Bloom & Co. is about more than just the popular NOTL ball cap. But that is a huge seller
Two Niagara entrepreneurs have proven that one-plus-one can make three.
Kalin Falconer and Nataschia Wielink, each had their own thriving wedding service businesses in Niagara-on-the-Lake, when a colleague suggested the two should meet and talk shop.
They had a coffee at The Pie Plate in Virgil.
Two years of relationship and idea building led the new partners to open Bloom & Co., a lifestyle boutique, nestled in a small building in the shadow of the busy corner at Four Mile Creek and York roads, in St. Davids. They just celebrated the Bloom & Co.’s third anniversary.
Falconer, 31, was, and still is, an event florist. When she spoke to The Lake Report, she didn’t pause a beat in her floral preparation for an upcoming wedding across the street at Ravine Winery.
Wielink, 43, remains a professional photographer, specializing in weddings and commercial promotional images. And they both share the retail business.
It is not easy to define just what Bloom & Co. is.
Google Maps calls it a home goods store. But it seems to be much more than that.
The two proprietors throw out a smattering of descriptors to put edges around what they offer: “Our items will either enhance your space by the way they are used or by the way they make you feel,” says Falconer, as she strips dozens of white roses in her bright, back-of-the-store floral workroom.
“Well made. Beautiful. Unique. Things we like. Simple and unfussy. Relaxed. A little understated.”
Their front-window sign calls it Curated Living. The website adds, “that lends a laid-back nod to sophisticated style.”
“It is a sort of collection,” says Wielink, who once had a desk in the workroom, but it has long since been lost to things floral. “When we bring in new things, we think about how they will go with the rest.”
Wielink was born and raised in Beamsville and now makes her home with her husband of 26 years in St. Catharines. She is the third of seven children of a truck-driving father and a stay-at-home mother. She and her husband have three grown children.
Wielink kind of sidled into the photography business. When their youngest child was a year old, she took a few photography courses at Mohawk College in Hamilton.
“People heard that I had a camera. I started with families and then a few weddings. One summer my husband said: ‘I think you have a business now.’ ”
“Today I shoot more commercial things — a lot for wineries. I help them with their social media photography. I really love food and drink photography.”
Photography takes 70 per cent of her time, Bloom & Co. retail, 30 per cent.
Falconer calls herself an event florist. She was born and raised in St. Davids, attending St. Davids Public School and Niagara District. Her mother works as an admin professional at Prince Phillip elementary school in Niagara Falls. Her father is an auto mechanic. She has two younger sisters, living and working in the region.
She came to the floral industry in a roundabout manner.
While studying interior design at Fanshaw College in London, Ont., she started working part-time at a flower shop.
“I fell into it that way. I liked working with the fresh product. I call myself an event florist — a lot of events production and design. We don’t sell flowers at Bloom & Co.”
Throughout the conversation, Falconer doesn’t stop preparing hundreds of white flowers for the weekend celebration.
One suspects it is always this way for the two entrepreneurs — juggling the needs of three busy businesses.
By definition, synergy is a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. That’s the way Bloom & Co. feels.
And it is not static. They are always open to new ideas.
When the pair were in Nashville on a brief vacation, they both bought ball caps that boldly said NASH above the visor. It was an “aha” moment for both.
“We both said: ‘That’s really neat, at the same time,’ ” remembers Falconer. “We knew it would totally be a popular thing in our town, for both locals and tourists.”
Today, they also sell NOTL pennants, toques, tote bags and pins, but the NOTL ball cap is one of the shop’s best-selling items.
The women are thoughtful when asked about the store’s location. They both respond at once.
“We’re a little out of the way for some people,” Falconer starts. “But we have a loyal customer base and people come out to see us,” Wielink continues.
Then Falconer: “It is a busy corner, so we get lots of visibility.” Wielink finishes the collective thought: “And we’re paying a fraction of what we would be paying in Old Town.”
Almost like one mind.
They would love to have a café on one of the nearby street corners, just to add traffic. But a fourth business isn’t in the cards right now.
“We would do it ourselves — maybe someday — but I really don’t want to get up early to make someone else’s coffee,” says Falconer. “We could do it right next door, but we’re not ready to pull the trigger.”
Two highly creative people, making it happen.