Florist business blossoms in Steveston

After selling Vancouver Canucks hockey jerseys and hoodies for close to a decade, Steveston’s Janiel McKay decided to surround herself with something a little more delicate.

And now, the owner who opened Pretty Things Florist and Designer Gifts — perched on the corner of Bayview Street and Third Avenue — just six months ago, is sharing that with a wider audience by taking part in a display event that uses florals for fashion.

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McKay, who worked as the Canucks’ retail director has her staff taking part in the Fleurs de Villes, which is billed as Canada’s premiere Floral Mannequin Series. Running until April 9 at Metropolis at Metrotown, the event has participating floral shops from across the Lower Mainland “dress” a mannequin in flowers.

“We participated last year when it was held at Oakridge mall and now we will be making a return with a creation that is inspired by the environment here in Steveston, with all the waterfront’s elements and the sea,” said McKay. “So, the mannequin we’re designing will be natural and organic.

“It will be a complete departure from the one we created last year which was a little more Oakridge-focused with a lot of golds and reds.”

A team of three florists was expected to take roughly 15 hours to cover their mannequin with an array of blooms.

“One thing you’ve got to know when you come up with a vision and a design for something like this, is it doesn’t always work out exactly as planned, because it’s a creative process,” McKay said. “And during that process, things can change.”

One of the biggest challenges is keeping the flowers fresh for the duration of the show.

“You choose long-lasting flowers. And for others, there’s water tubes you incorporate. Then you spritz it often.”

While there’s only bragging rights on the line at Fleurs de Villes, the event represents the opportunity for her new location to show what it can accomplish. Plus, it can put the business on the map for prospective customers since, Pretty Things only opened its doors in Steveston last fall.

McKay originally started her business a couple of years ago in Oakridge, but felt the business was not well-suited to the mall.

“I absolutely fell in love with the space here in Steveston,” said McKay, who has lived locally for the past four years. “I loved the natural light and high ceilings and fact there’s a bake shop and bridal store next door. Plus, I wanted to get out of the mall environment for a place that is more conducive for wedding consultations.

“Plus, I live about five minutes away from the store.”

Being a local helped McKay hone in on the vibe she wanted to create inside her shop. She also tapped into her vast experience in store development and design, something she provided for the likes of not only the Canucks, but Holt Renfrew, Helly Hansen and Peter Nygard, who heads up Canada’s largest fashion house.

“I’ve opened retail stores across North America and Europe. I love retail and creating that cool, shopping experience for the customer,” McKay said. “And hopefully I’ve accomplished it here.

“I came up with the look and feel for Pretty Things,” she added. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial side and thought it would be good to start something new myself.”

One of the unique touches McKay added was an in-store coffee bar so clients can casually sip a beverage while they peruse the shelves of gifts and wall of coolers storing a veritable kaleidoscope of fresh cut flowers.

“I thought, well what do you do while you’re in Steveston? Well, you grab a coffee and go for a walk.”

To compliment the flower store, McKay recently acquired an event décor rental company.

“So, not only is it flowers,” she said. “This will become a one-stop shop with all of your décor needs and flowers for that special occasion.”

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