Growing up in Mexico, Edith Villavicencio, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, found joy and comfort among the abundance of beautiful flowers at her grandparents’ home, creating cherished memories she never forgot. The feeling of happiness stayed with her always, and when she left her career in labor unions to build something of her own, she knew working with fresh flowers was her true calling. Enter Garden of Edith, a South Orange-based all-occasion floral design studio and shop that carries the highest quality flowers from all over the world. Whether you need a simple bouquet, arrangement centerpiece, or her floral design services for a wedding or another special event, Edith has you covered. And, if you’re more of the do-it-yourself type, you can learn from Edith at one of her in-person or virtual workshops. We chatted with this Maplewood mama of Noami, 25, Daniel, 17, and Justin, 10, to talk about how she went from working with labor unions to business ownership, why an anemone is her favorite bloom, and her go-to bakery that reminds her of her flower shop.
Please share where your love of flowers and plants came from. I was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States when I was 12. My parents arrived in the US when I was 6, so I stayed with my grandparents in Mexico before moving here. When I made the move to the US, it was to a tiny, one-room apartment that I shared with my parents. It wasn’t in a great neighborhood, and we had a twin bed (my dad slept on the floor) and a shared bathroom–needless to say, it was a little scary. I’d think back to living in Mexico and remember the beautiful smells of lemon trees, roses, wet dirt, and how the air smelled like nature after rain. My grandparents always had beautiful plants and trees outdoors that my grandfather would nurture, and there was always an abundance of freshly cut flowers in the house. To this day, these childhood memories and the smell of fresh flowers bring me so much happiness.
Was owning your own business always the dream? I can’t say that I always dreamed of owning a flower shop, but when I decided to launch something of my own, I knew it would be a perfect fit. My longtime career was working for the labor unions. I believe in what they do, and I loved my work but also understood it was time to move on. I used to start the day at 9 AM and leave work at 2 AM or 3 AM, and it hit me that if I was putting in these long hours, I should be doing it to build something for myself and my family. My husband, who has always been my biggest supporter of following my dreams, told me he would do whatever he had to, even if it meant working two or three jobs himself so that I could open the flower shop. I know how lucky I am to have that kind of support behind me. Before I opened, I took business courses because I knew I needed to learn the basics of running my own business. I traveled to different countries to learn other techniques, different flowers, and the best vendors for these flowers and exposed myself to different business models. To this day, I’m constantly taking workshops on other design techniques to stay on top of the latest trends. After starting in a shared location in 2018, I opened my own brick-and-mortar in 2020 and couldn’t be happier.
What is your favorite thing to create? I love doing floral installations because it’s fun to think about the mechanics of it, as well as the flowers that will go together to make it work. I like to think of them as gardens and how the most beautiful gardens are a mix of flowers that are in and out, tall and short. Everything isn’t the same, and it’s these differences and the imperfect nature of this that elevates it.
You’re generous with your knowledge. Please touch upon why you decided to hold workshops and share how-to videos. Even though people call me the flower expert, I believe there’s always more to learn, so I continue to learn as much as possible about flowers. A lot of work goes into floral arrangements. I want people to be able to do it themselves or play around with existing bouquets and arrangements if that’s what they want to do. My workshops are intensive—you’ll pick up a lot of tips and information as you learn how to put flowers together, and you’ll also learn how to cut them properly and take care of them so that they last as long as possible. While working for the labor unions, I was leading workshops for 200 people, so it me lots of practice, and I envisioned that it would always be part of my business.
Do you have a favorite flower or plant? My logo is an anemone, a very beautiful flower, but also unique in that after it’s been cut, it still keeps growing. I like the idea of it going on no matter what–that idea speaks to me.
What’s next? I’m partnering with my husband, and we’re opening a taco shop, Jus’tacos, which will be right around the corner from my flower shop. The plan is for it to be open before the year’s end so that I can spend most of my time in my flower shop. My husband will handle the day-to-day operations of the taco shop while I handle the business-related tasks.
Tell us about some NJ businesses and spots you frequent and why they’re favorites. I’m a big fan of Three Daughters, a wonderful bakery in South Orange. When I walk into their bakery, this delicious smell just hits me and makes me feel so happy—I feel that it’s similar to what my customers get when they walk into my flower shop—it just smells so good. They put together recipes there (the same way I do with flowers), creating this wonderful scent that people absolutely love. As a family, we love exploring Maplewood and South Orange because the shops and restaurants are unique and special. We’re excited about the newly opened Osteria Del Corso, a fantastic Italian restaurant in South Orange with a beautiful ambiance and an indoor bocce ball court.
What’s your best practical advice for a mompreneur just starting? Have a vision, make a plan, and educate yourself as much as possible about what you’ll need to do for your business. And don’t be afraid of the competition—if you have a plan and define who your clientele is, they will find and stick with you, no matter who opens up next door. Also, always keep learning about the changing environment–workshops can help you. You need to be aware of the latest trends and what’s coming up next because if you don’t take the opportunity, someone else will.