As Valentine’s Day approaches, Belfiore Flower’s Minoo Banaei expects this week to be busy and emotional.
It’s at the best and worst of times that even with thousands of English words at our disposal, we sometimes can’t find the right one to adequately describe how we feel.
It is at these times that we offer flowers.
This is also why Minoo Banaei chose to spend his life arranging and selling flowers at Belfiore Flowers on Elgin Street.
An artist and entrepreneur, Banaei is a florist who connects with customers on an emotional level. And with Valentine’s Day, the busiest time of the year for florists, fast approaching, Banaei expects this week to be an emotional experience.
“Valentine’s Day is a big day in the florist industry because people like to give flowers during the best and worst times of their lives,” Banaei says. “We sell emotion. It can be a happy or a sad occasion. People give flowers at weddings and funerals. I prefer the happy occasion, but it’s not my choice. Sometimes we have to make the occasion heartbreaking.
A kindergarten teacher in a previous life, Banaei studied floral design and worked at Belfiore Flowers for 10 years before buying the company in 2012.
She’s since transformed the flower shop into a space resembling an antique shop or artist’s studio, with splashes of colorful flowers posed in unusually striking arrangements in striking vases.
Irises, bamboo, lisianthus, forsythia, anemones, roses and cherry blossoms are displayed in antique ceramic and copper pots, white birch blocks and recycled materials. People walk into the store every day just to see what unusual sculptural bouquets she created that day.
“The store is as much [a] community center like [it is a] florist,” Banaei says. “People come here, we chat, my clients are my friends and my clients. They come here sometimes to talk. Children play in the store. I like being around people. They trust me because they know I’m crazy about flowers.
Banaei says she is also concerned about the environment. Recycling has become an important part of his creative process. You can see samples of his work on his site https://belfiore.shop.
“We recycle everything in nature,” she adds. “I love working with my hands, being creative and connecting with people. My husband loves carpentry and gardening, so we’re always making something.
Almost half of the flowers she uses come from local greenhouses and greenhouses in southern Ontario.
Growing flowers in heated greenhouses during a Canadian winter is expensive, but for Banaei and its customers, it’s worth the price if it leaves a lower carbon footprint on the environment and supports local entrepreneurs.
“We have roses for Valentine’s Day, but it’s hard to get roses from Ecuador,” she says. “There is a shortage of flowers and airline deliveries are a problem, especially now. So my goal is to buy as much greenhouse stock within five minutes of my house. It’s more expensive because they have to heat the greenhouses in cold weather, but it’s the right thing to do.
Besides being a creative handcrafted florist, Banaei is a headstrong entrepreneur determined to keep her shop going despite the many biblical challenges she and other Elgin Street vendors have faced over the past five years. including a long period of two years. reconstruction, pandemic shutdowns and most recently the Freedom Convoy. Many more vulnerable restaurants and shops have closed.
Yet Belfiore Flowers has managed to not only survive, but also thrive, thanks in part to Banaei’s solidarity with her community and her persistence in doing whatever she has to do to keep the shop running.
“The road has been bumpy,” she concedes.
The one thing she doesn’t like about having her own business, however, is the paperwork.
“I don’t like accounting, so my husband does that job,” she laughs. “My brain doesn’t work that way at all.”