our story

I opened the doors to Angela’s Bella Flora, Inc. on August 11, 2000. It started when I had come home from my teaching job in the Twin Cities for Christmas break. I was so excited to make fresh flower arrangements for Mom and Dad’s house for the holidays. I called every florist in Duluth and Cloquet looking for blackberry privet. No one had any. Furthermore, no one knew what I was talking about. So, I changed my request to berries…of any kind. Pepperberry? No. Hypericum berry? No. Blueberry viburnum? Berries of any kind? No. So, this is how it all started. Someone needed to sell berries to all berry lovers in Duluth, MN. Thus began a whirlwind of business start-up activity…

My spring and summer went something like this:

Our Story

I went to a class taught by Dick Braun at the UMD Center for Economic Development: “How to Start a Business in Minnesota”. I started writing a business plan the minute I left the class. It only took about 270 hours. I would finish grading papers (I was a high school biology teacher during the day), and start in each night on my business plan.

I started collecting anything I could that would make sense for the flower shop…old chairs (at church garage sales in Minneapolis), shelves (closing GNC store in Calhoun Square), vases, urns and ball jars (Goodwill in Richfield). I started going to “flower school” by attending classes taught by world-renowned floral designer and teacher Ardith Beveridge. She is a treasure and is a friend to this day!

I drove from Minneapolis to Duluth and back about 50 times that summer. But to be fair, I was pretty much on fire for flowers. A very exciting time…

Family was a big part of opening this shop. Cousin Dave helped me create the Bella logos and magnets, Grandpa Ed bought the brown paper for the windows (he said we needed to create interest and “buzz”), Grandma Carmen helped with cleaning the radiators (the space used to be a print shop), brothers Mike and James installed the “fake” wood floor on a roasting hot day in August, Dad helped with incorporation, legal documents and general guidance, Mom helped create a budget plan for the year (hours of analysis and discussion – thank you mom!)…

Since the first day, I have been so very grateful for this “job”. I have employed more than 200 people over the years. What a great experience to learn about different work styles and personalities! Many of these employees have become dear friends. Today, our staff ranges from 9-15 people depending on the month. They inspire me daily!

Thanks to Duluth and the surrounding communities for helping this small business to succeed. Our clients have become an extended flower family and many have been with us since day one! If you want to learn more about Bella Flora, flowers, plants, the people here…just come on down and introduce yourself, sign up for a flower class, come to an event, or check us out on Facebook. We’d love to meet you and make you part of “our story”.