Zuzu’s Petals turns 50

We hear from the owner Fonda, featured as part of our Small Business Wonder Women initiative.

“I have been selling flowers and growing things for fifty years.
I stumbled upon my career path accidentally.
I went to college and graduate school to be certified as a K-12 art teacher in the NY public schools because that is what young women did in the 60’s.
After 3 years i realized that didn’t work for me….. at all.

Unemployed and newly single, i walked into the local plantshop to ask if they were hiring.
Yes they were …., and 2 years later, i bought the business for $15,000 inherited from my second cousin who had advised me to find something i loved to do that i wouldn’t lose no matter who left me or who died.

During the last 50 years i have watched park slope evolve from an unloved red-lined real estate step child to a wunderkind.
My business has survived 2 economic downturns, a fire that caused us to relocate from our home of 35 years and start over, hurricane sandy and most recently, the pandemic of 2020.

I think love is the most important driving force in zuzu’s petals’ longevity.
I love growing things.
I have a physical reaction to natural beauty.
After all these years, i am still moved by the colors and configurations of petals, stems and leaves.

Sharing that passion with customers and the people who have worked with me over the years
is soul sustaining.
It gives my life meaning and purpose.
In selling flowers you share a personal experience with another person….whether the occasion is special or ordinary…..there is a connection that may trigger the beginning of an ongoing relationship or just a brief memorable encounter.
At my 50th birthday party there were 80 guests, and the only person i had not met through the shop was my mother.

Most rewarding and challenging in running a small business are the relationships you have with the people who work with you.
Having no biological children, i am blessed with a host of botanical ones who have passed through on their way to finding the place they belong.
The shop has been described as a nest, or an incubator….a place to be nurtured and strengthened. It has not been that way for all, but for many, working with growing things stuck.
You can find former zuzus running their own shops, in charge of important public gardens, or just including flowers and plants in their lives.
I am proud of them all.

Being in business for 50 years was never a conscious goal.
I just kept doing it because it was what i loved.
It sustained me and supported me.
It allowed me to live my life as an independent woman.
I have been able to meet every challenge that threatened my business and intend to persist in surviving this pandemic.
The shop is named for a little girl in an old time movie from the 40’s.
Appropriately…. so far, it’s been a wonderful life.”