Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fiore Designs - Your Local Venice Flower Purveyor

"If someone loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows, in all the millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars ..." That has always been one of my favorite quotes from The Little Prince, and one that I think of each time I go to Fiore Designs, often to get a single blossom to love. There's something so nice about having a beautiful flower in a bud vase to look at whenever you need some beauty in your life. Which is pretty much always.

Fiore Designs is a Venice flower shop, founded and operated by Venice ladies, Jennifer Juhos and Nicole Renna. We've all been friends for ages, so it makes me so happy to see them realizing their dreams, right here in our own neighborhood - and beyond.

Juhos is an L.A. girl, born and raised, and as it's warm here most all year round (besides this week!), she was always surrounded by flowers. She loved flowers. She worked at flower shops, learning how to make gorgeous arrangements under their designers, and after graduating from USC, she started her own flower business out of her Dad's garage. The business grew fast, and soon Juhos had her Fiore Designs own real store in Studio City.

After 12 years of beautifying Studio City, Juhos met her husband, Colin (not him pictured above. That's my brother, Paul, cutting up), who lived in Venice. Which meant that she soon lived in Venice, and opened the new Fiore shop on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in 2010 (before it got as nuts as it is now). That darling little cottage was almost directly across the street from me, so I'd pop in there often, both to see my friends and to get myself a flower, or a party stopping bouquet to bring to a shindig. It was a great addition to the block, and friend-owned!

As Fiore became a full-scale operation, growing well beyond just bouquets, and on up into corporate events, creating large scale environments for events like conventions, weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, building sets for photo shoots, productions, storefronts, company gifting, and all the things in life that need flowers and greenery and lovely decor ... Juhos soon realized she needed someone to help her visions come to life. Maybe someone with a background in big productions. Maybe someone that already loved accompanying her downtown to the Flower Mart whenever she was in town. Maybe dear friend Renna, who was in the midst of changing careers and coasts - from film production in New York, to she didn't know what in Venice, just that it had to be Venice again. The timing was perfect for her to make the leap and join her friend as her partner in Fiore. And all this happened shortly after she told another friend how, "I just want to have like a flower shop in Venice or something." Bam. Stars aligned.

Soon thereafter, they expanded to the Pacific Palisades, which really brought both the ladies, and the business together. The Palisades location was relatively short-lived, as let's face it, it's not Venice, and they grew tired of running all over town to be everywhere at once, and got bought out to focus on all the events and the Venice shop. The Venice shop that would soon move to it's new, current location on Pacific Avenue and Brooks.

Abbot Kinney was going crazy (as we all know), and as locals don't even really go there anymore if we can help it (besides to the token few favorites remaining), the writing was on the wall, and the Fiore gals decided to cut out early and build their home base over on Pacific, even closer to the beach that they both love. Sharing the adorable block with the surf shop, General Admission, Fiore Designs opened in the new location last December, with an extra-fun mulled wine and champagne party that was so fun we almost forgot we were in a place of business ... except for all the exquisite floral arrangements that we partied amongst.

The new space has more of a Brooklyn or European vibe, with its exposed brick walls and high ceilings. The shelves are lined with wonderful gifts (including books, bath, candles, CHOCOLATE...) that Juhos and Renna curated from gift shows in Paris and London, gaining inspiration all along their trips from store windows to street signs. They carry products that they made sure were not available anywhere else in the United States, so that Fiore can be a truly unique destination (even online).

"Venice is our home. We want Fiore to grow here," explained Juhos, adding that they hear customers come in all day long from their office loft above the shop, all saying, "It's so nice to be in a real flower shop, right around the corner!" It feels cozy. It feels neighborhoody. It's right up the street from the beach, so you can smell the salty air and feel the sunshine as you walk home carrying your bundle of floral joy, and probably wave at a friend that you pass by. Because this place is part of a community, that as far as Juhos and Renna are concerned, still very much exists.

"When you go out to parties, restaurants, coffee shops, you still see people you know everywhere you go. People support each other and their businesses here, and no matter what, it's still an AMAZING community," Renna insisted, truthfully. Juhos added, "L.A. is so big, but this is still the one place left that still feels like a neighborhood." She explained that she and her husband's favorite thing to do on a day off is just get on their bikes and see where the day takes you ... the bike path, mimosas, bump into a friend, stop by their place, grab people for food, bike to the sunset ... those kind of perfect Venice days where anything can happen. I knew exactly what she meant (mainly because we've all been together on those kinds of days!).

The local businesses they support by patronizing, support them back by ordering flowers. Tasting Kitchen, Hourglass, James Beach ... all places they love, loving them back. That's how Community works. When we talked about longtime, beloved businesses and friends getting priced out of Venice, we all agreed that it's sad and wrong, but you can't give up on Venice. "What I love is the essence of Venice. It's not just one place ... my backyard is one of my favorite places, because you can feel that essence just in the air," Juhos told me. And she's right. You can also feel the love in the air, as the attention to detail and sheer beauty of the things they create can only be done with love. Just in time for Valentine's Day (for which the ladies are more than happy to assist you sometimes clueless gentlemen!)

You for sure get that Venice essence - and love - within the almost Boardwalk-adjacent Fiore at No. 907 Pacific ... where Renna invited everyone to "Come in! Visit! Feel the vibes! Smell the flowers! You are WELCOME."  Juhos added, "We put a little Venice pixie dust in everything we do." And you can feel it.

Fiore Designs
No. 907 Pacific Ave.
Instagram: @Fioredesigns

*PS - When telling the ladies about my series of stories about taking cool classes in Venice, they said they can do flower arranging classes/workshops for groups (like you and your friend's birthday party), with wine, and cheese, and flowers, and skills. Yes! Contact Fiore to arrange.

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