O’Grady designs himself successful

In 1980 when Blake O’Grady graduated from Thompson High School all he had in mind was to get the heck out of school and get started with his own life.

Both of his parents had worked, so his paternal grandmother who lived in East Lake influenced much of his life. He describes her as a true Southern lady –– hats, hose, white gloves, impeccable manners and a true Southern Baptist spirit. From what he told me, I believe the grandmother was a key person in his flair for design. O’Grady’s shop, Flowers by Blake, is beautiful –– so many lovely pieces. I’d really love to see him designing an arrangement –– you know, the artist at work.

He says there are flower “pokers” and floral designers.

After high school, Blake went to Bessemer Tech and to UAB. Then he began working at Importers Warehouse downtown. Later, he was urged to become state and nationally certified. This certification helped him to command a much higher salary over the unlicensed.

After seven years with Importers Warehouse, he worked at LaCole in West Birmingham for six years. The management end of the floral business became boring and more like a babysitting job and Blake itched to get back into design. After a two–year break in retail, he again went designer.

His current business is located on Highway 119 in Alabaster. He has a total of 25 years in design experience. His own personal favorite flowers are pink peonies. His favorite specialty is corporate events in which he is fully responsible for linens, place cards, china, chargers and flowers –– the whole shebang.

Last year he handled 38 weddings. As a member of St. Thomas Catholic Church (he didn’t convert until years after his grandmothers death) Blake really believes God will take care of everything and right all the wrongs. He has a wicked sense of humor as he says, “What goes around-comes around.”

If not in floral design, O’Grady would be in retail management somewhere since he is a people person and talks a lot.

Blake has tons of beautiful baskets, vases and specialty items. Next time you have a floral need –– give him a try.