantic is not someone else’s idea of romantic when making an arrangement.” Her devotion to customized flower sales makes her work a significantly more creative, social, and open experience, as well as more cost-effective.