Aspinwall to get Fox and the Fleur custom florist on Brilliant Avenue
A new artisan floral business is coming to Brilliant Avenue in Aspinwall, thanks to a Fox Chapel woman with a passion for floral artistic expression.
Anne Dickson, 41, is the force behind Fox and the Flowera florist specializing in weddings, events and holiday decoration and more.
Dickson secured a three-year lease at 105 Brilliant Ave., with plans to open in late May.
The building once housed a men’s workwear business.
She said Aspinwall provides a central location to the Fox Chapel area; it’s convenient and close to her home, and many female entrepreneurs have businesses in the town. She chose her business name to honor the Fox Chapel region and France.
“Fox Chapel is where I live, and my mum is French, and I love France, so ‘flower’ is a nod to that. I also love the men’s and women’s game,” said Dickson.
Dickson, 41, said she was inspired growing up by the gardeners in her life, especially her mother Eileen Muse and her mother-in-law Mary Dickson, an award-winning horticulturist and floral designer.
“As a young child, I remember dreaming of having some sort of store,” Dickson said. “A place where I could be surrounded by beautiful things and share my love of art and design with people.”
She said her late father, David D’Appolonia, always encouraged her to start her own business.
“I think he’s with me. He would be over the moon,” Dickson said.
From fashion to flowers
Dickson graduated from Shadyside Academy in 1999 and earned a degree in communications from Denison University in Ohio in 2003.
She moved to New York after graduation and worked in the marketing departments of Tommy Hilfiger and Dolce & Gabanna. She married her high school sweetheart, Andrew Dickson, in 2006. The couple resided in New York.
She said she was offered a job at Gucci, but her father’s sudden death at 62 changed their plans.
“I felt an urgent need to be close to my mother in Pittsburgh,” said Dickson, who returned to Point Breeze in 2007.
The Dicksons moved to Fox Chapel the same year, with Anne leaving the fashion world for the stay-at-home mom scene.
At the time, she had two young boys – she now has three boys under the age of 10 – and Dickson said the beautiful perennial gardens in her new home inspired her part of Fox and the Fleur.
“I spent a lot of time in my garden during this time, peaceful and inspired by flowers and nature,” Dickson said. “I started pruning my garden and laying flower arrangements on the doorsteps of my family and friends, simply as a sign of kindness and love.”
A friend noticed Dickson’s floral flair and asked her to create floral pieces for a party.
“Someone at that dinner got my number and asked me to arrange flowers for their daughter’s bridal shower. One thing led to another and a business grew slowly and organically over time. said Dickson.
A humble beginning
She opened her business in 2016, initially working in her garage. Her first paid floral concert was a wedding at a private home.
Weddings account for nearly a third of her business, with the average wedding budget for flowers ranging between $5,000 and $20,000.
“Other events like bridal showers, rehearsal dinners and parties make up another third of my business and holiday decorating, cut flower orders and container gardening make up the rest,” Dickson said.
In 2021, Dickson set up pop-up flower displays herself in the Pittsburgh area as community giveaways to brighten people’s spirits during the pandemic and bring joy to strangers.
“They’re meant to bring people moments of unexpected joy through random acts of kindness and beauty — there’s so much power in that. We can all use a little kindness,” Dickson said.
Flower pop-ups have sprouted at the Children’s Institute, the Tree of Life Synagogue, Lawrenceville, the Strip District, Aspinwall, the Carnegie Museum, and even in trash cans in Oakland and Sewickley.
Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum, Dickson decorated his statues on Forbes Avenue for charity.
“We are honored that she chose our space to bring such joy to Forbes Avenue,” said Betsy Momich, director of communications for Carnegie Museums. “It was a nice contribution to our stately but beautiful building. We were so impressed. She brought so much joy.
Dickson said she plans more pop-up installations in the future.
Dickson and her floral team and volunteers often collect flowers after a large wedding or receptions and donate them to Hillman Cancer Center, local hospitals or give them to family and friends.
“We hate to see all these beautiful flowers sitting in an empty ballroom after an event,” Dickson said.
Dickson said plans include creating a more organized system for reallocating flowers to people or communities who could use a “pick-up”.
Fox and the Fleur temporarily operates out of a corporate cafeteria space at RIDC Park in O’Hara.
“We look forward to having a space where people can stop and enjoy the beauty of flowers,” Dickson said.
Fox and the Fleur will offer flower pickups at the Brilliant Avenue store and delivery in the Pittsburgh area, but will not provide nationwide deliveries.
“It will be a bit of a one-stop shop, and I envision a Parisian, sophisticated vibe,” Dickson said.
A team of five floral designers will create arrangements at the back of the 1,200 square foot space. Customers will be able to see them working through a large window. A large cooler will keep the flowers cool.
“People can actually see us arranging flower arrangements and seeing conceptions happen. People are always curious about what it takes to make flowers for a wedding,” Dickson said.
The front section of the store will feature a huge flower-covered table where customers can create a custom, stem-picked arrangement.
Fox and the Fleur will open in May offering studio/workspace with limited hours, with plans to open in the fall with a regular schedule.
Jessica Rehling Vukmir, owner of New PGH and Dovecote, owns two businesses on Brilliant Avenue.
Vukmir said most of the businesses along Brilliant are owned and operated by women, and she welcomes the news of a flower shop opening in Aspinwall.
“There’s definitely a lot of female power in the wall (Aspinwall), and we’re thrilled to welcome another brilliant entrepreneur,” Vukmir said.
Fox Chapel’s Dana Hanna has collaborated with Dickson on several major charity events.
“We wanted the flowers to embody the light, energy, power and beauty behind our mission,” Hanna said.
Hanna described Dickson’s floral designs as “stunning”.
Dickson said working in the floral business is hard work.
“I think my time in New York and in the fashion industry trained me well as an entrepreneur, to stay calm under pressure,” Dickson said.
Dickson said she had no formal training in floral design, but designed from the heart.
“Arranging flowers is a meditation for me. I’m just in the moment and the rest of the world is falling apart,” Dickson said. “Creating something beautiful and being able to share it with people is an absolute joy.”