KENILWORTH, NJ - Twenty years ago, on October 7, Especially Yours Florist opened its doors. Since that day this local florist shop has been a staple in the Kenilworth community creating flower arrangements and floral gifts for numerous occasions and celebrations. Owner Cindy Baker Southern spoke to TAPinto Kenilworth to tell her story how it all began.
Starting a business 20 years ago was the scariest thing I have ever done. Not sure of what would be ahead of me, I was positive I would give it my all. My first year open brought challenges I did not expect. My sister Jaye Shear found out she had breast cancer and would leave working with me. I hired a driver, Sharon Iscaro to help out, and nineteen years later we are still together. She became shop help, a designer, and my friend. We went through the tragedy of 9-11, and helped raise money for the first responders, and then we had a fire in the front of the shop!
Having gone through a tough first year, I realize none of it mattered if we didn’t give back. We support school and town fundraising, we collect toiletries for the veterans, we have helped the people directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and we help support the Giving Box at Overlook Hospital Cancer Center. We have sent roses to the Cancer center to hand out to the patients to hopefully feel they are not alone. We have also been an active part of Kenilworth’s Relay for Life.
Joey Ferrara joined the shop six years ago and has become such a big part of our success. He knows our customers and treats them like his own family. This helps in the situation we are in today. Having a small business during a pandemic is a challenge. Again, not sure of what would be ahead of me, I sold and delivered red bows around town for support against the virus, and was able to donate to the Fire Department from that. In the beginning months of COVID-19 I moved my work area to the window and tried to put smiles on faces when families were taking walks. We are trying to be optimistic for the future. Not wanting to let the virus stop Santa from coming to the shop, as he has done the past ten years, we are figuring out how to do this socially distanced. We are having a large sleigh built, and you can take your pictures outside. The children can still talk to Santa, but pictures this year will be a little different. Santa will be in the front of the sleigh, and the kids behind him. We can’t wait as it is always fun. The best part for us is seeing the kids every year and how much they have grown!
So if you asked me 35 years ago when I first became a florist, if I would I own my own shop and would have it for 20 years, and would it be my best decision ever….I would have said you were crazy! But I am here to tell you it has been the best decision and I wouldn’t change any of it. This is because the customers and friends I have made make it all worthwhile. I have been fortunate to be part of your engagements, weddings, birthdays, babies, and even losses. I have been happy for you and cried with you. I feel in my heart what you feel, and I am so very thankful to have a job that allows me to somehow make a difference in a small way.
On October 7 Especially Yours will be handing out a free rose bouquet to anyone who stops in. “Because of you, I stand as a small business in Kenilworth” Southern concluded. “Stop in the shop and help us in celebrating our 20th Anniversary. Thank you to all my customers, old and new. You have made a difference in my life.”