How a new Ohio flower shop was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new local business born out of the COVID-19 pandemic is growing in Columbus.

Alexandria Ottney, founder of Sweet Blossom Floral (Photo courtesy Alexandria Ottney).

Sweet Blossom Floral is a downtown florist located at 14 N. High St., and owner Alexandria Ottney is gearing up to welcome guests next year.

The idea for Sweet Blossom came to Ottney and her boyfriend in the midst of their pandemic blues. Ottney recalls the uncomfortable feelings of the early days of the pandemic and the sad reality of having to miss graduations, birthdays and other family celebrations.

“Growing up, celebrating was something we’ve always done,” Ottney said. “That’s how I was raised, to celebrate life, to celebrate all the blessings you have no matter what – I felt like our celebrations were taken away from us.”

Ottney’s boyfriend, also named Alex, encouraged her to take up a new hobby to cheer her up. He suggested a flower fundraiser, where Ottney could arrange bouquets of flowers, then sell them and donate the proceeds.

The idea intrigues Ottney, who grew up in a family of artists and was encouraged to pursue different forms of creativity. Even before the pandemic, arranging fresh flowers for her home had been an extension of her self-expression and a safe space for Ottney to relax and let go.

Yet she was hesitant to sell her designs and wondered why anyone would buy flowers from her since she was not a professional. After initial hesitation, she gave in, picked up some materials, and started designing. She posted the arrangements on social media and the result shocked her – Ottney had received up to 80 requests.

Ottney got to work and donated the proceeds to a pandemic relief fund. From there, Sweet Blossom grew steadily. Over the past two years, Ottney has hosted many events including weddings, birthdays, graduations and daily celebrations.

Although the pressure to produce beautiful arrangements can be daunting, Ottney said she tries to have fun with it and trust the process.

“It was definitely trial and error,” she said. “I love it, I have such a passion for it. So I think that really guided me and helped me develop a natural talent for it.

Alexandria Ottney, founder of Sweet Blossom Floral (Photo courtesy Alexandria Ottney).

Now Ottney is gearing up to take her business to the next level and open a storefront.

Until then, Ottney had brought Sweet Blossom out of her home, arranging flowers in her basement and dining room. Eventually, the spaces became too cramped and she had to expand.

Ottney found Sweet Blossom’s home on North High Street, adjacent to the Ohio Statehouse and nearby spots like Alley Burger, Tiger + Lily and Veritas. She is already in space, tidying up in the back-workshop. Next, Ottney will work with a designer to create a warm and welcoming storefront for customers to explore.

Sweet Blossom aims to open its storefront to customers by the new year.

“Every stem has an intention behind it, and I try to live my life that way,” Ottney said. “When it comes to my designs and my business, it’s my heart – you see my heart represented in a flower arrangement.”

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