Jan Wilder Delivers Beauty and Quality to Upscale Weddings
By Peggi Ridgway
The small retail center in which FlowerFusion resides in Costa Mesa, California has evolved into a “wedding central” for area brides and wedding planners over the years. Its tenants include all the elements for the “perfect” wedding: bridal salon, entertainment and photography services, a tuxedo rental shop, a design shop for invitations, an Ayres Hotel and the largest bridal shop west of the Mississippi River. In the center of the center, however, the retail flower shop was the “best kept secret” in Orange County. That is, until Jan Wilder came along.
After working with the previous owner on large event projects in California, Florida, and Las Vegas, Jan Wilder bought the supplies and location from him in 2007 – and started the business over from scratch (“It was a total rebirth,” she says). Three months of remodeling later, she turned an antiquated shop into her new vision, “FlowerFusion”.
With no customer list, a brand new telephone number, and no name recognition, customers were not exactly standing in line to order their wedding corsages, bouquets and arrangements. FlowerFusion was a brand new business in a depressing economic climate… and it took a couple of years of dedicated work to become the florist of choice that it is today. Owner/designer Jan Wilder was starting over in other ways as well At a time traditionally thought of as near retirement age, she and husband Len left an active life in Dallas to relocate to Southern California. California was exciting and it enticed Jan with huge floral business potential.
The effervescent, always smiling, sophisticated Texan transitioned from a large, wedding-based floral design studio in Dallas to Orange County, to a small shop, and to a much smaller home. Beginning with good credentials as a Texas Master Florist, a National Garden Show Judge, and busy interior designer to celebrities like football great Roger Staubach (she knew the Dallas area market very well), now she was just getting a foothold, just beginning to build a FlowerFusion brand in California.
As background … the Wilders came to Orange County after their son Shane came to work in Orange County in real estate as a commercial broker and youngest daughter Dorea chose Chapman University in Orange to further her education.
For a couple years, Jan continued to design for parties and events in Texas. Traveling and working in two states, however, was going to wear everybody down, and the couple began to focus on the California business in earnest. Daughter Adena came up with the name “FlowerFusion,” while daughter Dorea designed the FlowerFusion logo. After they completed the remodeling and opened the doors for business, it was time to build visibility and business.
Throughout her years in the floral, event planning and interior design industries, training and education were always a priority for Jan. She holds a degree in interior design from Baylor University and studied floral design under J Schwanke, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, and Jim Johnson, AAF, AIFD, TMF. Jan and Len both went through the SMU Cox School of Small Business and Texas Master Florists business workshops. “Certification is very good for florists,” she says, adding “Every time you go (to a workshop), you learn. And you make good friends, connections.”
Jan attended symposiums conducted by the American Institute of Floral Designers and acquainted herself with the products of Mellano & Company, Mayesh Wholesale Florist and others. It wasn’t long until she was busy and involved, serving on Martha Stewart’s Bridal Advisory Board, the steering committee of Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) Orange County, and more.
A classy lady with a knack for promoting her business, Jan and FlowerFusion have had weddings and “Trend Tables” featured in Ceremony magazine for the past two years, won the Bride’s Choice Award from Wedding Wire for three years, showcased in Bride & Bloom Magazine, Absolute OC Magazine, and has received the Association of Bridal Consultant’s Trendsetter Award for Orange County.
Once established in California, the Original Los Angeles Flower Market became her “supplier of choice,” for its incredibly large selection of choices and quality of fresh flowers. “I always get fresh product, and it is always reliable at the LA Flower Market…. I am so visual, and I love the flower choices I see at the Market. It’s a joy for a designer to walk through those aisles. I have the opportunity to visualize. The quantity and quality and selection of suppliers and products – it is superb!” “I owe it to my bride and my client to use this excellent resource (the Original Los Angeles Flower Market) that is available to me – and I love it.”
Jan and Len are up bright and early and in the downtown Market by 5:10 a.m. on Wednesdays, in her visual element, finding the freshest, most stunning flowers for the upscale weddings on tap for the weekend. South Orange County’s “best kept secret” is no longer a secret. Jan Wilder is enjoying her wonderland of flowers along with the recognition that comes from transforming a secret into a well recognized resource for brides.