Whitely operated first florist shop as home-based business

By Greg Miller

Geraldine Whitely, owner of Joyful Creations, operated her first florist shop as a home-based business.
   Whitely owned a floral shop and bakery in her Joppa, Md., home for 28 years. "The shop actually started with one of my best friends who did wedding cakes. The family asked her if she did flowers, and she said she didn't but her best friend did," Whitely said.
   Whitely began her in-home business with no formal training. "I just tried, and tried and tried again until I got it right," she remarked. "I've loved it, and it was always a dream of mine to have a retail shop. The Lord allowed me to realize that on Nov. 25, 2000. It doesn't seem like it's been that long. It just seems like yesterday.
   "It's a lot of hard work, but it's a lot of fun. It's so rewarding when you see people's faces, they're happy with what you've done, and you've done what they probably didn't really think you could do. It's a pleasure.
   "I love people, and I love happy people, so, therefore, we work hard. We're happy in the shop, we want to keep people happy, and we work hard to do that."
   The biggest difference between a home shop and retail shop, Whitely said, is that "you're constantly getting orders in a retail shop. In a home shop, you take the orders that you want to take and if you feel you want to be off for a couple of weeks, you just don't take any orders. You can't do that in a retail shop."
   The biggest similarity in a home shop and retail shop is in the purchasing of supplies.
   Whitely, whose future goal is to open another shop, says her biggest current goal "is to make people happy, to be a compassionate loving florist, and especially at a time of grief to be a comfort to families."
   Funerals comprise the largest percentage of business at Joyful Creations. Get well wishes and weddings also provide many orders.
   "We try to do unique and unusual things," Whitely said. "We've done a stern, the wheel for a ship, when a ship's captain died. We've done tractors and various farm instruments when farmers have died. We've done violins and other musical instruments when musicians have died. We love these challenges."
   Whitely's father, the Rev. Gwynn Blackburn, formerly pastored Little Doe Baptist Church in Doe Valley and Hunter Memorial Baptist Church on Stoney Creek.
   Whitely credits God with the success of Joyful Creations. "God gave me this business," she said. "And He's blessed me so much with it. My manager, Darlene Smith, is wonderful. I've made a wonderful lasting friend."
   Smith, Whitely said, is a definite asset to the shop. "She's such a wonderful manager, such a wonderful designer. Sometimes, it seems scary; our minds almost run on the same track a lot of times. I love her and appreciate her so much. So many people know and love her."
   Smith is thankful that she has been able to help Whitely achieve her goal of owning a retail florist shop. "Geraldine is a great boss," Smith said. "She's easy to work for, and if that's her dream, I'm here to make it come true. That's what I'm here for."
   For Smith, the most rewarding aspect of managing a florist shop is "seeing people leave happy. If they are happy, you know they'll come back. If they leave unhappy, you probably won't get that customer back."
   Smith especially enjoys working on jobs related to funerals. "I like baskets and casket sprays," she said. "Weddings are fine to work with, but I'd rather work with funerals, because you can use your own imagination. You do what the customer wants, but with funerals you can have different designs, and that's what I like."
   Smith has more than 18 years of experience in the industry. She worked both as a driver and designer at the Bachelor Button. She would like to own a florist shop in the Hampton or Roan Mountain area.
   Joyful Creations, 510 Broad St., is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and other times by appointment.
   For more information, call 542-4234.