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A creative space, with flowers

Christina Droumtsekas considers herself a Jill of all trades.

The graphic designer – who is also a photographer, painter and children’s clothing designer – can now add one more title to that list: florist.

In April Droumtsekas officially opened Pink Poppi in Conestogo, located at 1857 Sawmill Rd.

“I was working from home for the past 10 years, I freelanced, and I had my own company Pink Poppi designs,” she said while sitting on a white cushioned couch in her brightly-lit shop. “I was tired of working from home and I wanted a [place] where I could move my home studio into.”

ARTISTIC PURSUITS Graphic designer, photographer and artist Christina Droumtsekas wears many hats these days, and her latest endeavour – a flower shop in Conestogo called Pink Poppi – is simply another extension of her arts training, she says. She plans to focus her business on events such as weddings and parties.

Droumtsekas brainstormed with some friends of hers and came up with a unique variation of the florist shop – a do-it-yourself store where customers can come in, relax, browse through floral books and magazines and design their own personalized patterns and arrangements.

“People can walk into the cooler and pick their own flowers, I’ll have a price list on the wall or in each container, and they can do their own arrangements in a selection of vases at the back,” she said of the concept. “I’m here to help them if they want or they can put together their own.”

Originally from Waterloo, Droumtsekas attended the University of Waterloo and graduated with an honours degree in visual arts. From there she moved to Toronto for nine years before making her return to the Waterloo Region a year ago.

When she decided to become a florist she enrolled in the three-week Canadian institute of Floral Design in Toronto and has not looked back since.

“I don’t do your run-of-the-mill florist. I’m not like FTD. I’m more creative. The flowers have become like an extension for me, like a paintbrush,” she said. “It’s not a really hard thing to do, I find. Once you learn some techniques, and if you know colour, things tend to work out.”

The store is located at the old location of the mercantile shop, and Droumtsekas said that she still gets customers who come in and are disappointed that the store has changed hands, but she hopes that being in such a well-known location will eventually help boost her own business and spread the word about her flowers.

“People in this area have been really friendly and encouraging, so I’m happy to be here,” she said.

The atmosphere of the store is very relaxed, which was the goal all along. Droumtsekas believes that many florists have lost sight of their primary business – flowers – and become caught up in merchandising other items such as vases, cards and ribbons instead of focusing solely on the flowers.

Anyone who was familiar with the old layout of the mercantile shop will not recognize Pink Poppi. The dividing wall down the centre of the room has been removed to create a larger, more open space. The old hardwood floors were regretfully removed because they were in just too rough of shape, Droumtsekas said. A large desk made of reclaimed barn wood and sturdy shelves of the same material dominate the front entrance as well, which is well lit from the two large windows out front.

What’s more, unlike many shops you walk in to, everything you see is up for grabs. From the photography on the wall – taken by Droumtsekas herself – to the furniture and the shelves, it’s all for sale she said.

There is also the unmistakable addition of the nearly 100-square-foot refrigerator used for storing cut flowers near the front of the shop.

There are also stools on the way for sitting at the front – they’ve been delayed for months now – and there is also the option of espresso or water as well.

“I just want to make the place seem comfortable and inviting. I’ve had a couple people say, ‘wow it feels like a spa in here,’” laughed Droumtsekas.

She even rented out the adjoining room at the back of the building with the goal of one day providing a gallery space for artists and photographers from throughout the region to hang their work in a public forum. The shop is also dog-friendly and she encourages people walking by with their dogs to pop in and say hello.

The store is open 10-6 Wednesday to Friday, and 10-3 on Saturdays. She says the shop is normally only open Sunday to Tuesday by appointment, but that is just to give her time to make trips to her wholesalers and get fresh supplies of flowers for the week. No firm appointments are required on those days, simply call her number and if she is in the area she will gladly come to the shop and help you with whatever you need.

“I love flowers, they’re just beautiful and they’re an extension of me,” she said.

“I don’t design by flower, I design by colours, and I tend to think of things that most people wouldn’t think of. I always tell people ‘go into your garden’ because you’ll be surprised by what you find and what you can create with it.”

For more information visit her website, www.pinkpoppi.ca.

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