One does not simply turn an internship into one’s own business.
Or does one?
Well, we’ve got at least one example of exactly that happening in the flower business here in Niceville.
When she was still at Niceville High School, Emily Clarrey took an aptitude test offered by Northwest Florida State College. The test told the teenager that she should look into becoming a florist. With the test in mind and an internship credit on her class schedule, she walked into Katie’s House of Flowers on Bayshore Drive and asked for an unpaid position.
Within a week, she began creating her first arrangements.
After about a year, she and her now husband, Dylan, bought the business.
“It was a no-brainer, because Katie’s is a legacy in our community since 1965 – and we wanted to carry on that legacy,” Clarrey said.
In the five-and-a-half years since purchasing the business, which sells plenty of flowers – as well as gifts and candies – the Clarreys have worked to expand it.
But the best part about the business is the reaction it creates for others. “It’s spreading happiness,” Dylan Clarrey said, “you’re doing a great service for someone when they need you to be there for them.”
It’s a blue-green 1963 C10, currently covered in garland and poinsettias. “It would have been nice if it was a 1965 because the shop was established in ‘65,” Dylan said with a smile, “but it’s alright, it’s close enough.”
The mint-colored truck, a restoration project of Dylan’s is now the can’t-miss moving billboard for Katie’s. The ultimate reminder for a guy like me (absent-minded) that forgets to buy flowers with any regularity for his patient wife. The truck has a classic look, minus the paint job, and will take flowers all around Niceville – and even up to Crestview for same-day delivery.
To your humble writer, at least, the truck is a metaphor for the business itself. New, exciting changes, a hometown feel, and good old American ingenuity.
But the truck wasn’t just a fresh coat of paint and a rekeying from a locksmith. It took Dylan two years to restore it to its current ‘mint’ condition. “It looked nothing like this,” Dylan said with his hands in his pockets in an understated way. “it was a project,” he added It was definitely a farm truck, and it needed a lot of work to get it to where it is – especially with all of these production issues going on in our country right now.”
Christmas is definitely a busy season for Katie’s, but here’s what you need to do to make sure your flowers get delivered.
“Just to keep expanding our building,” says Emily, “We just added on that brand new part of our showroom, which we love. That was Miss Katie’s old apartment back there, so we are expanding into that area, and we’re hoping in the spring or late next year sometime to renovate that porch to have customers go out there. We have so much fun with it. Between our gifts, our plants and our arrangements, we just want to keep building onto our showroom and just building onto our facility for our customers to continue to use.”
The Clarreys run just one of an estimated 450 businesses in Okaloosa County. They say its small businesses like theirs which have helped to shape the unique characteristics of Niceville since the city’s founding. “Small business is the heart of all of our communities. We’re the ones giving back to sports and everything in between and helping all of our local organizations.”
This story was prepared in association with the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. You can learn more about the chamber here.
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