Nashville florist donates profits to friends and family in Ukraine

As the bombs fall on Ukraine, a Nashville florist and event planner tries to make a difference – one bouquet at a time.

For Alina Kamilchu, 32, the horrors of war are personal. Kamilchu, founder and owner of a local event organization and flower business Petals & Fields, is of Ukrainian descent. His parents fled the country, then part of the Soviet Union, in 1989. They settled in Sacramento, California, where Kamilchu grew up but left behind many loved ones.

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Now those loved ones are in danger. A cousin fled to the mountains where she was hiding and a friend’s husband was killed while volunteering for the Ukrainian army.

“I feel helpless because I have friends and family in Ukraine, and I can’t be there,” Kamilchu said.

But doing nothing did not suit him. Passionate about social justice, she moonlights as a licensed private investigator and believes “we all have some responsibility in life”.

So she decided to help, and in mid-March her “Flowers for Ukraine” initiative was born.

The formula is simple: Kamilchu will donate 100% of proceeds from select bouquets directly to war-affected friends and family.

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The bouquets, which start at $65, pay homage to Ukraine in a subtle way. A typical spring mix might include star-shaped tweedia in periwinkle, butterfly ranunculus in cheerful yellow and Kamilchu’s personal favorite – Japanese sweet pea, a silky blush flower that becomes more fragrant as it grows. warms up.

Yellow and blue, the predominant shades in the arrangement, are the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Alina Kamilchu sets up a flower arrangement at the Kenect Community Fair in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday, March 24, 2022. Her family is still in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.  She will donate the proceeds from the flower arrangements to her friends and family in Ukraine.

But Kamilchu says customers can order any design with flowers of any color. As long as the customer requests that their payment go to Ukraine, they will accept it.

So far, Petals & Fields has sold around 35 bouquets for Ukraine.

“We’re trying to spread the word,” Kamilchu said. “I want to let people know so people can actually help.”

Customers can purchase the bouquets via Petals & Fields website.

Flowers in the family

Flowers and design have always been a family affair for Kamilchu.

As a child, she watched her mother give lessons and workshops on how to arrange and decorate with flowers. “I still contact her today and ask her, ‘Hey, what do you think of this design?’ And she will give me her opinion. The thing with the Russians and the Ukrainians, we are very direct.

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Then, when Kamilchu was 16, her parents bought a flower business where she regularly helped.

“I just learned what it means to serve people and bring beauty and life to any room,” she said. “Just being able to do this and serve was my passion.”

Alina Kamilchu sets up a flower arrangement at the Kenect Community Fair in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday, March 24, 2022. Her family is still in Kyiv and other parts of Ukrainian cities.  Its yellow and blue flower arrangements are for sale to donate to the Ukrainian people.

Kamilchu grew up with a strong appreciation for the life his parents gained when they fled the Soviet Union. To this day, she says, they marvel at the difference between Alina’s upbringing and the life they left behind – hours of queuing for food, washing eight’s clothes children by hand.

“It was a very hard and difficult life,” Kamilchu said. “And my parents knew they needed to leave in order to have freedom and live their lives to the fullest.”

Today, Kamilchu finds himself in a privileged position in relation to his family and friends in Ukraine. And she wants to pay it forward.

“I’m trying to create this bridge between Nashville and Ukraine,” she said. “That’s the point.”

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