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Blooms on Boswell

In December of 2018, Lori McNorton was preparing to downsize and slow down after a successful career in the floral industry. When she learned that her friend Bill Lierz would be closing his flower shop at the end of the year, her plans changed. McNorton had always dreamed of having her own shop, and that dream suddenly seemed real enough to reach out and touch.

McNorton moved fast, and by January of 2019, she was the owner of the shop. She worked to connect with the store’s existing customers, while making changes slowly. She updated the store space by rearranging, painting, and introducing new offerings, such as home decor and gift items. She also updated the exterior with an eye-catching, bright blue color to boost curb appeal, and she’s seen a rise in walk-in traffic as a result. She aims to create a boutique experience, with personal service. In June of 2019, she named the shop Blooms on Boswell. 

McNorton’s interest in flowers goes back to her childhood, when she spent time with both of her grandmothers in their beautiful gardens. She attended the Kansas School of Floral Design in Lawrence, Kansas, where she learned more about color composition, form, texture, and other aspects of design. Her first job in the industry was at Char’s Flowers in Topeka, where she made bows for holiday flowers. She also worked as a designer for Stanley Flowers, and worked to inspire other florists through her how-to articles and videos with Florists’ Review Magazine. Throughout her decades of work in the industry, she has made it a point to learn every aspect of the work possible, including design, wholesale, and marketing, and she draws on those years of experience in her new role as the owner of a retail shop.

McNorton does not shy away from taking risks and trying new things, though as a new business, each idea is an experiment with an unknown outcome. Last year she began offering opportunities for customers to get hands-on with workshops, which have been a big hit. While in-person classes are currently on hold due to the Covid-19 crisis and stay at home order, McNorton is keeping the learning going with kits and videos so that customers can learn new skills and make something beautiful while at home.

McNorton also plans to create a place outside of her shop for relaxation and outdoor classes, with a gazebo and a potting shed. Currently, those plans are on hold as the ongoing Covid-19 situation develops, but McNorton is determined to make it happen.

“I imagine this shop as a place where people can relax and spend some quiet time,” McNorton said.

Social media has been crucial in building a connection to the community and reaching new buyers. Many new customers say that they discovered the shop on Facebook or Instagram. During the current crisis, social media marketing is the number one way that a business such as Blooms on Boswell can stay in touch. McNorton counts herself lucky to have hired a social media and marketing director, Mikaela Gibbs, to oversee this very important aspect of modern business.

For McNorton, the best part of operating a flower shop is the opportunity to be there for people in both happy and sad times, and the stay-at-home order that has impacted so many people in our community is no exception.

“You don’t think that flowers are a necessity,” McNorton said, “but sometimes bringing a smile to someone’s face is the absolute best thing that you can do.”

Blooms on Boswell is offering a Friday bouquet special with delivery in Topeka for the foreseeable future. If you would like to brighten someone’s day, put in your order early. The bouquets are limited to 50, and they have been selling out.

McNorton is proud to work with Envista to make her dreams come true. She notes that Envista is more than a lender, they are also one of her biggest supporters. They believe in her business, and what she can bring to the community.

“My parents were members of a credit union growing up,” McNorton said, “and the service there has always seemed more personal. Working with Envista feels like a partnership. They want me to succeed, and they’re truly a pleasure to work with.”