Black-Owned Florist Petals Ribbons & Beyond Blooms in Brookland
The Brookland neighborhood in the northeast has become an area of bustling commercial activity fueled by small business owners and Petals Ribbons & Beyond, a black-owned flower shop, has become one of its main outlets. retail.
Sara W. Lucas, 74, has owned and operated Petal Ribbons full-time since 2005, when she retired after decades of service in district government. Lucas began her journey as an entrepreneur in 1988 while working for the DC Superior Court as a Director of Child Care. She and a few partners started a flower shop. However, over time the partners left for various reasons, but she remained in the flower business.
“I love interacting with people and we provide great products for our customers,” Lucas said. “Meeting customer needs is our priority. I got text messages from people in the middle of the night for a flower arrangement that needed to be done. It’s difficult, but I can do it because we are customer-oriented.
Petals Ribbons offers products such as flowers, greeting cards and balloons to its customers. People can come and buy their products or have them delivered. Lucas said social media, the website and the internet have helped her grow her business, but traditional communication methods continue to work.
“There’s no such thing as word of mouth,” she said. “When someone hears about the quality of your products and the quality of service, it means a lot.”
Lucas said she has been surrounded by flowers since childhood. She remembers helping tend her grandmother’s rose bushes in South Carolina. Neighbors and friends would stop in her grandmother’s garden and cut whatever roses they wanted. Even after leaving South Carolina in 1966 to attend Spelman College in Atlanta and eventually moving to the district to work for local government in the early 1970s, she retained her interest in flowers.
Lucas’ love for the floral business was put to the test when the pandemic hit the city in March 2020.
“I remember when COVID came to DC and everything was scary,” Lucas said. “The city and the country were confined. My workers had to collect unemployment benefits and I wondered where I was going to find the money to start my business. Also, I had to find money to pay my landlord and my bills.
Lucas said he received financial assistance from the Bowser administration and $15,000 from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. She noted that in May 2020, her customers started coming back for Mother’s Day gifts. Lucas thanks her loyal customers for stepping up for her and the Brookland community for their continued interest in her business.
“When times were really tough during the pandemic, people who lived in Brookland would stop or call and ask if everything was okay,” Lucas said. “I really appreciate their loyalty.”
On May 10, the DC Chamber of Commerce honored Lucas as a “Businesswoman’s Champion” during its luncheon at the Small Business & Economic Development Summit. Lucas said receiving the award humbled her. When asked what she will be doing in five years, she mentions a second retirement.
“I hope to sell the business,” Lucas said. “I want to become a consultant and advise young people on how to open and operate their business.”