Inside a brick storefront on Taneytown’s Baltimore Street on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, Victoria Clausen arranges flowers at a workstation surrounded by shelves of pots and vases.
Displays hold potted plants, homemade soaps and watercolors by local artists. Nearby, Cassie Kwarta draws careful chalk letters onto a sign advertising a Christmas in July sale.
Whether you want a simple bundle of blooms or “drama all over,” Floral Fêtes is the place to go, Clausen, who is the owner and floral designer, says.
The shop also sells gifts, which Clausen says are well-priced and mostly made in the USA, and serves as a rotating mini gallery space.
“We want a high-end experience that’s approachable to the general public,” she said.
Janet Paulsen, general manager and project manager, calls the space “a Main Street, Taneytown community-focused small business that features creative works of local artists and offers festive flowers and timeless gifts for the home, heart and soul.
Paulsen will represent Floral Fêtes at this year’s Carroll Biz Challenge where they are one of five finalists that will compete in the Live Finale on Thursday, Aug. 9.
The annual Carroll Biz Challenge, sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, showcases Carroll entrepreneurs during a show similar to the TV show “Shark Tank” for local startups at the Carroll Arts Center. The winner will receive $5,000 plus additional prizes worth thousands more to apply to their business costs.
Clausen, the entrepreneur behind Victoria Clausen Floral Events, had been bringing her designs to events at the Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel in Taneytown for more than 15 years, and when she knew she wanted to open a storefront, she thought of Taneytown.
From there, things moved quickly, and from securing the property to their grand opening on June 14 of this year, it was less than 50 days, she said.
“That’s how we do things,” she said. “When we believe in something, we go full force.”
She considers herself an idea person. Paulsen brings years of event planning savvy.
They make it clear that the idea behind Floral Fêtes isn’t just a flower shop.
“It’s about this community — about Main Street — about a bigger picture,” Clausen said.
Their neighbors in Taneytown — from bakeries, breweries, pizza shops and pubs — are all partners in bringing guests to what they see as a growing community.
“One of the big things we’re very passionate about is small town USA. We love main streets,” Paulsen said. “And that’s what we’re here in Taneytown to try to do, the revitalization of the street by supporting each other.”
They are also working toward opening The Tannery Barn, which will be an event space just around the corner in historic downtown.
Inside Floral Fêtes, they will continue to host regular celebrations open to the public, such as the wine and cheese receptions for local artists works that rotate every six to eight weeks. The first works on display are from Westminster artist and author Carolyn Seabolt.
They also reach out to the community in other ways such as donating flowers left over from big events to nearby Carroll Vista or donating to the rebuilding of downtown Ellicott City following recent flooding.
The store’s grand opening was the first time they saw people come together at Floral Fêtes. Before the event, other local businesses volunteered to donate food and wine.
They weren’t sure whether guests would come out, but they did and the event went an hour past its scheduled end time.
Clausen said it was a great energy and a chance to meet many new neighbors.
“I just looked around and I’d say 90 percent of people I’d never met," she said.
If the business wins the Biz Challenge, the seed money will help them continue to pull out the stops for these events and get The Tannery Barn as it finds its legs.
“What we want to create here is a little experience people will love and support," Paulsen said.
“With the name Fêtes, it’s a celebration,” Clausen added. “We want to bring forth happiness.”