New West florist doesn't shy away from taking chances - in flowers and in life

You’ll find kale and flowering artichokes in a Bloom Bloom Room bouquet, but don’t look for anything as run-of-the-mill as carnations or baby’s breath.

That’s because Sapperton florist Rani MacInnes seeks out the unconventional in her flowers – and her life.

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“Really, it’s about being saucy,” she says. “I am not a conventional, traditional person at all. I’m not a traditional florist. Most of the things I have will be very different. They will be wild, they will be things you find in nature, that kind of thing.”

The Bloom Bloom Room took root as a pop-up flower shop at Pop and Dot Studios in February, and shop owners Al and Sue Morphet soon asked her to move into their shop at 459 East Columbia St.

“They are vintage, and I think my flowers feel a bit vintage. The two go really well together,” MacInnes says. “Al and Sue are really unbelievable people. They have been so helpful, generous and kind. They have opened their doors and arms and hearts and have really helped me grow this business. Without them I couldn’t have done this.”

Since officially moving in on May 1, almost everything has been coming up roses for the Bloom Bloom Room, which features bouquets, flower arrangements, air-plant terrariums, succulents planted in upcycled containers and other décor items.

Diversity is nothing out of the ordinary for MacInnes, whose background includes graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in anthropology, archeology and museum studies, having a decade-long career as a project manager in the non-profit sector, teaching English in Japan, getting a master’s degree in publishing from Simon Fraser University, working in communications/marketing with big-names companies like Nike and Nintendo, and building web content for CBC’s Radio 3 youth website.

“Then Sept. 11 came; that was dreadful,” she recalls. “I realized I wasn’t a journalist.”

The broadcaster brought huge monitors into the studio. MacInnes was assigned the job of managing the coverage for 9-11.

“I had my team, around the clock, sit there and watch these people jumping out of buildings over and over again – and the planes going into the building,” says MacInnes, who was pregnant at the time, tragically miscarrying shortly after.

After moving back to Calgary with husband Ron, MacInnes became a certified dog trainer and started a dog-services company, got a certificate in floral design and “miracles abound” became pregnant with the couple’s second child – after being told the likelihood of conceiving was slim, and returned to the West Coast, settling in New West. MacInnes started doing some work in project management and marketing/communications, but she also reconnected to her creative side by doing felt crafts and making jewelry.

About a year ago, MacInnes, mom to eight-year-old Luka and 11-year-old Maxime, started doing some soul searching, asking herself what she really wanted to do with her life.

“Once we had the kids, it wasn’t about that anymore,” she says about high-paying jobs that were highly stressful and involved considerable travel. “It was about my kids. It was so hard to get them, to be able to have babies, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the heart for it anymore.”

The idea of a life in flowers began to grow, because it appealed to her creative side and would give her a chance to use her business savvy. 

“From a balance perspective, I am way happier than I have been in years,” she says. “I feel like I am where I am meant to be right now.”

Along with being creative, the Bloom Bloom Room gives MacInnes a chance to capitalize on her business and communications background. Friday Flowers (home delivery of floral arrangements on Fridays) and Wednesday Roses (two dozen roses at a decent price) help grow her clientele and revenues, where sticker shock can hit at the wholesaler.

“I’m doing better than break even, which is great, but I have to be careful what I buy,” MacInnes says. “One day they had ranunculus – I have a soft spot for ranunculus. I saw an orange bunch with 10 stems and a deep pink bunch with 10 stems. I grabbed one of each. I went and checked out – the ranunculus were $50 for 20 flowers at the wholesaler. I think the public does not realize how expensive flowers are.”

While she’s not bringing home the big bucks that she did while jetting across North America and working for big-name clients, MacInnes’s flower shop is getting noticed, recently taking the top spot as the favourite local florist or nursery in the 2015 We Heart Local Awards, a movement to support local growers, producers and the business community in British Columbia.

“I’m still learning. There’s so much to learn. It’s fascinating,” MacInnes says. “The business of running a flower shop is a very entrepreneurial thing.”

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