In spring it’s light and airy. In winter, it’s a sparkly fairyland draped with berries and wreaths. Always, colorful aromas draw casual shoppers in, making them linger. Nestled in Martin City, at 511 E. 135th Street, nearly hidden by its steakhouse neighbor, is the shop Karyn Brooke is proud to call her own because, as she says, “it’s not the typical flower shop.” Sidelines Custom Floral Designs overflows with wildly imaginative flower arrangements and gifts that are in a class of their own.
Sidelines just celebrated 25 successful years. There was a time when Karyn thought she would be in law enforcement like her Kansas City MO mounted police officer father. But he envisioned her as a business owner. Sometimes, Father knows best.
Before criminology took her fancy, Karyn dreamed of being an interior designer. A high school part time retail job led to her management of the window dressing of all 21 stores in that chain. Then, “I needed new window ideas so I bought a book on floral design from the Brookside Dime Store. Next thing I knew I was taking floral design classes, which I eventually taught myself.” In college she studied business advertising/marketing, not criminology. And worked part time in floral shops. So often, it’s the dreams of youth that are the path life takes.
After college, a hopeful floral design business partnership ended abruptly and Karyn landed with zero income. The contacts she had made in business wanted to continue contracting her design services. “I began a business out of my parents’ basement. I did all the marketing. I took the orders, made them, delivered and billed. Dad bought me a used postal service jeep for deliveries.” Cash flow was tight, so this determined young woman managed a cleaning service at night for 18 months until she landed a big wedding design contract for a local businessperson. She was able to end the second job and hired her first employee, who is still with her. Soon after, Sidelines found a permanent location.
“I know my business would be nothing without my team of talented, devoted employees,” she comments, also noting that “an important role of any business owner is to create jobs.” Tight economic times “are good for business because they motivate.” She’s convinced that businesses that start during economic seasons like the present can be highly successful because everyone works harder. If you’re starting a business now, Karyn adds, “Be tenacious. Be willing to sacrifice and give up some personal life today for greater success tomorrow.”
“My husband Robert is my calm and strength in any storm,” Karyn says of her greatest supporter. He has taught her that regardless of any business accomplishments, none of it matters if she doesn’t take time to stop and smell the roses. Karyn does take time to enjoy life so that she can design the beauty she delivers into people’s lives. Visit Sidelines Custom Floral Designs Monday through Saturday, and let the creativity of Karyn and her team meet you at every glance and awaken all your senses.