According to the famed Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, "just living is not enough." Indeed, he said individuals require three more things to be truly happy and content — "sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
If anybody in the local community can attest to that aphorism, it's Cartersville native Michelle Baker. After all, she's been a staple of Bartow County's floral industry for more than 20 years.
"I started out as a delivery person way back in the day," she said. "And just moved my way up."
Alongside business partners Miranda Crowe and Michelle Givins, Baker opened her latest venture — Krazy Daisy Flowers & Gifts — at 31 Collins Drive in Cartersville in January.
Situated in a shopping center with businesses like Bodyplex Fitness and Southern Exposure Tanning as its neighbors, Baker said she didn't exactly expect the location to be heavy on foot traffic.
But as it turns out, there appears to be a lot more overlap with the salon and fitness crowd than assumed.
"This little area here is very, very busy," she said. "We didn't know that when we came here, which has been a good surprise ... we got a lot of people walking in from the tanning bed and the gym."
In the two decades-plus she's been in the floral arrangement trade, Baker said consumer tastes have shifted quite a bit. The more vibrant flora may have been all the rage a quarter century ago, but today "rustic" is in.
"Orchids and roses, back in the '90s, that was more popular," she said. "Now we're seeing more of the country feel has come around — we have seen cotton and more woodsy, wildflower looks come into the weddings."
Baker has observed other emerging trends as well. When it comes to funerals, plants and European garden baskets are becoming quite popular — "because people want to keep things," she theorizes — while grapevine wreaths are in high demand as a home furnishing.
As the name of the business suggests, however, the merchandise at Krazy Daisy Flowers & Gifts isn't limited to things with fronds, petals and bulbs.
"We have a lot of home decor, a lot of the farmhouse products," Baker said. "We do have a few jewelry pieces, it's more of the leather jewelry. We have just started carrying a new line, Creative Organics, which is [made by] a local artisan lady here in Cartersville who makes all her own bath and body works."
As a general trend, Baker said the "wildflower look" is a hot commodity. "They're into all the filler flower and more airy stuff, versus compact," she said.
Baker said orders for funerals just slightly outpaces their orders for weddings. There's also been a lot of demand recently for other events and occasions, such as open houses for businesses and retirement parties. Count Big Door Vineyards and Cartersville Medical Center among their local clients.
"We basically do everything now, from events to weddings to funerals to anything that anybody wants to come up with," Crowe said. "Like parties, anniversaries ... we already do that."
Many of their flowers, Baker said, have been on some fairly lengthy journeys — not just across state lines, but even a few transcontinental treks.
"We have multiple wholesalers that we order from," she said. "A lot of the flowers come from Ecuador, a lot of them come from California, some from Miami."
As for how long it takes to make an arrangement, Baker said it varies — "It can be 15 minutes, it can be an hour, it just depends."
It usually takes arrangement specialist Janice Keith, for example, between 30-45 minutes to do a casket spread. And those can often be quite elaborate — such as the $1,200 Indian spread they were once commissioned to create.
Then there's their "Precious Poodle" assortment — a mum and pompon arrangement shaped like an adorable little pooch.
"We had this one little older lady that we made this puppy dog arrangement for, because she [loves] Malteses," Baker said. "She wanted us to make one she could keep in her house, so it was artificial, and it just made her day."
While both Baker and Crowe said they'd love to expand operations in the future, right now they said there are no immediate plans to shake up their business strategy.
"We probably will need a bigger space at some point," Baker said. "But we haven't made a goal, like 'one day, we want to be over at such-and-such.'"
The job, like any other, can have its frustrating moments. It's particularly annoying, Baker said, when a customer requests a last-minute gift comprising various hard-to-find flora. But for the most part, Baker said it's a great gig that allows her to shine as a people person.
"My favorite thing, I guess, would just be making people smile and giving them, even on their hardest days, some comfort to them," she said. "I guess it's just been getting to know people, because I like to talk and I like to see people out and they recognize me, and myself, I recognize them ... it's getting on a first name basis with customers and stuff like that."
The Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the business Thursday, Sept. 13, at 11:30 a.m.
"We're offering 10 percent off all gift and home items that day only," Baker said.
More information on Krazy Daisy Flower & Gifts is online at www.krazydaisyflowersandgifts.com.