Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.
Interview with Cleveland Florist, Stems Fleur
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Robertson, the owner of Cleveland Heights, Ohio florist Stems Fleur. Immediately upon walking into the new storefront in Cleveland Hts., it struck me that that it is not your standard florist shop.
It is much more modern, slightly edgy yet inviting, and a bit unexpected. This, coupled with Scott’s creativity and generous spirit, made for a delightful visit.
On top of all this, there is much more than meets the eye. Besides the standard fare that you would expect from a florist, Scott also offers a vast array of design services, both indoors and outdoors. Creativity has no limit!
Raffaele: Tell me a little bit about your business, what you do, the services you provide?
Scott: So we are Stems Fleur. I came up with the name because I like the idea of the stems on flowers. Because I also think that from that, we can branch off so we can say that good design stems from…or we can branch off into garden design and interior plant design.
All things that stem from our core. So that’s where I got that name. Then we also added Fleur because Chet speaks fluent French. We thought it would add a little charm. Some people don’t know what it means, so it’s good for conversation.
I’ve been designing with flowers for 27 years. And I worked for another company in Cleveland, and that wasn’t the best fit so I started my business in our basement in Shaker in our house.
And got the website going and I was in the basement designing, hitting my head on the beams all the time. It was horrible but I did it. So I did that for…well over a year.
Then we grew and moved to the design studio in Ohio City. So it was a big warehouse space. That was fun, but it wasn’t good for retail and meeting with customers. I’ve always had this dream of a retail space because I like meeting with clients and customers.
But we do everything from flowers delivered and more. We have a little more of a modern take than other florists in the area. It’s designs that I learned from when I lived in New York City. So I tried to bring that look and feel to Cleveland Heights.
Raffaele: How long were you in your old studio?
Scott: We were there for a year, and then this opportunity came up. This way I can have plants, and I can sell plants and meet people and still work here. The other space wasn’t conducive to brides coming in for a consultation.
Raffaele: So tell me how you got started in the business, and what are some of the services that you provide?
Scott: So I started gardening when I was about 10 years old at my parent’s house, and I started with a little pond that I built. And I would get on my bike and ride down the hill to the next little town where there was a family owned garden center.
Buy one little plant. Ride back up the hill. Take it home and experiment and plant and grow. I had some koi fish, and it just started my obsession with gardening.
And from there, I would cut things from the yard and bring them in the house and make arrangements. And then one of my first jobs, I think I was 18, I worked for a plant company here in Cleveland.
And I had a little Chevette and I drove around to airports and offices. I cleaned plants and turned them and watered them, cut the leaves, and I did not like that job at all!
I liked taking care of plants, but I didn’t like the job itself. But the company also had a retail florist space and I asked them “if you give me a chance, I can do this.”
And I picked up the design part pretty quickly. Then I worked for several different people throughout the years and I got a lot of experience.
So all of these different companies that I’ve worked for and all the jobs that I’ve had have given me experience to have my own business.
We do flowers delivered. Fresh flowers throughout the area. So you can order online and have them delivered, or pick them up here.
Raffaele: And the website is www.stemsfleur.com ?
Scott: www.stemsfleur.com And we also do exterior plantings. Seasonal ones. We also do custom designs as well. If you ever go to Eton Collection during the holiday season, you’ll see some of the dresses I’ve made.
A lot of foliage. We’ve designed two of the orchid shows at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens as well as working on the Glow shows.
They’ve had me do some sculptures in the front, and I also did this past Spring show. So that’s another one of our services. Creative design. Creative consulting.
We also do events and weddings so any kind of wedding that you’re thinking of. Every one is custom. So you can come in and meet with us, or email us if it’s a simple design or if it’s something that we can do over email.
Raffaele: So you are at this point a full service florist as far as cut flowers, arrangements, pots, design indoors and outdoors.
Scott: Yes, and custom designs. I’ve done some custom centerpieces and home decor. Those are some of the things that I love doing.
Raffaele: And is it all local? Or do you ship as well?
Scott: We can ship. There are some things that we can’t. But some things we can ship all over. And now we are offering plants for sale. We have a wide variety of plants now.
Raffaele: As far as shipping goes, is it across the country?
Scott: It really does depend on what someone wants. If it is something that is not living, that is solidly made, we can ship. Live plants is very tricky for us because they can be killed in shipping.
Especially during the winter. But we do deliver around the Cleveland area around Cuyahoga county. I have shipped custom wall pieces that I’ve made, moss wall pieces or other items.
Raffaele: Tell me a little bit, besides the houseplants, of some of the other things that you sell in your store.
Scott: In here we have a nice variety of interesting vases and planters. Some giftware things. Some ready made plants that I’ve put into some ceramic containers and I’ve finished them off with some stones or moss.
It’s not like you’re just going to a garden center. It’s more of a finished gift. And if you come in, we’ll put it in a nice box or bag that you can give to someone.
We also have ready-made floral designs in our cooler. Someone can walk in and just grab it.
Raffaele: Before we get to the houseplants soon, what would you say is the most challenging part of being a florist or a business owner?
Scott: There are many challenges! It can be financially tough on the lows. During the low season. When people are off on vacation and they’re not coming in to buy, so that can be tough.
Raffaele: I’m sure having the storefront now should help with that. People tend to buy more houseplants during the winter.
Scott: Yeah. We’ve been selling a lot of plants. A lot of cactus. That seems to be on trend right now.
Raffaele: Cacti and succulents! Yes! How do you determine what plants you’ll carry in the store. Even some of the pots. Do you look at trends? How do you determine that?
Scott: I look at trends, but also Stems Fleur has a little bit more of an edgier modern feel and I also love interior design. So I try and carry things that’s on trend and that I think would look good in someone’s home.
I also try to look at plants that might be a little bit easier for people to care for in their own home, such as cactus, palms and whatnot. And I also want them to be at a price point that people can come in and afford without being too extravagant.
And, I know a decent amount about plants, so if people come in and ask about their plants, I can help them. I’m not a botanist or an expert.
I don’t know all the technical names of the plants, but I do have a general good idea. So I think that’s good because we’re not just selling them a plant without any information.
We give them something to work with. So usually when someone comes in they say “oh I want to buy this cactus but what is the best way to care for it?”
So I’ll talk them through it, and if they’re still not sure, I will print something out for them so that they can take it home.
And I always tell them that they can email me or call if they have any issues with their plants that they bought from me. I can help them figure out the problem.
Raffaele: What are the most popular houseplants that people are buying from your shop?
Scott: Right now there is a trend for interior design for Fiddle Leaf Fig. That’s a big trend. Because of that, they are harder to get and they’re more expensive.
So people come in and see the price of the one we have here and they’re like “oh my gosh!” But it is what it is. In this area there are a lot of apartments in Cleveland Heights, and people have more window sill spaces.
So they’re buying something that will fit in their window sill. Something that they don’t have to care for too much because everyone is busy.
So cacti have been doing pretty well. And we like to put them in cute containers so it’s not just a cactus in your window, but it’s also part of your decor.
Raffaele: So what are some houseplants that you find most challenging to grow, or that you would maybe…if someone asks you what should I grow in my home or apartment…what would you steer them away from?
Scott: I would say plants that need a lot care like ferns. Things that need a lot of love and attention that if they get too much water, they’ll rot.
Or if they’re not getting enough, they’ll dry up. I do carry some ferns here but not a lot. If you are a busy person, I would not get a fern.
They’ll be dead in a week. But there are sturdier plants like Dracaenas, Strelitzia…those kinds of things that are much more hardy.
A little harder to kill and that can be neglected a little in between waterings. And that’s good for someone that is busy.
Raffaele: And any of the succulents, Sansevieria, and all that.
Scott: Sansevieria is another really popular one because of a lot of interior designers are more modern so people like the clean lines plus they’re easy to care for.
Those can dry out as you know in between, they can get low light, which is good. So we’ve sold quite a few of those and I try to get interesting varieties of those in. I also like to use them as architecture.
Just like that one centerpiece that you saw there with the long glass that you can put on your dining room table. I have a client in Chagrin Falls who loves my modern works.
His house is filled with our designs. He trusts me and I even built a 6 foot long low box that we filled with moss from dark to light green moss and it’s perfect in his modern house and he appreciates it.
He also hired us to consult. He’s building an in-ground pool and he hired me to consult on that and hired me to pick out concrete types, tiles that he’s going to use, and all of those little elements.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Stems Fleur, and please visit www.stemsfleur.com if you are in the Cleveland area.
You will not be disappointed! To read about how to propagate succulents, Scott and I also discussed how to propagate succulents in a separate blog post, so check it out!