Clarendon Hills flower shop keeps it fresh
Katie Moran (left) and Sadie Belman own and operate The English Garden Flower Shop in downtown Clarendon Hills. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:04AM
CLARENDON HILLS — Sadie Belman lifts a 30-pound box of gourds from her truck, part of the haul of flowers, vegetables and grasses she tucks into vases and other containers.
They will be part of Thanksgiving centerpieces at The English Garden Flower Shop.
Running the business in downtown Clarendon Hills isn’t as glamorous as the job she had for three years before opening the shop at 8 S. Prospect Ave. Belman was the designer of decorating and entertainment diva Martha Stewart’s collection. Belman designed arrangements, wreaths and gift baskets based on color palettes and price points developed by Martha Stewart and her staff.
“We worked a year to 18 months out to design the product because it took time to photograph everything to get it up on the Web site,” Belman said. “Sometimes, Martha would come by and see the presentations.”
About two years ago, Belman and her life and business partner, Katie Moran, moved to Westmont from the East Coast to be closer to Moran’s family in Hinsdale.
Though Belman and Moran looked in La Grange and Western Springs, the collection of cafes, stationary stores and ice cream parlors that make Clarendon Hills a destination caught their eyes.
“There was something very charming and quaint about Clarendon Hills,” Belman said. “It’s like an old-fashioned neighborhood.”
It’s Belman’s upbringing in Lincolnshire, England, where she started arranging flowers professionally at age 15 that inspired the name for the shop.
“There are several English Gardens shops, but I figure I own the name, if anyone does,” she quipped.
But don’t expect all the arrangements to be traditional.
“I’ve worked in NYC, so I can do very contemporary, very high style designs,” Belman said.
The customers to her shop in a 1920s brick building with sage green walls and tin ceiling have sophisticated tastes, Belman noted.
“They come in and want to see anything that’s different. That keeps us fresh,” she said. “They love it when we get unusual colored branches in like lichen-covered branches.”
Belman said encourages people to see, touch and smell the flowers by placing them throughout the shop rather than keeping them all in the cooler where they seem unapproachable. And she visits the farms in The Netherlands, South America and California, where many of the blooms originate.
Moran, who met Belman about 15 years ago in Philadelphia, doesn’t have a background in retail or floral arranging. But her business background in the transportation industry helps her run the business side of the shop, overseeing billing and payroll for the shop’s five other employees.
“I am something of a novice, but I seem to have found a bit of a niche here,” she said.