Sunday, May 09 2010
Many people would be thrilled just to get the chance to step inside the palatial Plaza Hotel in New York City's Midtown East neighborhood, at Fifth Avenue and Central Park, for a mere peek.
But few individuals get to participate hands-on in providing linens and specially designed floral arrangements for a large party in the famous ballroom of the French chateaulike luxury hotel, known for its exquisite decor, its elegance and its location.
Steve Biever, an Evansville award-winning florist, enjoyed such an experience this past January. He and his wife, Becky, own a floral and gift shop, It Can Be Arranged, at 4313 Morgan Ave.
A client in Evansville, familiar with Biever's quality of floral designs, hired him for the New York gala, given for several hundred guests.
Biever's loose and airy contemporary arrangements of white hydrangea, curly willows and leonitis roses, set in 31-inch-tall fluted vases on 25 tables, turned out to be more effective than Biever could have ever imagined.
"Waiters called home, and their wives came with cameras, taking pictures of my arrangements," he said.
Future brides, New York professionals in flower arranging and other people, smitten by Biever's work, swirled about him with inquiries.
Biever said he expects to get some clients from the experience, though that wasn't his intent for taking part.
"It's only been a short while. I expect some might call. I talked with three different brides-to-be," he said.
To ensure that he would have everything he needed at his fingertips in New York to produce the arrangements, Biever and his son, Dustin, brought all the supplies, including the fresh flowers, from Evansville.
When it comes to operating his business, Biever practices the same precision and goes about it with the same caring attitude.
"Our weddings for this year are pretty much booked out, except for a few dates that are still open," Biever said.
"We only do one wedding a week. We want to give full attention to the bride. It's her special day. The last thing a bride needs to know is we're doing two or three weddings on the same day and aren't giving her the total attention she deserves."
Biever, a floral designer for 25 years, most recently was employed at Snodgrass Floral Co. Inc., before he started his own business about three years ago. Having a shop of his own was a longtime dream, he said.
Biever decided to try it after he won an Indiana People's Choice First-Place Award in the Indianapolis Lawn and Patio Show three consecutive years — 2006, 2007 and 2008.
"I think there's a time for everything. What I learned, both good and bad, through other companies I worked for has all helped me," he said.
His shop is not a typical flower shop. It is also stocked with cheese balls, soups, gourmet baskets, a line of prom and cocktail purses, Tiffany vases, angel figurines and religious merchandise.
Biever and his family picked the Morgan Avenue location for its closeness to the Lloyd Expressway and other major roads for jump-starting the business' deliveries across Evansville and into Warrick County.
Getting the facility ready for opening was a combined effort by him and his family and friends, including Bible groups who helped with painting and other tasks.
Though best known for his cutting-edge designs, Biever offers both contemporary and traditional arrangements, made with live and artificial flowers.
He receives fresh floral shipments nearly every day from South America, Holland, California, Canada and other locations as well as tulips from Terre Haute, Ind.
"Tulips are the biggest thing there," he said. "They're of really nice quality."
Biever said his clientele base had been building over the past 25 years. "People who have liked my style have followed me all along, including some from day one."
But there is a constant need to grow the base, he said, and he manages that in a variety of ways, including giving free floral demonstrations to 4-H groups, garden clubs and other organizations.
"It's also a nice way to give back to the community," he said.
The free demonstrations don't bring new customers instantly. But over time he notices an increase from such events, he said.
Biever's dream today is that some day both of his sons, Nicholas, 30, and Dustin, 28, and wife can work full time in the business, if they would like to do that.
Biever was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Design in 1999.
"This is the cream of the crop. It's like receiving a doctoral degree in forestry," he said.