couple Del Ray opens floral design business | Alexandria Hours


By Missy Schrott | [email protected]

Husband and wife duo Mark and Amy Eggers developed a small business out of their mutual love for plants and their long history in the Del Ray neighborhood.

The couple met 30 years ago while attending Fairfax County High School. Last year, after nearly 20 years of marriage, they planted the seeds for their bespoke floral design business.

“Basically we were always trying to find something that we could do together because we are really, in fact, friends besides being married,” Amy said. “We like to work on projects together and be creative, things like that, so we just thought, ‘Oh, wow, that would be really fun doing flowers. “”

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FLORA Roots & Stems offers free delivery of bouquets and arrangements to its customers in Alexandria. (Courtesy photo)

Since starting their two-person custom flower design business last spring under the name GIVE Del Ray, the Eggers have expanded their business to include indoor plant sales and consultations. They were recently renamed FLORA Roots & Stems.

Amy has been designing flower arrangements since 1995, but her passion for plants goes back even further, to her grandparents’ rose garden in Del Ray.

“My dad, his parents, and his siblings grew up on Randolph Avenue,” Amy said. “My grandmother was super creative. … It appeared in an article in ‘The Evening Star’ in 1958 but for decorating cakes. She has always been very creative, and I was with her growing up a bit. “

Amy said it was her grandmother who first taught her flower arrangements. Additionally, her grandfather had been doing commercial real estate business in Del Ray since the 1940s.

“So that we not only live in the same neighborhood as them, but that we have the chance to be business people in this neighborhood and to contribute to the local economy, I think that [is] super cool, ”Amy said.

In addition to what she learned from her grandmother, Amy has honed her botanical expertise over the years through books and online courses. Initially, Amy and Mark’s vision for their business was to create a subscription and flower delivery service.

One of Amy’s ‘long and low’ floral centerpieces. Amy designs the arrangements so that they can sit on a dining table during a meal without interfering with the service of the dishes or the conversations of the guests. (Courtesy photo)

“We’ve always loved gardening and plants,” said Mark. “It started out like flowers. We started with the idea that in this neighborhood, we would sell fresh cut flowers and deliver them by bike to the neighborhood. Would do very well in this neighborhood.

While the bicycle vision did not materialize, Mark and Amy gained a foothold in the local business community by selling flowers at a Del Ray Business Association market last spring.

“[DRBA] to put[s] in those big pop-up markets for all the small businesses that don’t have a physical presence, ”Amy said,“ and it’s so helpful because it’s really financially prohibitive to get real estate on the avenue to start.

Exposure was one of the main challenges Amy and Mark faced at first, as FLORA is based out of their home on East Duncan Avenue. Eventually, however, they began to grow their customer base with the help of DRBA markets, social media, word of mouth referrals, and charity events.

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An aerial plant mounted on a piece of wood. Air plants get their moisture from the air and do not require pots or potting soil. (Photo credit: Missy Schrott)

As FLORA grew, the couple received more and more orders for personalized flower arrangements, especially during the holidays.

“I love, I love, I love doing statement pieces,” Amy said. “I like seasonal things – I mean, who doesn’t? The color of the flowers that can be found here, especially at wholesalers, it’s just amazing. I made this arrangement for Pork Barrell BBQ with the chicken in it and then as a small bucket. … Really, I like responding to people’s requests. It’s really gratifying for me.

Amy said flower arrangements can cost anywhere from $ 45 to $ 200, depending on the size and type of flower.

This year, FLORA has added indoor plant sales and consultations to its products, which also include flower bouquets and centerpieces. The Eggers’ house has become a showcase for the plants they offer, as large as palm trees and as small as succulents. They also offer a variety of air plants – plants that get moisture from the air and don’t require pots or potting soil – in different hanging containers for small spaces.

Mark said air plants are his favorite product to work with because they are so versatile. While Amy’s specialty is flower arrangements, hers is finding unusual items to act as plant holders.

“We are always on the lookout for interesting vessels,” said Mark. “And most of the time, what we’re going to find or what we’re looking for isn’t necessarily something that’s supposed to be a planter or whatever.”

Some ships have included antique cookware, reclaimed wood, and old toys. Due to the creative nature of some of their products, Eggers often sell from their personal inventory.

The Eggers like to find interesting ships to act as plant holders. (Photo credit: Missy Schrott)

“That thing on the wall?” It’s called a deer’s horn, ”Mark said, pointing to a green leafy plant mounted on a piece of wood and hung on their wall. “We did this. We could probably sell it and make another one, you know what I mean? We can have things right around here that’s in stock.

Amy said her favorite thing about selling houseplants was educating her customers.

“Basically I know [plants] are a little scary, ”Amy said. “Airplane succulents are sort of unknown, cacti are a bit prickly, but I just want to show people who say, ‘Oh, I have a black thumb,’ and it’s like, ‘No, really not, it’s probably the wrong floor, the wrong place in your house, the wrong temperature.

Amy will share her expertise during a special floral design workshop this Saturday at the Bon Vivant Café and Farm Market. Tickets cost $ 49 and include supplies and instructions to create a floral centerpiece that attendees can use for Easter meals.

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A row of flower arrangements by Amy Eggers. (Courtesy photo)

“My goal is to teach people to create the long, low arrangements they can keep on the table during their meals, and it’s not going to interfere with their serving dishes or your conversation with your other guests,” said Amy. “Normally if you order something like this on[line], that would be at least $ 60 to $ 70, so [at the workshop you get to make] yours for less with locally sourced flowers too.

Amy and Mark get most of their flowers and plants from a local wholesaler. They also worked to source flowers from a local Del Ray resident who has a flower farm in his backyard called Grangel Farm.

Amy said she hopes to continue doing different workshops and classes. Before Mother’s Day, she and Mark teach their son Henry’s Kindergarten class at Mount Vernon Community School for a short lesson in plants.

Plus, on the horizon, Amy said she plans to start working with local restaurants and hotels.

“I’m going to make a big effort in hotels, salons, restaurants in the area, things like that, to advertise services for the supply of plants and flowers on a regular, seasonal or one-off basis,” said Amy. “Just because sometimes you go to a restaurant and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, no one has watered this plant in two months.’ “

Looking ahead, Mark said he hasn’t given up on his dream of delivering flowers by bicycle.

Henry, Amy and Mark’s 6-year-old son, enjoys sprucing up his parents’ houseplants with his toys. “It’s good, absolutely good,” Amy said. “It is also his home. (Photo credit: Missy Schrott)

“Really, I would love to ride a bike someday, but we’re not there yet,” Mark said. “When we have enough people signing up for flower delivery, yes sure I would love to. Everything is better by bike. She wouldn’t say that, but I say that.

To learn more about FLORA, Roots & Stems products and services, visit their website, follow them on Instagram @flora_roots_and_stems or grab them at the DRBA markets this spring and summer. The next market will be on May 5th.

“Our mission, if you will, is just to bring flowers and plants into as many lives as possible,” Amy said. “It’s something I’m passionate about teaching people, so the more I learn, the fairer I’m, I’m excited.”

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