About me, the Coriander Girl

I grew up on a farm in a small town in Hastings County, Ontario. I call them my Anne of Green Gables years, angst ridden, cursing at the sky and longing for the day that I could pack up and head for the big city. Toronto was where my Dad lived and where my brother and I visited on weekends and stayed for long stretches in the summer. I wanted to be where the “action” was, but I had to spend endless hours walking through grassy meadows to fully develop my true romance with nature.

It was the best of both worlds.

 

Photo: Tyler Hogan

 

At 18, to the city I went, to study acting and pursue my career.

 

I made a pretty good go, booking the occasional beer commercial and other day player roles. I was really good as nurse #1. Despite these small successes I left auditions feeling unfulfilled. I was the girl trying to find the romance in the daily grind, even if it was telemarketing.

It was my time spent working for a small specialty gardener that I really started to feel the feelings, an entrepreneur was developing—or maybe she just needed awakening. I was falling in love with flowers from a gardener’s perspective. I discovered that it was while elbow deep in dirt I felt most like myself.

I began doing weddings for friends of the family, and the feedback was overwhelming. People would tell me they had never seen flowers like I was using, and the relaxed designs I created were different than the ball shaped bouquets people were used to seeing. I too noticed a gap in the market for the types of weedy gems I was drawn to. I had an epiphany, “one day I will open an unconventional flower shop.” I shared those thoughts with some friends of mine who were business owners—no coincidence that I surrounded myself with strong, entrepreneurial women.

Everyone shared the same sentiment: “why not now?” Well, that was it! I put it out there and within days a vacant shopfront appeared only a few doors down from my walk up. I shook my new landlord’s hand with a verbal agreement that I would make the rent on time. I ran home to the apartment I shared with my boyfriend, now husband, sat at my computer for three days, and wrote a plan.

I hopped in the car and drove to visit my Nana who championed every move I ever made and this was no exception. She loaned me $10,000. I met with my Dad, a seasoned general contractor. We shared dreams over coffee and in true “Coriander Dad” form he exclaimed, “when do we start?”

 

Photo: Coriander Girl

Photo: Coriander Girl

 

In September 2009, Coriander Girl was born.

 

My little shop was embraced in a way I could have never dreamed. The love and support has been astonishing. I remember 6 months in, Blog TO called us one of the best 10 flower shops in Toronto, I was so scared. Three shops later, the amalgamation of two, a studio, one beautiful farm and wedding venue, a growing family, a loving husband and father who keeps the float in my boat, it really has been a dream. We have taken huge risks, and suffered some losses but of all the iterations this wee business has experienced, this recent year has been one of the most satisfying. My team, my glorious Coriander crew continues to astound me with their talents and the shop remains my joy and the lifeblood of this entire beating heart. The people who have helped make this company succeed, you know who you are and how much love I have for you. Looking back, would I have jumped in with such blind faith knowing what I know now? You bet. The industry 8 years ago was a lot different than it is now. There was a name for people like me, people who lacked any formal training were called ‘Basement Bitty’s.’ I’m so glad I flew under the radar like a big ol’ bumble bee unaware of my lack in aerodynamics. I knew two things for certain, there was a niche and I loved playing with flowers.

 

Thank you for following our story.

Alison

 

Photo: Tyler Hogan

Photo: Tara McMullen