WHAT WE LOVE: A flower, plant and gift shop specializing in whimsical floral designs made with seasonal and locally grown flowers. Established in 2018, She Loves Me is a wonderland of botanically based goods for the home, body and well-lived life.
WHO: Former journalist turned shopkeeper, Holley Simmons.
WHERE: Washington D.C.
Why did you chose the name “She Loves Me”? I wanted something playful and optimistic that alluded to the fact that we sold flowers.
Who designed the shop? Myself! The space was formerly a beloved mom and pop shoe repair store that served the neighborhood for 51 years. I have some incredible before and after pics I can share.
What is She Loves Me best known for? Definitely our seasonal flowers. We have a bloom bar where people can shop by-the-stem, and our dried flower bar has been super popular as of late.
What are the “must have products” in your shop? No. 1 Cadence Candle Co. candles — they are made locally and it’s a Black-owned business. Every candle smells incredible and comes with a QR code that sends you to a playlist that’s meant to be listened to as you burn it. No. 2 Antonia Palermo earrings — these are show stoppers! The Colombia-based artist hand embroiders jewelry inspired by endangered species and they are so colorful and fanciful I couldn’t resist. No. 3 Surprise Orange — OMG these things are so fun and people can’t get enough. You unravel the orange and inside are 12 little toys, like temporary tattoos and bubbles. I’m pretty sure they’re made for children but obviously fun knows no age. A hit at dinner parties!
Where do you source She Love Me flowers? We work with a handful of local farms, all organic certified and women owned. Seasonality is VERY important to us. We want our arrangements to bring you back to a specific time and place, which is why you’ll never see us putting peonies in a centerpiece in the middle of winter — despite everyone loving them, ourselves included!
What makes She Loves Me so unique? We are a tiny space, but we manage to fit a TON in our 600 square feet. I’m a huge fan of travel (who isn’t …) so I wanted the space to feel like the type of place you stumble upon while visiting your favorite destination, the type of place you want to move into and call home. Additionally, She Loves Me makes it a point to support and highlight a number of social causes. Following the death of George Floyd, we offered free bouquets for Black People. Last year we sold over 400 dahlias with proceeds benefitting Ayuda, a local non-profit that provides free legal services to at-risk immigrants. And when COVID 19 hit in March, we launched a bouquet that benefitted We Are Family, an organization that provides companionship and meals to isolated seniors. It’s very important to me that we use our platform for good and lift others up.
Who are your customers? We get a lot of folks who live in the neighborhood, it’s great to see their families grow up and get to know them. We work with a number of wedding clients as well who hear about us through Instagram — (many times via Shopkeepers!)
How has the internet impacted your business? Following COVID 19, we had to get smart and pivot, like many other small businesses. We began increasing awareness of our delivery services, which have completely saved our shop. We tried virtual classes, but I think people prefer the tactile nature of flowers. We also shifted some of our most popular items online via an online store which was never part of my plan but became necessary to weather the economic climate and new shopping habits.
Have you adapted your business to the coronavirus pandemic? How? See above! Prior to COVID, we were doing maybe 2-3 deliveries a week. We didn’t have any system in place and oftentimes I would just ask random Uber drivers I came across if they could swing by that week and make some deliveries for us, lol. And at the height of the pandemic, we were doing 200 deliveries a week. It’s slowed down considerably but wow, that was some fast thinking and some really long days.
Holley Simmons, shopkeeper at She Loves Me.
Watch Holley share flower arranging secrets & Tips: Watch Here
Who inspires you? My grandma Rose for her general attitude and love of life. She’s my best friend. Also Lara Pia Baroncini, a fashion designer who’s confidence radiates off her Instagram page. Floral-wise, Sofia Basave of Casa Delerio in Mexico City. The woman has a razor’s precision with floral placement and color.
What inspires you? I know this is so cheesy, but genuine kindness. Seeing it, expressing it, spreading it. It’s why we have a policy at She Loves Me … if we can do it, we will. We receive a lot of challenging asks or things that we may not have time for, but I always do our best to fulfill people’s requests. Also traveling, again very obvious. But visiting other places, discovering new people, it always reminds me that there are 109080808 ways to live a life and yours is yours to decide.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was a journalist at The Washington Post! I covered the local food scene and even penned a couple of restaurant reviews. I started teaching terrarium classes on my dining room table after work and it just exploded and I was able to spin it into a career.
Why did you open She Loves Me? A friend had purchased the building and approached me with the idea. It was never in my plans to operate a retail store, but I decided to take the leap and try my hand.
Did you have prior retail experience? No, and it was very very difficult to jump in the way I did. I didn’t know what a POS system was or that payroll tax was a thing. A lot of people offered to help along the way but I’m so headstrong (read: stubborn) that I insisted on learning everything on my own, by trial and error (and error and error and …)
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? Being my own boss. The thought of having to ask someone’s permission or run an idea by someone else “in charge” is crippling. Also, that I can make my own schedule. I’ve always thought that having to ask off from work is inhumane. We are a very small team (just two of us) and there’s a very liberal vacation policy. Maybe too liberal — earlier this year I allowed Nicole to go abroad during Valentine’s Day and that one hurt a little, lol. But I will never say no to someone if they tell me they need some time off or time away.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? If you are doing someone a favor, find a way to kindly let them know. The first year I was bending over backwards for people — not following our policies, lowering our minimum for their event — and I would get so resentful when they weren’t drowning us with gratitude. But I realized there was no way for them to know if I didn’t tell them! Letting them in on the little “secret” or favor you’re pulling for them makes them feel special and puts you in a position to be better appreciated.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? I’d love to own a small B & B one day, somewhere abroad for sure.
What are your favorite local independent businesses? My background is in food journalism, so I’ll always be the biggest cheerleader for the DC restaurant scene.
What are your five favorite shops? Feng Sway in Brooklyn (fuuuuuck that place is magical), Paxton Gate in SF is a thing of magic. Quirk Gallery, the gift shop at the Quirk Hotel in Richmond is STUNNING. Good Wood in DC is out of this world. And I’ve never been there but Solabee Flowers in Portland is calling my name. And this is 6, but Atlantis Books in Santorini has a special place in my heart.
What are your favorite Instagram Accounts? Amy Nicole Floral – tons of amazing design tips and resources for florists of all levels; Tulipinadesign – just wow!; Flowerhouse Mexico – flowers + social justice = heaven for me!; Alex Elle – very encouraging words for all walks of life; We’re Not Really Strangers. And of course Shopkeepers and Flower Shopkeepers!
I wish I could… hug people.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“People will always crave human interaction, and in-person shopping and retail can never be replaced.”
808 Upshur St. NW, Washington DC