Homegrown Business: Jessica Mailas of Edgewood Florist

We had the opportunity to speak to Jessica Mailas, the manager of Edgewood Florist, where fresh flowers and plants have been brightening lives since 1956. In this interview, she shares her unique perspective on being part of a family legacy. Originally started by her grandfather, the business is now in the hands of their mother and uncle, making them the third generation involved. Despite the occasional differences that come with family businesses, Jessica emphasizes the joy and fulfilment that come from working alongside loved ones.

Edgewood Florist

What is your business called and what does it do?

Edgewood is a retail florist: We offer fresh flowers and plants to the public as well as for events.

What made you want to do this work?

My grandfather started the business in 1956 and it is currently owned by my mother and my uncle, making me the third generation to be involved. I gravitated to this work above other career paths as I have such a close relationship to my family. Family businesses can be complex, and there are always those moments when we don’t see eye-to-eye, but at the end of the day, it is such a pleasure to work alongside them.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

While I don’t believe the business was started with the intention of solving a problem – my grandfather immigrated here from the Netherlands and wanted to continue working with flowers as he had done over there – a problem I like to think we solve these days is how to reach out to people thoughtfully. Sending flowers is such a warm and touching way to celebrate, to thank people, to let someone know you’re thinking of them. It’s a gift that is always appreciated.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Our client base is really far-ranging, and even includes multiple generations of families! In addition to our Montreal-based customers, we receive calls from all over Canada and the United States, and as far away as Switzerland and Israel!

How does your business make money? How does it work?

As we are a retail enterprise, our operations follow that model. We source products (flowers, greenery, vases/containers) from our suppliers, mark them up to cover our own costs and sell them to the public.

Where in the city can we find your profession?

We have been located in Lachine for the last year and a half. For several decades until 2012, we owned a large compound with greenhouses in Cote Saint-Luc that was quite the destination! Our customers still speak of it fondly.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

People will often ask how ordering flowers through a large web-based company compares to contacting a local florist directly. While the convenience of ordering through a website that may have thousands of choices seems tempting, so much of your money is lost to middlemen’s fees, and there is virtually no control over who ultimately designs and delivers your flowers. By working with a local florist, you speak directly to the team who will create your arrangement, and they often have an in-house delivery driver who will make sure that the flowers reach their destination safely (instead of possibly being left outside in sub-zero temperatures, for instance.) There is a commitment to quality and service with local florists that simply isn’t present with their web-based competitors. Always shop local!

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part is being able to take part in so many happy moments. Our flowers have been in our customers’ homes when new babies arrive, when milestone birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, when illnesses are overcome. It’s really an honour.
The worst part is that flowers, in all their beauty, are still perishable items. Part of the job is having to deal with a product that occasionally is not up to standard. For example, if we special-order certain flowers for an event and they arrive with brown spots, it results in a last-minute scramble that is never fun!

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

As with any profession, it can be difficult to maintain a work-life balance, especially when you are self-employed. As a reminder to maintain perspective and to not over-extend ourselves, I always joke to my mother “Remember, we’re not doctors!”

Where can we follow you?

Our Instagram is the platform that is most frequently updated.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

Our neighbours on Notre Dame: Rose Citron (621 rue Notre-Dame, Lachine) is a zero-waste café and boutique with their own line of skincare, personal care and bath products. They have such a bright and beautiful space!

Yalla Habibi just opened up right next to us (685 rue Notre-Dame, Lachine) and they make the most delicious, fresh Moroccan and Middle Eastern food. I could eat there every day!

 

About Emilea Semancik 64 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: