A blooming business

Desireé Shrestha tells stories of love and sympathy in floral designs

Story by Emily Bolden

Photographs by Dawn Harrison

For Desireé Shrestha, owner of Pelham Flowers by Desireé, being a florist isn’t just a job: it’s a calling.

Shrestha fell in love with floral design at age four, when she noticed the beauty of the plants – even the weeds – growing by the side of the road.

On her daily walks home from school, she gathered these blossoms together into impromptu bouquets for her mother.

As a teenager, Shrestha followed her love of plants to a job at a landscaping company.

She carried her childhood admiration of arrangements with her, taking inspiration from nature to create floral designs for the company’s clients.

Though her supervisor deemed the designs “exasperatingly uncalled for,” the clients praised her work, confirming to Shrestha that this was indeed her calling.

As an adult, Shrestha studied floral design at Auburn University.

She frequently visited Pelham Florist, a small shop in which she saw a great deal of potential. When she received an offer to purchase the shop in 2009, Shrestha leapt at the opportunity to make her dreams a reality – and to make her customer’s dreams a reality as well.

She rebranded the shop as full-service florist named Pelham Flowers by Desireé.

Since 2009, Pelham Flowers by Desireé has served customers in Shelby and Jefferson counties as an all-occasion florist, offering same-day delivery services in Hoover, Birmingham, Alabaster, Helena, Indian Springs and Riverchase.

Today, the shop offers an array of services, including customizable arrangements of flowers and plants celebrating life’s most joyous milestones, such as weddings, birthdays, baby showers, bar mitzvahs and graduations.

Her elegant arrangements and linen centerpieces grace the tables at corporate events and parties, and she offers services for a wide array of occasions, from Get Well and Thinking Of You bouquets to gift baskets for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Easter – even Christmas decorations.

The shop also provides funeral arrangements, wreaths and sympathy bouquets in Shelby County and the greater Birmingham area.

Shrestha notes that she and her staff understand the solemnity of these occasions; they offer consultations so that customers can create personalized arrangements and sprays that pay special tribute to a person’s life with individualized touches – the orange and blue colors of a mother’s favorite football team, for instance, or flowers arranged so as to create an image that represents a grandfather’s love of fishing – to comfort the grieving family.

From wedding bouquets and boutonnieres to lush floral centerpieces, Shrestha and her talented staff craft custom-built designs, combining the classical and contemporary to create unique floral arrangements.

The staff has expanded to a dedicated team of talented floral designers; this includes two apprentices, to whom Shrestha imparts her insights about the importance of engaging customers to create uniquely meaningful designs and the ways in which an entrepreneur can build a strong business upon a loyal base of customers.

More than anything, she hopes to pass on her love for the work, hoping that her apprentices “will one day carry on this vanishing art of floral design.”

Shrestha’s dedication to the art of floral design, her shop, and her customers has certainly paid off. Pelham Flowers by Desireé received WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards in 2011 and 2012; the shop’s designs also received recognition from the Alabama State Flower Design Workshop in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2013, Wedding Elite magazine recognized Pelham Flowers by Desireé as the best florist in Alabama. The shop received a commercial beautification award from the city of Pelham in 2010 and, in 2016, was recognized at the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s Salute to Small Business Luncheon with a nomination for the 2016 Small Business of the Year in the One to Five Employees Open One Year or More category.

Pelham Flowers by Desireé was listed in the top 20 of the Expertise Best Floral Designers in Birmingham in 2017, and in the Gardening Channel’s top five best local flower shops in the Birmingham area in 2012 and 2017.

This list of awards and accomplishments stands as a testament to Shrestha’s life-long love of floral design and to the hard work she’s put into the shop, which she describes as “a success story of will, determination, and the search and discovery of a life’s calling.”

This is a story that’s just beginning: Shrestha hopes to one day develop a franchise and open stores across Alabama, sewing new seeds for her business while maintaining the rich soil of quality, customer-centered work in which Pelham Flowers has blossomed into a beloved shop in Shelby County.

It’s clear that much of Shrestha’s success comes from her dedication to her customers.

Shrestha and her staff consider each client to be part of their “extended family;” she stresses the importance of “building relationships, not merely sales.”

Like any good family member, Shrestha listens carefully to the client, sympathizing and sharing “life’s happy moments through her flowers.”

Testimonials written by Shrestha’s clients show her attention to detail and a willingness to work with their financial needs.

As one reviewer writes, Shrestha “really did have great budget-minded ideas that kept my checkbook happy,” and created designs that were both beautiful and budget-friendly. The client even dried and framed the flowers from the bouquet, creating a lasting commemoration of their marriage ceremony.

Flowers, after all, are a way to celebrate and remember the most important people, relationships, and moments in our lives, and it is this that ultimately drives Shrestha’s business.

When asked what she loves most about her career, Shrestha answered that she loves “being able to bring a smile or comfort to people by conveying their message through flowers – and what better way to do so by having a job that you love and have never-ending passion for.”

More information about Pelham Flowers by Desireé can be found at Pelhamflowersbydesiree.com. The shop is located at 3105 Pelham Parkway in Pelham.