Not long after Carrie Kroening began her career as an event planner, she felt the pull of a beloved, previously held part-time job.
“I worked as a florist all through high school and college and found that I really missed it,” she said. “My passion for flowers and artistic gift for design was so strong that I decided to resume being a florist on the side. When I acquired enough clients to financially sustain me for a year, I resigned from my nine-to-five job — figuring I could always return to the corporate world if owning my own business didn’t work out for the long term.”
That was in 2000. Since then, Petals Floral Design has grown — moving from the confines of a room in Kroening’s home to a retail space in Milwaukee, and earlier this year to a studio on Pleasant Street in the Village of Brookfield.
With a primary focus on creating floral arrangements for weddings and parties, Petals Floral Design serves about 125 clients a year in southeastern Wisconsin, according to its owner.
“I mainly work with brides who have average-sized budgets, rather than high-end budgets, as I enjoy the challenge of designing within tight parameters,” said Kroening. She even declines to charge a rental fee for vases. “Every bride is different, so I don’t offer packages. Instead, I custom design for each girl. If one wants to combine three different flowers to make a unique bouquet or centerpiece, I can do that. I love hashing out arrangements that reflect their personality.”
Petals Floral Design also offers a la carte selections, including optional delivery, the opportunity to purchase flowers in bulk, and a tear-down service, in which, instead of being discarded after a ceremony, leftover flowers are donated to a local hospice.
Consultations are available at the studio by appointment only. Kroening recommends that prospective brides book meetings at least six months in advance of their weddings to allow for uncontrollable circumstances.
“Working with a fresh product is always a challenge and something you don’t have a lot of command over,” she said. “But, fortunately, I get my supply from a great wholesaler, so if there’s a drought in California and I can’t get hydrangeas, she’ll recommend another suitable flower to sub in for it. She also keeps me in the loop on floral-industry trends, like what new varieties of roses last the longest.”