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Elaine Muller’s love of flowers began to take shape commercially when she sold single roses to South Beach diners, grew when she started an online floral business out of her Fort Myers home and has blossomed into a high-end European flower boutique in Naples. 

When Hurricane Ian passed through the area, causing mass amounts of flooding in Naples, Muller’s flower boutique, Jardin Floral Design, was lucky and did not sustain damage. The biggest hurdle was that flower coolers were full, with no power to keep them running.

“The second we could get to the shop, we packed up all the flowers and gave them away to those in the community,” Muller says, noting that the community was so grateful for a silver lining.   

The boutique at 4949 Tamiami Trail N. in Liberty Plaza also sells plants, puzzles, jewelry, hanging planters, pillows, candles and other unique gifts. 

“Everything is branding,” Muller explains as employee Maybe Gomez creates a huge orange and yellow Free Spirit Luxe bouquet. “Just the little things make the difference.”

To ensure her arrangements and gift boxes stand out, Muller offers Norman Love chocolates and organic wines from her neighbor, Natural Wine Naples, and tops them off with a hand-written card sealed with a dainty wax rose. Even gift boxes are distinctively boxed.

“What we bring to the Naples area is a really cute space, where we arrange flowers in a very unusual way,” Muller says. “Our flowers bring smiles and people absolutely love them.”

She refuses to use the cheap leaves that most florists use, favoring unusual greenery. Online reviews show customers appreciate her attention to detail, gushing about “sophistication and elegance,” and being “overwhelmed with the beauty.”

“The luxury quality of your floral design is outstanding. Jardin is truly a cut above other flower shops,” one says, while others rave, “Outstanding customer service” and “When you send an arrangement from Jardin Floral Design, you are not getting a bouquet of flowers, (but) a living work of art.”

Muller, who had a long retail career at Casual Corner and Cache, arrived in Miami in 1999 from Brazil with her now-husband, Christian, along with his best friend and girlfriend. Muller and the girlfriend needed money, so they purchased large packets of roses from Homestead farms, removed the thorns and sold them to South Beach diners.

“We went super-fast from restaurant to restaurant, selling one rose for $5. It was a weekend gig,” she says, adding that they took English classes every night.

The other couple moved to New York, where the girlfriend opened a flower boutique. Muller and her husband moved to Cape Coral, then to New York in 2001. She worked with her friend, immersing herself in the flower business, but just weeks after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, they returned to Fort Myers and she resumed her retail career. Her friend often flew her to New York to help with big events, such as Fashion Week, and urged Muller to open a high-end, European-style flower business in Florida.  

“She said, ‘Mother’s Day is coming up’ and she’d send me three ‘recipes’ for arrangements,” Muller recalls.

A friend at Bell Tower shops let her set up there, so she bought baskets and created arrangements. Two days before Mother’s Day 2015, Muller’s husband, an X-ray technician, incorporated Jardin Floral Design. The bouquets sold out. He then created a website and she set up shop in her Fort Myers kitchen. In 2019, after customers repeatedly asked for deliveries to Naples, she found a quaint corner shop in Liberty Plaza. 

Last season, her husband left his career to focus on their family and shop. Their daughters work during school breaks and help with weekend weddings, funerals, corporate events and other celebrations. Olivia, who got her driver’s license this year, delivers blooms, while Julia curates the unusual gift selection. The couple amended their corporate filing in 2020, adding the girls as business partners. 

“My bread and butter is deliveries,” Muller says, adding that one driver, 75-year-old T.K., is very popular with customers and is known as Mr. Bloom. For customers out of their delivery areas, “We’re pioneers on DoorDash.” 

The couple gives back to the community. “We get involved in causes that touch our hearts,” she says of New Horizon of SWFL, Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, Naples Pride and Harry Chapin Food Bank.

This season, on the first Saturday of the month, they’re offering “Give Back Monthly” events, donating a portion of sales to nonprofits. She’s teaching floral arranging classes, which can be booked by groups, and offering book signings by award-winning author and inspirational speaker Geraldine Brown Giomblanco.

Muller doesn’t worry about competitors. One particular day, a woman who had mapped a route with four shops arrived, telling Muller she’d done her research, checked her website and made Jardin the last stop, saying it offered the best chance of finding something she loved. 

“She spent two hours here looking around and spent nearly $500,” Muller says.

“I don’t see other shops as competition because I believe there is so much money here and opportunity for everybody,” she adds. “That’s why I got into the business. I felt that there was a huge opportunity to bring something new and something fresh.” 

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