Monique Garcia, Owner of Mitten Floral, has lived in Wyoming since she was nine months old—and graduated from Wyoming Park High School. As a child, she loved stepping into the long-gone Brown-eyed Susan Floral shop on 36th Street to watch the florists turn a stem of this and a bloom of that into an artistically crafted bouquet or corsage. It was a love she never lost.
For 15 years, that love and a talent for floral design kept Garcia busy doing weddings for other florists in the area—up to 30 a weekend. However, on her daily commute, she passed a vacant business building at 3547 Burlingame Avenue SW. Once home to a successful carry-out pizza joint and a not-so-successful Puerto Rican restaurant, the building continued to sit empty, year after year. Though she didn’t have the means, she finally called the owner to pitch her dream of owning her own flower shop. As fate would have it, his name was Bud (last name, Nardin). Better yet, he decided to accommodate Garcia’s budget.
“It was out of my price range, but something told me to call. I had been looking downtown, praying and hoping something would happen,” Garcia says. “When I did the walk-through with the gentleman who owned the building, I found out he was the uncle of my best friend from high school. He was like, ‘What can you afford? I have a feeling you are going to do very well.’”
Mitten Floral was ready for business by Valentine’s day and will host its grand opening on March 28. While weddings continue to keep Garcia busy, she looks forward to expanding her reach into all occasions. A “Mom and Me” flower crown workshop will take place before Mother’s Day. She plans on hosting workshops regularly and makes a table, tools, and materials available so customers can create their own bouquets from cut flowers—which she tries to source locally.
“We have great growers here in West Michigan,” she says. “I try to source local whenever seasonably possible. If I’m not in the shop, I’m in the dahlia fields.” (In addition to her shop duties, she will host “Drinks and Dahlias” on that dahlia farm this summer.)
Garcia represents Wyoming’s growing Latinx population. As such, she looked to the suburb’s other successful, woman-owned Latinx businesses for inspiration, specifically Lindo Mexico Restaurante Mexicano and Connie’s Bridal.
“There are a lot of (Latinx) frontrunners here, and frontrunners for being a woman in business in general. Those women have inspired me, just seeing their hustle and knowing they are doing it,” Garcia says. “I live in this community. I just want it to be beautiful. I drove past this place every day. I want the community to be proud of it.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Mitten Floral