When Kristy Geary moved here 16 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, she never could have anticipated the trajectory her journey to the Keys would take.
Originally from Marblehead, Ohio, Kristy found herself working for a yacht design company on the mainland and came to Key West after the company downsized. Her brother and best friend lived here at the time, so it was a natural destination after her career shakeup. As soon as she got to Key West, she got a bartending job at Margaritaville and, like so many transients before her, never left.
In 2012, while Kristy was bartending at the Gecko on a particularly hellish St. Patrick’s Day Saturday in the middle of spring break and during a locals’ bar stroll, she got to the end of her bartending rope. Serendipitously, her friend Eileen who used to own Blossoms, a local flower shop, stopped in for a drink and set Kristy’s florist life into motion.
“The day had been insane,” Kristy said. “And I was over it. It was spring break and I had been working back to back doubles and I was exhausted. On any other day, I might not have said yes but when Eileen asked if I had any interest in owning a flower shop I jumped at the chance.
“I had been craving a creative outlet,” she said. “I was always trying to find something creative to do, but nothing ever came up that I could make any money doing.” Working with flowers was a surprisingly seamless transition from her former life. “Being a florist came pretty easily and pretty naturally,” Kristy said. “Nulita (then the owner of Love in Bloom) was a great teacher. She threw me into it feet first and I loved it from day one.”
Kristy and her then- business partner Scott Leslie bought Nulita out and since then, Love in Bloom has grown exponentially.
Being a local business owner comes with a lot of perks, not the least of which is your choice of coworkers. “From the beginning, I pretty much hired all my friends,” Kristy says. “And I continue to do so and it works wonderfully. We’re a great family and I’m so lucky that I know good people in this town that I’ve been able to recruit and sucker in.”
That said, living in Key West does make some things difficult. “Getting the product to Key West is a challenge,” Kristy reflects. “Our flowers come from all over the world and they have to come through Miami, so getting what we need here is the biggest obstacle we face. Everything we create is custom made, and we really try to get different flowers in every week. We only like to use what’s fresh and what’s in season, to give our customers the best product we can.”
West is a huge destination for weddings, the vast majority of Love in Bloom’s clients are brides. “We do flowers for any occasion of course, but about 75 percent of what we do is weddings,” Kristy said. Heather Lamaine, who bought former owner Scott Leslie out this past year, is Love in Bloom’s resident bride whisperer. “We try to guide brides as to what’s in season and what fits their vision,” Kristy says. “You try to get to know them as best you can. Heather is really good at that. She talks to them, gets to know them, and asks them about everything from the cake to their shoes and hairstyle. Then we guide them in direction of what works best for their venue, their style, and their personality.”
A huge part of Love in Bloom’s wedding business is making the experience as personal as possible for each bride. “We’re not cookie cutter,” Kristy stresses. “We don’t want every bride to pick the same bouquet. Our style is typically the bright tropical and colorful flowers, but our weddings cover the color spectrum.”
Individuality is especially important when you consider that Love in Bloom does between 400 and 500 weddings a year, most of them from October to May. Despite the hectic nature of wedding season, Kristy loves the wedding aspect of the florist business. “For the most part, everyone is just so happy to be in Key West,” she explains. “And it is so rewarding to see everything when it’s all set up and to look around at the beauty we’ve created.”
So, what does Kristy do once wedding season dies down? “I love to go boating,” she says. “If I had to pick something to do on my rare days off, it would be getting out on the water. I also travel a ton, which is why I work so many jobs. Summer is for travel, vacations and relaxation.”
Love in Bloom is located at 134 Simonton St. To learn more, visit loveinbloomflorist.com. ¦