Our Crew

Deanna Balmer

Toronto Shop Manager & Wedding Coordinator

Ever since Deanna was a child she has been fascinated with nature and all its bounty. She learned much about plants while studying ecology in university, and then working as a gardener. It wasn’t until she began working at a garden centre that was also a flower shop that she found her calling to become a florist.

 

She has learned from international florists Studio Mondine and La Musa De Las Flores and continues to learn everyday by seeking out interesting varieties to work with. She also attributes much of her learning to the collaborative experiences with her peers. Now with nearly 4 years of floral design experience and a vast knowledge of outdoor and indoor house plants, she resides as the Manager & Wedding Coordinator at Coriander Girl. We feel so lucky to have this incredibly gifted woman lead our Toronto team.

 

Photo: Karyn Valino

 

 

Marilou Perron

Toronto Senior Designer

Marilou has always had a fascination with flowers and floral design, but it wasn't until she moved to Toronto a few years ago that she decided to take the plunge and leave her office job to work in this field.

 

A few years after graduating with a Fine Arts degree, she moved from Ottawa to Toronto with her husband. She was lucky enough to intern with a veteran local florist, which eventually led her to Coriander Girl. Marilou loves being able to use her artistic background and work in such a vibrant and supportive industry. She continues to develop her talent every day. We are so happy to have her on our team. Not only is she an amazing designer, but she has a warmth and calmness about her that is a delight to be around.

 

Photo: Karyn Valino

 

 

Coriander Dad

Superhero

You can’t have a conversation and bring up Coriander Dad without someone stopping you first to say just how much they love this man. He has a name—Paul Allan Westlake—but even he prefers Coriander Dad. I love him for so many reasons. The fact that he has become such a key role in the success of Coriander Girl—it blows my mind. His generosity is unmatched.

 

Photo: Coriander Girl

 

I was 3 when my parents divorced. My Mom and Stepdad moved my brother Josh and I to small town Ontario where we lived until we were ready to leave the nest. Every weekend, without fail, my Dad would pick us up and take us to Toronto. He did that for 15 years until I was old enough to get my licence and come visit him. In college I lived in Dad’s basement where we became even closer. He held me through bad breakups and unfruitful auditions.

After the basement years, I lived with a boyfriend or two. My acting career was ok—not dying but I didn’t land a series yet. When I turned 30 I was living in Parkdale with Tyler (now husband), in between jobs, and feeling a pull towards entrepreneurship. I decided to open Coriander Girl and met with my Dad to tell him my plan. He was always singing my praises to anyone who would listen. I’d be cringing—such kind unsuspecting listeners had no idea what they were in for when they stepped onto the elevator. Literally anyone who he thought might care, “this is my daughter, she’s an actress, she has three jobs actually…” He was always trying to connect me with someone who might be able to help get me my break.

When I told him about my plan to open a shop, I thought he'd be happy for me but I hadn’t imagined the immense wave of joy he felt. I asked him for his contracting expertise. The shop I rented was teenie tiny and before me I guess it was being lived in—not well kept. I had some minor renovations that I thought it needed, requirements for a flower shop.

Dad looked at me with tears in his eyes, “when do we start?” and eight years later he hasn’t stopped! I didn’t realize I pressed the go button and that meant ALL IN. Three shop renos later, one studio, top to toe gut jobs, building walk-in coolers, deliveries, and then graduating to wedding set-ups and floral arch construction. That doesn’t even begin to include the work he does for us personally.

What started as a coffee visit every morning after I opened, quickly became carrying my 80 pound sandwich board outside for me each day, and then turned into eight years of unwavering dependability.

He’s one in a million.

 

Photo: Coriander Girl

 

 

Alexis Bouma

PEC Senior Designer

Growing up on a farm in beautiful Prince Edward County, Alexis’ love for nature and all of its beauty began from a very young age. Her interest in floral design was first sparked when she worked at the Claremont and was asked to create centrepieces for the restaurant from their English garden.

 

This experience ultimately led Alexis down the path of floristry. She worked for several seasons in a greenhouse, and this led her to seek further development and training. Alexis has over 9 years of experience in wedding and every day floristry. Before joining the Coriander girl team, she worked in flower shops in the Kingston and the Quinte region, as well as internationally on the East and West Coast of Australia. After many adventures in Europe and around the globe, Alexis returned home to PEC. We are so lucky she did! Here’s to many more flower and County adventures to come!

 

Photo: Coriander Girl