Coffee and Carnations: The story of Casa De Flora in Bloomfield, NJ
We’ve seen the innovation of so many industries over the last two decades. Uber is the evolution of taxis. Airbnb is the idea of hotels reimagined. Amazon is the biggest mall in the world! Being an entrepreneur isn’t always about delivering a new product to the market. Presenting a unique experience can be equally profitable and exciting. Brooklyn born business owner Maritza Walton not only celebrates her 50th birthday this year, she’s celebrating the grand opening of Casa De Flora with her business partners Ashley Gillette and Gregor Martin . Ironically located in Bloomfield, New Jersey, Casa De Flora is the fusion of a flower shop and a cafe. The real Question is, how does a woman with 25 years of experience as a mortgage underwriter shift to a life of flowers.
Maritza Walton- "I’ve always had it in me to like, plan, host. (I’m a) artist at heart. So when I decided to do wedding florals, it came. It came natural, you know, but I didn't think it would turn into the business that it's turned into today. So it started out as like a hobby. And then something I just wanted to do for fun, because I really, truly love doing it."
A Google search lead to a seven week course at Borough of Manhattan Community College.
"I started class that following Monday, took the course it was a seven week course, finished the course. And then within the course, you know, they teach you how to start your business and everything like that. So I signed up, named my business, the Ritz Walton wedding collection, which is my name Ritz. That's what my grandfather called. And Walton, thanks to my husband, and wedding collection, so I had no idea what that name would do for me."
After Walton finished the wedding planner classes, she immediately invested in a booth at the Meadowlands Bridal Expo.
"So I invested signed up, got a booth. But that wasn't enough for me. I called the the people who was running the bridal show, and I said, Hey, I have a booth. But you know, I'm new in industry, and I need for people to know who I am. What is it that I have to do to be recognized there, not just a random booth. And so I offered my services of decorating their entrance to the expo."
The Aftermath was a giant arch of flowers branded with Maritza’s booth number. That bridal expo was the catalyst for the Ritz-Walton Wedding Collection to book their 1st clients and grow into a six figure business within two years. But before Casa De Flora was introduced to the world, the entrepreneur had to endure a fire, a pandemic and a hurricane.
"I think you know, we had a lot of tribulations that that that happened, you know, not just the fire, but then COVID. And then it came and wiped out everything that we had did as far as the construction. And then we had to start all over again."
I attended the grand opening of Casa De flora where I caught up with Ashley Gillette. She expressed how it feels to open up the flower bar after the long journey.
"You know we were knocked down last year. And then in 2019 my sister was knocked down in this very space by the fire. So just understanding that it, I guess it wasn’t time but now is the right time. So its a great feeling to see it come to fruition. And the out pour of love. Everyone coming out to show their support. Its just a wonderful feeling."
You can visit Casa De Flora Bar Luxury Cafe at 75 Washington Street in Bloomfield, New Jersey.