Many local businesses provide needed and wanted services to their community. To the residents of Hamlin, Paula’s Bloom Room is one such business, especially to those that have lost loved ones and rely on them for the flower arrangements to commemorate them.
But, there is often even more to the story than just the services that a business provides, a story that speaks to the bonds in small town that support and encourage businesses like Paula’s Bloom Room to exist.
When I spoke to Paula Adkins recently, the joy that she gets from her work was the first thing to come though. How she loves what she does, and helping to comfort people when needed, how she can lose track of the days being at her business.
Paula’s Bloom Room open in October of 2016, now being about two years old. Paula had just moved back to Hamlin shortly before this from Charleston, South Carolina. She had been through a tough divorce and wanted to return home to where she was from. It was tough, working three jobs to make ends meet, with no car and little money.
Paula had much experience working as a florist, having done so in South Carolina, and Hamlin had no flower shop but an active funeral home in need of this work. But, still, Paula had little budget to think of starting a small business. Instead, it took the support of another business owner to help push Paula in this direction with some support and assistance. The owner of Hager Supply in Hamlin, who also owned the Paula’s Bloom Room building, approached her and encouraged her to make this shop a reality. “This town needs you,” she was told. And even though she had little money, the building owners worked with her for the first year, until she could get established and off the ground.
This type of business to business support and mentorship is often crucial in small towns, and it was crucial for Paula. She now has four employees, including the support of her family. The shop also delivers in a 35 mile radius, and often works with the local school system.
The business relationship between her and the funeral home is also of much importance. She acts as their on call supplier for arrangements, even having a couch and seating area to talk with grieving families, who she says are often making hard decision about these arrangement while going through the toughest experience of their life. Helping people in morning seems a passion for Paula, getting to know them and their families and how the arrangements can really reflect the person who was lost. She specializes in personalized casket sprays, one example being for a local farmer who passed away who sold fresh eggs. Her arrangement featured actual chicken feathers and chicken wire.
“The customers make this work fun,” Paula tells me. “Although the work sometimes feels like it is 24/7, the community has been wonderful and I depend on the community for support. Sometimes customers even bring me dinner when I have to work late!”
I asked Paula for her advice to others thinking of opening up a business in Lincoln County, and she told me, “Think outside the box, do what is best for your customers.”
“I never thought I’d make it this far, to start a successful business, their must be a real need, and you must give 110%. Be headstrong, you can’t make everyone happy but connect with your customers and work with them. Make your work a passion and not just a job.”