Business blooms for Princeville florist

PRINCEVILLE — Hidden among the anthuriums, lilies and ornamental ginger at a small kiosk in the Princeville Shopping Center are big ambitions.

As the only full-service florist north of Kapa‘a, Kauai Floral Arts’ business has grown exponentially since owner Laurel Randolph opened the outdoor shop last December.

This month alone, Kauai Floral Arts has booked 24 weddings — from small hand-held bouquets to full displays for ceremonies and receptions.

Deliveries range from local drop-offs to Mainland shipments.

And the list of hotels and vacation rental customers that receive both fresh and artificial silk arrangements is expanding monthly.

While the kiosk is relatively new, Randolph started Kauai Floral Arts in 2003 out of a nearby studio that she still uses for off-site work and larger jobs. The petite, polished florist worked primarily as an independent contractor for resort and real estate customers.

These days the shop provides a balance of corporate and retail clientele that marries well with Randolph’s 25 years’ experience, which spans Italy, New York, Los Angeles and now Hawai‘i.

In pursuit of a career change, Randolph opted out of the trade show and convention industry in the ’80s and went back to school to pursue her passion: flowers.

After studying floral design at The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, Randolph started a business in Connecticut. A few years later she returned to New York to work as the corporate florist for the Millennium Hilton in the financial district of Manhattan.

The hotel closed for a period following 9/11, and by 2003, Randolph found herself planning a move to Kaua‘i.

For three years, she grew Kauai Floral Arts from her Princeville studio. But the urge to broaden the business base and open a retail shop led her to the Princeville Shopping Center.

Randolph said she knew that’s where the shop had to be located. When the kiosk became available — it was previously a tourist information center — Randolph jumped at the chance.

Her staff of “flower mavens” has also blossomed over the past six months. The shop now employs five full- and part-time workers, all of whom bring different skills to the table.

“It’s really a team effort,” Randolph said.

Ann Corrigan, who has experience with floral arrangement, said Randolph has taught the staff a lot about the craft.

“She’s an artist when it comes to flowers,” Corrigan said.

Foot traffic through the area has more than tripled in the last few months alone, and both Corrigan and Randolph attribute it to the kiosk’s curb appeal.

“It’s an absolutely fun, bright, happy place,” Randolph said.

Displayed around the kiosk are varieties of tropical flowers that like the heat as well as orchid arrangements.

Randolph works with three Kaua‘i growers, who provide many of the fresh cut tropicals, and she orders from neighbor islands for special varieties.

Complementing the Hawaiian flowers are classics such as lilies and roses, which are kept in the cooler on-site.

But the list doesn’t stop there.

Barring seasonal or budget obstacles, Randolph gets her clients what they want.

“We have the opportunity to obtain any flower you can possibly think of,” she said.

Blending in with the real stuff at the shop are a number of artificial displays.

Randolph said the variety and quality of silk arrangements sets her shop apart from others on-island.

She keeps more than 1,000 stems of artificial flowers at the studio and has a custom catalog of designs ranging in price from $65 to $125.

“No one does artificials like we do,” she said.

Whether clients approach her to celebrate new beginnings, honor the memory of a loved one or just brighten a room, Randolph said she enjoys being able to add something to their lives.

“I love to give them beauty,” Randolph said.

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