Lemon & Tulips was established in January 2017 by Alexzandria Regan as an opportunity to convert her hometowns previous flower shop into her own with fun twists. Her goal was to take the former traditional flower and gift shop and gradually erase the mainstream wire - out services and catalog buying to a more personalized and customized experience. Having the ability and introducing unique and funky arrangements has shaped Lemon & Tulips style to what is it today.
Transforming the shop into a tropical retro oasis with happy plants, loud colors and fun flowers, Alexzandria and her team 'the lemons' created a feel-good, fun and down to earth environment. They still hold strong to their number one shop rule, always play music – for you, the flowers and the plants!
Us Lemons adore arranging flowers, whether it is a sweet posy for a simple gesture, or a grand statement that screams, "I'm madly in love with you!". We know flowers are a language in itself, and are happy to create that connection when words just aren't necessary.
" creating a happy oasis and connection with others through the nostalgic world of floral design "
Alexzandria Regan was destined to be her own boss. When she was in middle school, her teacher asked her and her classmates to write about what they wanted to do later on in life. Ali drew a disco ball as a symbol of her intention to own a dance club. She didn’t let go of that idea through two years at University of Maine studying Business Management and finishing up at the University of Southern Maine pursuing a degree and concentration in Small Business and Entrepreneurship. She even did an internship at Port City Music Hall in Portland to learn the ins and outs of running a music venue. After college, she moved to Boston, but found she missed Portland and moved back to take a management position at the Spa at the Regency Hotel. Then, life threw her a curve ball. An accident landed her in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury that required surgery and a lot of post-operative rehabilitation. Going back to her managerial position
at the Regency was out of the question because it involved too many comprehensive tasks for her to handle at the time, so instead she took a job at Harmon’s & Barton’s flower shop in Portland. It was there that she made the decision to open her own flower shop. It turns out, it was a good choice because floral design stimulates creative thinking, and fragrance and color activate memory. Instead of lamenting what the accident cost her, Ali sees it as a catalyst for positive change in her life.
On the 19th of January, she closed on 523 Main Street in Fryeburg. It took her less than ten minutes to come up with the name Lemon & Tulips: Lemon is her nickname and tulips are her favorite flower. She still has the original draft of the logo, which communicates a love of Scandinavian folk art design that is evident throughout the shop. When asked “Why Fryeburg?” she is quick to sing the praises of the town where she spent a lot of her formative years. “Fryeburg is a gem of a town with it’s location, foot traffic and events. I feel like more people need to come here and revive it because it has so much potential for shops and small businesses. Already [Lemon & Tulips has] given people a sense of having something fun and different here in Fryeburg.” Farm-to-table, farmers’ markets and buy local are all movements that drew Ali back to Portland and that she’d like to see more of in Fryeburg, so when she set up shop she connected with others in the area who are similarly engaged. Instead of ordering solely from suppliers, she wanted to supplement with fresh-cut flowers from local people. Even locals who have an abundance of flowers in their backyard gardens have been known to pop in and ask if she’s interested in buying them. “It really builds the sense of community and supporting each other. I’m big on that because I don’t like the competition type thing. Everyone has their own style and aesthetic. Collaboration fosters creativity.” Don’t expect a Teleflora experience when you walk into Lemon & Tulips. Ali is convinced you lose a lot of creative freedom and personalization when merely copying something viewed on a website, so she’s doesn’t subscribe to floral wire services such as FTD and Teleflora. She also points out that they are expensive, which is why the new generation of floral designers, who are extremely well versed in using social media as a marketing tool, are opting out of wire services. She’s much more about having a conversation with customers and asking them questions that result in an original arrangement the recipient will feel had them in mind.
“I could probably make more money [with floral wire service], but I’d honestly rather make less money to create a unique design and more personalized between the client and the recipient.” Asked what’s behind her garden-inspired look, she points out that we each have our own, completely uninfluenced sense of style. “You can set a vase in front of everybody and give ‘em a bunch of flowers and everyone’s design is going to be completely different. The more you work with flowers, the more you start seeing what you like and what methods you like. In my mind, a gardenesque look just always happens—not so modern and compact but loose and airy,” says Ali.
She hit the ground running in January, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, and admits to her share of trial and error since then. Completely rebranding the store inside and out (it was formerly Papa’s Florals) was met with excitement by many new and existing customers, as well as the inevitable loss of a few Papa’s Florals customers. While she laments losing customers, she’s committed to her brand and excited by the increasingly positive response it is receiving. “I still have to hold true to my goals and what I really want my aesthetic to be. It’s heartbreaking when you lose people, but at the same time you welcome a lot of people who are truly supportive for the change. Change is good sometimes.”
She is already making plans for her second year, with the addition of classes, a recycle pop-up shop, and hopefully more time to develop Lemon & Tulip’s on-line marketing and sales presence. Thankfully, her family has been hugely involved in Lemon & Tulips. On a day when I had stopped in, her mother was busy washing windows and landscaping. Her folks will also help her paint the exterior of the building this fall. Ali sees this first year as time to create her brand and identify her customer base, all within the context of daily management.
“I’ve had my days where I’d just sit and cry,” she admits “running a small business can be exhausting” but she adds that those days push her to become a kind and supportive business owner. “I just want a feel-good atmosphere in here. I want to create this oasis that you come in, you smell floral, you’re happy, you feel at ease and I can work with you to make a customized piece.
- Lake Living Magazine fall 2017 cover issue by Laurie LaMountain