Floral Support

O utside, crocuses are pushing up to meet the sun. Inside, at Any Occasion Creation florist shop on Howe Street, more colorful blooms are being prepared to brighten the day. On the front counter, waiting for pickup, is an elegant arrangement of pink and yellow roses, blue and green hydrangeas, pink wax flowers and tall, colorful blooms of stock enhanced with greens of dusty miller and silver dollar eucalyptus. On a work bench in the rear, pots hold cut white roses, their petals unfurling, and lilies, about to split out of their tight, fist-sized buds. Standing in the front window, two tall potted palm trees that aren’t quite ready to move out to the sidewalk for the season sweep their slender green fronds across the shop, giving it a springlike élan.

Owner and floral designer Carrien Davis is surrounded by flowers today much as she was growing up in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean. There, the flowers came from her family’s gardens. She learned early on to pick and arrange them, but her palette expanded when, at the age of 18 and newly arrived in the United States, she tried her hand at arranging the flowers for her sister’s wedding. This time she worked in silk, the only kind of blooms that could make a trip back home. “That’s when I realized, ‘Hey! That’s gonna be it!’” Davis says today. She’d found her calling.

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Working with silk flowers was different than arranging real ones, however. Their wire stems were easier to manipulate, and it was simpler to try out different color schemes and placements without the worry of damaging real flowers. For a long time, while working a job in customer service, Davis experimented at home and honed her craft. She filled albums with photographs of silk arrangements and Christmas wreaths she could make and advertised them to family, friends and coworkers, with encouraging results.

“It did take some playing around, trial and error,” Davis says. “I just learned as I went along.” In 2013 she opened her first floral shop in Westville. That business closed, but last July she rebooted it on Howe Street, conveniently located within walking distance of both the hospital and the university.

Unlike many florists who take orders through corporate wire services, Davis prefers to operate independently. Those services may be convenient, she says, but “you don’t know who’s going to do the flowers,” and you don’t always get what you expect. While small variations might still occur—for example, the shade of pink of a rose—at Any Occasion Creation, Davis says, “We’re independent, so everything comes straight [through] me.” Arrangements start at $49 before tax and delivery, and customers who prefer a “designer’s choice” option can simply choose their price ($60, $80 or $150) and trust Davis’s eye. Either way, she says, “Everything that I create is from my hands, my brain, my heart.”

While it’s pleasant to walk into the shop and literally smell the roses, most business these days comes in online, Davis says. Valentine’s Day was busy, and she’s looking forward to the next big floral holiday: Mother’s Day. Then it will be wedding season—hopefully a busier one than last year.

Alongside traditional floral arrangements for weddings, birthdays, funerals, holidays and “any occasion,” the shop also carries “dish gardens” of greenery on a display table up front alongside delicate pink and white orchids in full bloom and peace lily plants with wide, glossy leaves and pointy white flowers sometimes described as resembling flags of peace. Silk arrangements on another shelf demonstrate bridal bouquets, including a top-shelf brooch bouquet that mixes silk flowers with sparkling, jeweled brooches. Stuffed animals and balloons can be ordered to accompany arrangements, and Davis’s niece sells hand-painted inspirational signs and personalized vases.

In addition to selling some of her niece’s wares, Davis enlists her husband, mother and sister as her “support system” to help with cleaning and dethorning raw flowers and making deliveries. She saves the design work for herself. With six long days of work each week, Davis admits she sometimes gets tired from standing at the work bench in the back of the shop. But she also says she never tires of using flowers to create something beautiful.

Any Occasion Creation
89 Howe St, New Haven (map)
Mon-Thurs 9am-6pm, Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 9am-2pm
(203) 553-4435 | carrien@anyoccasioncreation.biz
www.anyoccasioncreation.biz

Written and photographed by Kathy Leonard Czepiel. Image 1 features Carrien Davis.

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About Kathy Leonard Czepiel

View all posts by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
Kathy Leonard Czepiel is Daily Nutmeg's associate editor. She's also a fiction writer, writing teacher and book club troubleshooter. Her perfect New Haven day would involve lots of sunshine, a West Rock hike, a concert on the green and a coffee milkshake.

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