By MARINA WATERS
You’ve likely picked flowers from a hillside or flower garden before, but have you picked them from a vintage flower truck set up on the side of the street?
Charlotte’s Florals, the mobile flower shop that’s likely to be seen at farmers markets or downtown events anywhere between Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport, has been rolling up to customers since 2015. But for owner and operator Charlotte Julian, the flower truck business was a way to fulfill a childhood vision — and offer a little happiness to roadside flower lovers.
“I think from an early age I sort of had this entrepreneurial spirit,” Julian said. “I knew I wanted to have my own business of some sort. I knew I had a creative side. I just didn’t really know what that looked like. So when this opportunity came available, I kind of just hit the ground running.”
One of the first steps in creating Charlotte’s Florals was finding the perfect truck for the task; once Julian found her iconic, white, Ford van from the ‘60s to tote the array of flowers from town to town, she knew she was ready to catch the attention of bystanders.
“We really wanted to find a truck that would really catch the eye and I think we succeed in that,” she said. “We found a truck on Craigslist and went and got it in Ohio. We got it up and running and went from there.”
When Julian parks her white flower truck at an event, customers get the chance to create their own bouquets or simply choose a couple of flowers from the selection. A guest can choose as many or as few flowers as they wish or they can even allow Julian to put her creativity to work.
“I get a lot of guys who need my help and are buying a bouquet for someone,” Julian said. “I like to challenge myself too. If someone asks me, I try to make a different bouquet each time from the selection that we have. But a lot of the girls enjoy doing it themselves, which is really cool to see.”
Bouquets range anywhere from $10 to around $50, depending on the size of the bouquet and what kind of flowers are chosen. This way, guests can find freedom in their selection as well as how much they pay for their selected bouquet.
“I think people enjoy the freedom,” Julian said. “They don’t have to spend a certain amount. It’s not a locked-in price. The first thing I ask people is, ‘Okay, what’s your budget?’ and then we go from there. Anytime someone comes up to me, they’re not spending more than they want to.”
Before the flower truck owner came up with Charlotte’s Florals, Julian was searching for her own freedom that would bring her out from behind a receptionist’s desk and behind the wheel of her own business.
“I had a hard time finding my niche,” she said. “I went to college for two years, didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go in, so in the next phase, I was just a receptionist. I felt held back being behind a desk all day doing that. And so thankfully when this opportunity came about, we just went for it. I’m very blessed to be able to do it full time.”
But it’s not just about showing up at public events: Julian, who is often assisted by her husband, Andrew, said her favorite part of running Charlotte’s Florals are the weddings.
“That’s probably my favorite part,” Julian said. “We can bring the truck to an event or wedding and your guest can build bouquets as a party favor and the host can pick the type of flowers and the color scheme for the event.
“Then we also do build-your-own-bouquet with the bride and her bridesmaids. So we bring the flower truck to their venue either the evening before or the morning of the wedding and they get to build their own for the day. It’s really fun. It’s a special moment and for photos too.”
Whether she’s at a farmers market assisting in the creation of a summer bouquet or parked at a wedding venue assisting a group of bridesmaids in their flower selections, Julian plans to keep spreading the joy her flowers bring anywhere her vintage van will take her.
“I feel like the business itself brings a lot of joy to people’s lives and I love being able to see that firsthand,” Julian said. “So it would be kind of silly to stop spreading that joy. I’m very thankful for it — and I plan to do this as long as I can.”
For more information, email [email protected] or visit https://www.facebook.com/charlottesflorals/ or https://www.instagram.com/charlottesflorals/.