She’s in the happy business of flowers

Josie Bruland: 'I will not fail.'

Josie Bruland: ‘I will not fail.’

By Maricar CP Hampton

When Josie Bruland finally realized her dream of starting her own business 17 years ago, she didn’t imagine it will be about flowers.

Heck, she didn’t even know she would become a retail businesswoman until she read an ad for ‘a flower shop in a busy shopping mall’ and made the decision. While some may dismiss it as impulse buying, the Cebu-born Josie prefers to think of it as Divine Providence at work.

“Divine revelation,” she said when interviewed by The FilAm Metro D.C. “I saw the ad, I called up my broker and said I think I am interested.”

Thus was born Bradlee Florist, a familiar storefront at the Bradlee Shopping Center in Alexandria, Virginia, where people are likely to pick up get-well bouquets when visiting the Walter Reed Army Medical Centers or wreaths to take to the Arlington National Cemetery.

She knew absolutely nothing about floral arrangements, much less running a store. In Canada, where she emigrated before coming to the United States, she did office-type jobs right after college. She learned decorating by watching her designers and reading books. It helps that she has a good eye for color and a keen sense of style.

Over the years, she was able to hone her skills at running the flower business through its peak and low seasons. At its height, Bradlee had grown into four shops, which she managed all by herself. Only one store has remained to this day, which enjoys her undivided focus.

Milestones, such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and funerals keep flower shops very busy, and Bradlee is no different.

“The most stressful is Valentine’s Day. You’re talking about 200 to 400 orders in one day,” she said.

Mother’s Day is also frenetic but more manageable because it’s celebrated over a weekend of three days so the orders are spread out. The Christmas season is just the perfect holiday because arrangements are in high demand for holiday parties.

Success did not come easy, she said. There would be staff turnover, rent, shelf life and other challenges. While flowers are a “happy business,” she said it is also a perishable commodity with a very limited shelf life.

“I always remembered when the former owner said ‘you might fail,’ the word fail stayed in my mind and I said, No I will not. I will not fail,” she said.

In their D.C. home, Josie and her husband of 38 years, Hans, are just enjoying their time together secure in the thought they have each other and all the time in the world to smell the flowers.

Just  a couple of Bradlee's flower arrangements

Just a couple of Bradlee’s flower arrangements

One Comment

  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    This article is an inspiring story about a woman who had taken a chance to start a new venture as a florist and succeeded as a business woman in her own rights.

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