Today’s FACE of Birmingham is the lovely Dorothy McDaniel, owner of Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market. Dorothy has been a vital force in Birmingham and beyond for over thirty years, creating fabulous fresh floral arrangements for every occasion from weddings and special events, both large and small, to distinctive everyday touches around the home.
Where did you grow up and what brought you to Birmingham?
My maternal grandfather was from Sparta, Greece, and my maternal grandmother was from Leonidio, Greece. My father immigrated to the United States from Tsitalia, Greece, and met my mother once in the United States. I was born here in Birmingham at Carraway Hospital. I graduated from West End High School and lived a street below Arlington House. I spent many hours playing at Arlington House on the grounds and in the garden.
You have such a lovely shop. What makes it so unique?
We have two large coolers in our shop (one for customers to walk in and one for the design room), as well as a do-it yourself station. At our DIY station, customers can bring their own containers or purchase containers here, choose the freshest product available directly from our cooler, and make their own arrangements. We have supplies available for purchase here in the store, and also have designers available for questions and guidance should our customers need it. We offer a weekly special, which is sometimes flowers, containers or supplies, that is sent out via electronic newsletter.
Did you have a mentor early on in your career?
My mother was a consummate gardener and always had annual and perennial gardens. We also had tons of fruit trees growing up. Mother said I always arranged flowers for her from the garden. As a young married woman, Beth McReynolds (a partner of Lula Rose Blackwell) taught groups of us at home. We would meet at someone’s home, have a delicious lunch, have a flower arranging class, and work until carpool time. I will never forget Beth McReynolds suggesting that I place a blue bow and a few flowers on my mailbox for my son Peyton’s Christening Party–I had never seen, thought of or heard of this before. Peyton is now 39 years old and now mailbox bows are all the rage!
What trends are you seeing with regard to your business these days?
Constant changes in technology have led to an increase in our online business (our customers can order flowers directly from our website), as well as the need for social media such as Facebook, Pinterest, a blog, etc.
Who or what gives you inspiration?
I find inspiration in most anything–beautiful venues, gardens, seeing what other florists around the world are creating. I travel often and I always try to visit local florists to see what they’re doing differently. My own designers constantly come to me with amazing ideas. Being surrounded by such talent always gets my creative juices flowing.
What is the most common mistake people make when adding flowers or accessories to their home?
Typically, folks add too much greenery or have voids. Putting too much in the room can also cause problems. Flowers should serve as accents to your décor, not as a space filler.
What did your bedroom look like as a teenage girl?
My room was French Provençal. I had French doors that opened up to my mother’s garden, where I may or may not have escaped once or twice.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
From my father: A lot of people may do what you do well; the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is great customer service.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
I love to travel. My fiancé and I love to fly fish, as well as hunt upland birds. I absolutely adore Opera music and support Opera Birmingham in any way I can. I also enjoy reading and cooking.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Have a lovely dinner out with friends or family and enjoy good conversation and great wine. I also love to entertain at my home.
Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
I have at least 10–I’m a foodie!!! In no particular order: Highlands Bar & Grill, Café Dupont, Hot & Hot, DoDiYo’s, Chez Lu Lu, Chez Fon Fon, Bottega, The Fish Market, Gianmarcos, Ted’s … and on and on and on.
What are you listening to these days?
Opera, classical music, good country music.
What books are you currently reading?
I just finished Fallen Angel and Steve Job’s biography. I’m currently reading Killing Kennedy.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
I’m claustrophobic. I was the teenage chairman for the March of Dimes and visited every county in Alabama promoting the Salk (Polio) vaccine. I was a freshman in college and was in Michigan with Dr. Salk when he announced the vaccine. I saw so many young people in iron lungs, I had nightmares for years.
If your house was on fire, what’s the one non-living thing you would grab?
The gold necklace my sister left me when she died. The second thing I would grab would be family photos.
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding family, friends, and God)…
Good food and wine, good music and good reading material!
Thanks for sharing, Dorothy! To learn more about Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market, visit their website at www.dorothymcdaniel.com or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dorothymcdanielsflowers, and their blog www.dorothymcdaniel.wordpress.com.
And a big thank you to Beth Hontzas for today’s amazing photos. To see more of Beth’s work and follow her blog, check out her website at www.bethhontzas.com!