Ideas for Mom: Back to her roots

Julie Maxson, owner of Claremont Florist on Foothill Boulevard, lives by the words of pioneering Luther Burbank, attesting that flowers are “the medicine of the soul.” She finds working with blossoming buds and Mother Nature’s whims to be literally enlivening.

“Mother Nature is never the same, no 2 stems are alike,” she explained. “It’s always surprising you.”

Next weekend Ms. Maxson will get her fill of Mother Nature’s surprises as she turns hundreds of blossoms into blooming tributes for Mother’s Day. She estimates that around 150 assortments will be assembled at her store for the occasion.

Though it does mean more work and less play on a day meant for pampering from her husband and 3 kids, her original purpose for purchasing the business was with family in mind.

“I knew the holidays were hectic, but what eased my mind was that I’d be available for my children and be able to make my own hours,” Ms. Maxson explained.

While Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day often signify 24-hour shifts with barely enough time for a quick shower, it also means having the shop bustling with family members lending a helping hand in addition to taking part in family traditions, like her youngest child’s personal favorite.

“My 9-year-old enjoys coming in to visit because we are a big group that day…and because we order pizza,” Ms. Maxson shared.

The flower shop has provided some extra perks for the Maxson kids, like playtime with cousins and an occasional slice of pepperoni pizza. But it’s also figured heavily in other aspects of their daily life, from the routine chores about the shop to indulging themselves in the creativity of putting together a fancy bouquet for a teacher.

When looking for a job that allowed flexibility for child care, it wasn’t by happenstance that Ms. Maxson, an associate of Lewis Homes, fell upon entrepreneurial work through Claremont Florist. Though she purchased the business in 2001, Ms. Maxson was no novice to floral work. She got her start in floral art decades earlier through a class provided by Baldy View’s Regional Occupation Program (ROP), offering vocational training to students. The class was a lifelong career-starter for the young Ms. Maxson, though she didn’t know it at the time.

Struggling with her high school government class, a school counselor suggested signing up with ROP to meet graduation requirements. Ms. Maxson heeded the recommendation and signed up for a floral design course and accompanying internship at the Claremont Florists. She stayed on another 15 years following graduation.

While she helped with routine administrative items like answering phones, Ms. Maxson’s favorite assignment was putting together the shop’s spring assortments—piecing together carnations and asters and tulips, her favorite, into beautiful, lush displays. Creating spring arrangements remains her favorite task today.

Though Ms. Maxson eventually left the flower shop to pursue work in the corporate world, she kept in contact with her former boss. When she was told the business would be up for grabs, she took the opportunity to take her floral hobby full-time. More than a decade later, she still finds the same excitement in creating floral displays as she did during her first days of employment.

Every flower is handpicked with Ms. Maxson’s help from a market in the City of Industry and brought to her shop on a daily basis throughout the week. Assortments are then assembled on site with painstaking care by Ms. Maxson and her assistant Maggie Guananja. Ms. Maxson welcomes customers’ hands in creating bouquets, but relishes the opportunity to have the reigns let loose in order to add a little of her own flair.

“It’s not like a T-shirt you get off the internet,” Ms. Maxson said referring to her displays. “Everything is handmade.”

She suggests lilies and roses as hot items for Mother’s Day and would be amiss to not mention that spring is the perfect time to indulge in her beloved tulips. Though she hasn’t had enough time to plant a few of the spring buds in her own garden, Mother’s Day will find her surrounded by the flowers she fancies and the people she loves, family and customers alike.

“Maggie and I really enjoy getting to know our customers, those that come in and those I visit for deliveries,” she said, adding that even decades later surprising a customer with a handful of flowers never gets old. “I love to see their reactions.”

Claremont Florist is located at 226 W. Foothill Blvd. Check out floral displays or make custom orders by visiting the store or stopping by their website at Ms. Maxson can also be reached by calling 621-1879.

—Beth Hartnett


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