Bee Loved Florist: New business mixes flowers, honey and love
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: July 31, 2013
You get what you give, and if you want to be loved you’d better have a heart willing to love. The owners of Bee Loved Florist took an idea and turned it into a reality in a mind-boggling six weeks, loving what they do and in turn loving the support they’ve received every step of the way.
The good vibes continue for partners Deborah Eastman and Anna Ward at their shop - its motto is “Everyone wants to be loved” - located at 915 E. Main Street. Sharing the space is SuzCreates, a multimedia art studio owned by artist Suzanne Tummarello, a longtime friend of Deborah’s.
Bee Loved Florist also stocks cut flowers, greeting cards, Bennett Honey Farm products including honey, candles and soaps, Naked Bee cosmetics such as lip balms and glosses and other pampering items with bees in common. On the counter is a “help yourself” container of miniature Bit-O-Honey candy.
The back-story to Bee Loved Florist is something to buzz about: Deborah was recovering from an 18-month series of surgeries and a romantic relationship was turning rocky. Just before the split Deborah found a card: “the definition of my name... industrious. But my nickname,” created by friends’ small children who could not pronounce Deborah, was Bee.
Deborah, who as a volunteer created floral arrangements for her church and weddings, pondered being industrious when it dawned on her to create small floral arrangements to deliver weekly to the hospital where she had been treated. “I realized I was an industrious Bee,” buzzing around the flowers she so enjoyed working with.
When Deborah’s relationship finally ended she stayed with Suzanne in Santa Paula. “I thought, what can I do, I have to do something,” said Deborah, “to make me happy.”
One night a patron of Mupu Grill, hearing of Deborah’s volunteer efforts, gave her $100 for more hospital flower deliveries. She took it as a very good sign.
Another serendipitous Mupu Grill moment was meeting Anna Ward, a resident of Santa Paula who had extensive background in finance and owned a successful online button business. “It was an instant bond, Anna was a blessing” during a time Deborah was “going through some heartache... and I fell in love with this town; there wasn’t anything in Santa Paula that didn’t dazzle me.”
Anna felt the same way: the native of Poland and her husband Pete Johnson moved to Santa Paula from Culver City in November 2012. “We were looking for a slower pace” that Anna said led the couple to look in “cookie cutterish” Ventura and “too expensive Ojai.... The moment we got to Santa Paula we were sold.”
It was during lunch at Mupu Grill that the idea of the flower shop came to Deborah, and conveniently across the street was vacant space. “The button business had slowed down in the spring, and when Deborah came up with the idea I said sure... I was looking for something new,” said Anna.
After looking in the window, the women contacted the property manager/Realtor, the late Jim Garfield. Garfield offered encouragement and help beyond the norm, as did building owner and Mupu Grill partner Paul Leavens, who the women said also went “above and beyond” to help the entrepreneurs.
Anna and Deborah immediately started organizing and funding the business, which almost seemed too easy. Everything from the name and phone number to the logo fell into place perfectly, although Anna acknowledged, “If it was too hard we changed direction.”
The mix of flowers, honey and honey products, the art and classes in SuzCreates, and even the buttons all clicked. “Who knew you could tie buttons and flowers together?” said Deborah. “Who knew you could have button bouquets and boutonnières” custom made by Anna’s mother-in-law that have become popular bridal items.
“I don’t think we would have opened anywhere but Santa Paula,” said Deborah. “I loved every part of it... it was healing, it was peace and the people were always wonderful. Everything just said this is the place.”
Said Anna, “The way everyone was feeding us ideas as we were getting this ready... it all really fell into place. Anna was convinced “It had to be here,” a feeling only reinforced when Bee Loved booked its first wedding on its June 20 opening day.
Anna and Deborah said it is “incredible” how welcoming the community has been, including other area businesses and the Chamber of Commerce. “Up and down Main Street, everybody has opened their arms to us,” said Deborah.
“Not one person,” said Anna, has failed to be helpful.
Deborah said Bee Loved floral specialist Kate Mueller is “fabulous, a gem... everyone commends her” talents and dedication. But, added Deborah, “I could not and don’t think I would have done this without Anna... she’s a good friend.”
To reinforce the shop’s “Everybody wants to be loved” motto, each week seven bags containing necessities such water, a protein bar, socks and dog treats for pets are given to the homeless.
Bee Loved is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The shop is closed Sunday and Monday. The phone number is 933-933 and the website www.beelovedflorist.com is being finalized.