TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ELLE DARCY
A waitress and hospitality coordinator for Portland’s State Theatre, Shelley Stevens had a 15-year side hustle creating flower arrangements in her basement and shed for friends and events. She officially launched her floral business, Bloomers, after seeing the Paris streets fill with lily of the valley vendors during a 2018 May Day visit. “It was the most wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced and got me thinking, ʻOk, Shelley, what are you going to do when you grow up?’” Then the coronavirus struck, taking her service jobs with it, and “I was like, people are going to need more flowers because this is terrible.”
Last spring, Stevens turned the shed at the end of her driveway on a quiet Libbytown street into a proper floral-arranging studio and the enclosed front porch on her 1909 navy-and-white home into a “farm stand” for her #frontporchflorals project: On weekdays, she sets out bouquets in a couple sizes and alerts her social media followers, who can swing by for contact-free pick ups and pay via the honor system. “I’ve sold out every week,” she says.
ABOVE Shelley Stevens’s shed studio is chockablock with local blooms, vintage furniture, and colorful art, including a Frida Kahlo portrait and vases by Portland’s Laceypots. On her front porch, finished bouquets are ready for pick up.
Buckets of farmer’s market flowers, twigs, dried pods, and even carnations — “there are so many cool varieties and colors,” Stevens insists — which she arranges at an early-20th-century steel-topped factory bench in the shed. On the porch, an antique school bench and shiny red locker cabinet display finished bouquets in donated and thrift-store vessels. “I do not want to buy cases of crap from China,” she says.
The budget-friendly, no-two-are-alike porch arrangements: $15 “Sweet Ritas” (named after Stevens’s mom) and $25 “Ninas” (named after another heroine, Nina Simone) in vases and $25 paper-wrapped “Grab-and-Gos”; custom and specialty holiday bouquets are also available. “People are coming here every week to pick up flowers, which I feel is something we need to do to bring a bit of joy into our crazy world,” Stevens says. “Especially right now.”