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									A Bi-Monthly Publication of The Los Angeles Flower Market of the American Florists Exchange, Ltd.
January – February 2005 • Volume 14 – Number 1

Paradise Florist in Los Angeles
Downtown Elegance with a Downhome Smile
“Just blink your lights twice, so I spot your car, and slow down in front of the building, and I'll be there,” was how he met one of his good, regular customers recently. A friendly way to deliver customer service. Jose has been in the retail floral business since 1988, when he opened his first Paradise Florist shop in Norwalk, CA. In 1997, he opened the second Paradise Florist location, this one in the shopping center at Seventh and Figueroa streets (called 7 & Fig) in downtown Los Angeles. Back in the late '80s, when he was majoring in horticulture at Cerritos College, Jose found himself taking the advice of his career counselor to sign up for a floral design class. The instructor was Allan Zylstra of Flowers by Allan, in Norwalk, who was known for his creative wedding arrangements. Allan pumped so much fun and learning into the program that the love affair between floral design and Jose Velez got a good, strong start. It helped that Jose's father was a floral buyer and that his mother and sisters always received beautiful flowers for birthdays and other occasions. He was surrounded by beautiful, fresh flowers. “That's where and how I got the bug,” Jose recalls. “And Jose Velez, left, and Michael Bergman, at 7 & Fig then one of my dad's regular florists, Roger Curtis, was selling his shop in Norwalk and my dad asked if I was interested in the business. I was.” Then in 1997, with encouragement from his family and his friend, Michael Bergman, who became general manager and whose “gift of gab” sells lots of flowers even today, Jose began the new venture at 7 & Fig. Jose's career is an example of what start-up retailers can do if they invest good customer service, hard work and sound management style in their new businesses. The downtown location spent its first year getting established. Other florists in the area had come and gone, and Paradise Florist had to prove itself. Gradually, as mall employees and shoppers came to realize that the Paradise name remained and consistently
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J

ose Velez has a winning way about him. He's a straightforward kind of guy and his interest in what kind of floral arrangement you envision is obvious.

He's sincere, helpful and he wants to please you. Aside from making you happy, he wouldn't mind if his design becomes a memorable event of its own, a demonstration of the love he has for floral design. Charismatic to a comfortable degree, he'll greet you with a smile. If you're in a big hurry and he knows you as a regular customer, he might even walk downstairs from his second level spot in the mall at 7 & Fig and meet you as you drive by in 5 o'clock downtown traffic.

What’s

INSIDE

3 In The Market 4 People 6 Education Today 8 Potpourri 10 Online Today 16 Calendar of Events

Paradise Florist

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a validation of knowledge and skill.” In a word to aspiring retail florists (and designers), Jose believes it's important to have stepping stones. The Norwalk retail shop stone was and his his stepping training

provided the freshest flowers and creative designs, the 7 & Fig location began to generate more new and repeat business. Today, the little downtown shop with its prime location and great visibility services a couple dozen weekly corporate accounts, weddings, special events, walk-in customers and generates some profitable event projects on the side. “Vignettes fly out of here fast,” Jose says, referring to little vases and nosegays. A small, simple $20 arrangement can be refilled for $10, making it easy for mall employees to always have fresh flowers on their counters. “I'm blessed that many people who work here come in often, for refills and new arrangements.” There are two things that drive customers back to Paradise Florist: First, of course, is the flowers. They're always fresh (how nice to have the shop located just minutes from the Los Angeles Flower Market, which Jose visits three times a week) and always exquisitely designed. The other is, again, Jose's genuine customer friendliness. Witness all those people shopping in the mall, waving to him as they walk by, positive buying experiences forming a strong connection with someone who is on a first-name basis with them and always makes sure they have fresh, lasting flowers. As a designer, Jose's work has elicited many oohs and aahs through the years. Wedding flowers he arranged for a woman who works in the shopping center were showcased in a wedding magazine. And Paradise Florist was First Runner-Up Best Florist in the Best of Downtown Los Angeles in 2003. “You have to be inspired 52 weeks a year to come up with something creative and special,” says Jose, “and flowers, as a luxury item, must be hearty, healthy and beautiful. One thing about the (Los Angeles) Flower Market is that you can pretty much get any flower any time of the year, even when it's not in season.” At the age of forty, Jose is once again in a state of future vision and change. In January 2005, he'll be relocating the 7 & Fig shop just a few steps away in a larger area in the mall. A new website at ParadiseFloristLA.com will soon be introduced. And, best of all, Jose, who already has an Associate of Arts degree in Horticulture, has decided to pursue American Institute of Floral Design accreditation. “It's a small community, and many designers have offered to help with letters of recommendation,” he says, encouraged by support from those he's worked with. “It's a personal goal and

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camp, where he learned shop management and customer service. Learning from good designers is key to becoming a good designer. Even high end, high style floral designs can be scaled down to manageable, affordable presentations for the rest of us, so every designer can learn from the masters. Jose still looks highly up to people who have been in business for years and says that “certain florists still inspire” him. But really, it's Jose Velez who inspires us.

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Mailing List LA Flower Market 766 Wall Street Los Angeles, CA 90014
Phone: 213 622-0796 Fax: 213 229-0149
Please include your mailing label.

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January – February 2005 The Bloomin’ News 15


								
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