Nelly Steeves is the owner of a small flower shop in Hawaii’s Pearl City neighborhood, where she makes fresh, fragrant offerings from dried plants, seeds and herbs that are sold for about $2 a pound.
Her specialty is selling flowers with a scent that can range from sweet to rancid, a trend that’s helped drive her business.
“You know, the people who grew up here, they used to say, ‘Nelly’s Flowers sells flowers that smell like rotting meat,’ ” said Steevers, a 41-year-old white-haired woman who’s been selling her flower shop for four years.
“And that’s just not the case anymore.
People are realizing that you don’t have to go to the grocery store to get a good smell.
It’s in your hands.”
Steeves and her business partner, Nelly Kao, are two of a handful of small, boutique flower shops that have become the backbone of Hawaii’s growing flower industry.
They’re helping to support a growing number of small businesses in the state, many of which are growing from the ground up.
In the past few years, the Hawaii Retail and Wholesale Flower Association (HRWFFA), which represents the flower industry, has counted more than 600 flower shops.
Steevers is one of the flower shops on the list.
Last year, she said she was inundated with inquiries about the new offerings she was making, and she was surprised to see how much people wanted to know more about them.
“I started out with just a couple of plants that I was really passionate about,” she said.
“Now I have about 20 flowers that I sell every day.
And I’ve also started selling the scent.”
Stieves and Kao have been selling the flowers in flower pots since 2014.
They’ve had customers from all over the world, and some have even come to Hawaii for their first time.
“There’s a lot of people that come here for the flowers and for the smell,” Steeges said.
“We’re not just going to be selling flowers, but we’re also going to grow these plants.
We’re going to give people a chance to experience what this is all about.
So it’s really a chance for people to experience the joy of growing this beautiful flower.”
The growth of Hawaii flower tourismStievers and Kanaan started selling flowers at the flower shop three years ago, and the company now has three flower shops and about 40 staff members.
The shops now offer a variety of flower types and flower shapes, and customers come from all walks of life.
Stieves said the shop is a great place to shop for the first time, because customers come in from all different walks of the life.
“If you’re from the Midwest, you might be here to see our flowers, or you might come here to learn about how to grow our flowers,” she explained.
“If you’ve never had a flower, you’ll probably be really curious about it.
And we have a very active customer base, so we have lots of customers.”
Stiems said that since the shops opened, she’s seen a dramatic increase in customers, even though the stores are only open seven days a week.
“I’ve gotten a lot more people, and it’s just gotten a little bit bigger and a little more diverse, so now we have an amazing selection of plants,” she added.
“It’s just really nice to see that so many people want to visit the shop.”
The flower shops are opening to the public, and Stieges said that’s one of their main motivations for doing so.
“We’re going into a new market that’s a bit more diverse.
There’s a new generation of people, so it’s a great opportunity to introduce them to our flower, and to introduce our customers to the products that we offer.”
Sties said the stores also offer tours and informational sessions.
For more information, visit hriwffa.org or email [email protected]