The career path for Jill Hoffines-Erb has been pretty direct.
A high school job at a Mount Joy flower shop led to her study of floral design at Penn College, which led to her opening her own floral shop after graduation.
And today, the 37-year-old Mount Joy resident is on the cusp of fulfilling a dream for her business as she prepares to open a new home for Floral Designs of Mount Joy.
With more than 8,000 square feet of space, the building at 1599 W. Main St. will offer five times the space of her current facility in a converted convenience store 2.5 miles away at 102 E. Main St.
The new shop, which opens Nov. 1, will allow her to consolidate her flower storage in one place and give her 14 employees more room to work.
“It’s basically a goal and a dream I’ve had ever since I started,” Hoffines-Erb said. “I know it’s going to be my next 25 years, so I had to create something that’s logistically a lot better.”
But while the new headquarters is the capstone of a career as a florist that began when she was 16, getting there was not always easy.
After they bought the property, construction itself lasted two years, with Hoffines-Erb’s husband, Shawn, doing most of the work with his company, Erb Construction. They declined to estimate the project’s cost.
And while the new location offers a better showcase for her products, Hoffines-Erb says the business is not always as elegant as it seems.
“It’s not just playing with flowers all day. It’s a lot of demands. It’s a lot of stress. We’re trying to satisfy consumers. And it’s a piece of art, so everybody views it differently,” she said.
Why are you moving?
Really the bigger space is all, just for a better work environment, just logistics on our end. I could have stayed where I was at — I really liked being more in the center of Mount Joy — but just our logistics of daily work were not efficient.
For example, some of our Christmas merchandise might arrive in July, then we’d have to store it (offsite), bring it back to the shop. It’s a lot of double handling of product.
I would joke that it felt like I was part of a flower shop and part of a moving company, because I’m just moving product constantly.
Would you imagine ever expanding again, or adding another location?
I expect to be here. I want to be here for the next 25 years. I’d be content keeping it here. I don’t need to expand. I don’t need to have multiple locations.
I just want to keep operating a wonderful business that’s great with customer service, to not get too big that I can’t relate with my customers. That’s the joy of my job: helping my customers.
What are some things that are hard about being a florist?
There’s a little bit of the emotional roller coaster where you’re going from happy times to sad times.
I still remember the day that I met with a family that had lost their son in a tragic accident. I met with them to plan the funeral services. They walked out the door, and in comes my wedding appointment.
What are some of the latest trends with arrangements?
Something we like to do is include succulents or air plants, even with the fresh flowers, because then it’s kind of a little bit of a keepsake with it, which is so in style right now.
How did you get started with the business?
My parents were great supporters because of being in the agriculture industry. They’re farmers, so they’re self-employed and they understand what it takes. So I grew up with that hardworking background.
At the time, the flower shop I was working at wasn’t doing weddings and events, and as a 21-year-old, that was something I was interested in. They were doing more traditional work, more basic things and I wanted to expand out into a little more of the wedding work and even home decor, more artistic designs.
A lot of people say we kind of brought a city look to Lancaster County, not just the everyday basic flowers but more novelty things, like tropical items, using lots of orchids or proteas.
How did you get customers in the early days?
With growing up in the community, I really did have a good community following.
With the floral industry, I’m a strong believer that it’s word of mouth, it’s seeing our products. The more products we would get into people’s hands, the more the buzz continued to happen for us.
How have things changed from when you first started?
The customers are just so much more knowledgeable because of Pinterest and the internet in general.
Everybody says, “What did we do before Pinterest?” Well, we looked at magazines.
When I was first starting (in) the industry, brides would bring in magazines. Now everybody brings their Pinterest board on their iPad and shows me their inspirations from there.
Is that easier?
It makes it nice because you can clearly see their inspiration. It becomes challenging when it’s seasonal product and the whole look is developed around that seasonal product.
Where do you get your flowers?
All over the world, basically. Then we still do go back to the tradition of buying local. I have local growers that I do talk to on the phone, or they’ll bring the product in and I can hand-select them. That still happens.
What kind of flowers did you have at your own wedding?
Just the classic — all white. I’m very simplistic. I like that timeless look of all white.