Owner, Nicole Spence has over a decade of experience as a floral designer. Walking into her light-filled shop feels warm and welcoming. Nicole’s unique aesthetic for unusual flowers is obvious. A bunch of dried lotus flowers or banksia may catch your eye near the window before you notice a table of fresh bouquets sitting by the front door. Her elemental and botanical style gives the shop its own distinct feel. Businesses on Cortland Avenue, like Pinhole Coffee, Bernalese and 3rd Cousin, have embraced her arrangements.
We talked to Nicole about what it’s been like starting a new business in the neighborhood.
Nicole: I moved to San Francisco four years ago from San Diego. I’ve worked in floral design for over ten years. Everything from corporate clients, to events and private clients. I’ve always wanted to have my own business and I decided to take a risk and do it here. I opened the shop in August.
Nicole: I moved to Bernal with my husband and daughter, so we’re in the neighborhood.
Coincidentally, JoEllen Depakakibo of Pinhole coffee is my next door neighbor. While we were settling into life here I did different flower arrangements at home to keep my creativity going and experiment. I’d drop them at Pinhole each week for her.
Last March I did a pop-up in front of my house and it went really well. So I continued to do those for a couple of months. Then this shop became available. JoEllen encouraged me to take it.
The more I thought about it the more I realized it was now or never. The shop is cozy, so it’s the perfect size.
Nicole: Most of the shops on this street support each other. I’m always recommending other shops and restaurants while people are in here. This neighborhood has a real sense of community.
My daughter Collette helps on the weekend. She goes to Wallenberg High School
and neighbors will come in because they’ve heard our kids are at the same school. They’ll ask me to be involved by doing arrangements for school events. It feels good to be involved like that.
Other stores on Cortland like The New Wheel, Bernalese, and 3rd Cousin have signed up for weekly deliveries.
It’s an important way to build up loyal customers and help people get to know my business and style.
Nicole: I’ve also started a yearly bud vase subscription. Right now, you pay $60 for the year and pick out a new bud vase, Then you can come in every month and pick up fresh flowers for your vase at no additional charge. It encourages people in the neighborhood to come into the shop regularly.
For $50 a month I deliver a new arrangement to your home. We pick up the vase and switch it out with the new delivery.
Nicole: First, there aren’t many flower shops anymore. Most of them are online.
My style is more eclectic and I like to carry things people don’t see every day. Flowers that are more unusual like banksia, dried lotus, protea and lady slipper orchids.
Everything is cut stem and sold by the stem. We have both dried and fresh flowers. I always have bouquets ready to go and a few plants.
Nicole: Yes, I’d love to start a flower club where we meet once a month and talk about different topics. I want it to be a place where neighbors can meet each other and learn about floral design. We can work on different arrangements together and be crafty. It’s a fun way to become part of the community.
409 Cortland Avenue,
San Francisco, CA
Pinhole Coffee: 231 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco
Bernalese: 307 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco
3rd Cousin: 919 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco
The New Wheel: 420 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco