Who's That Gal: Allegra Murray, Owner of The Petal Peddler’s Shop
Name: Allegra Murray
Age: Is a state of mind
Occupation: Owner of The Petal Peddler’s Shop
Hometown: Long Island, New York
Current ‘hood: Milton, Massachusetts
Currently reading: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Favorite workout: Dancing
Favorite Boston spot: Boston Public Library
I never leave home without____: Water, my phone, and business cards
Tell us more about what you do. What is The Petal Peddler’s Shop?
I volunteer with several local nonprofits, including the Milton Public Library. In 2017, I created centerpieces for the library’s Jane Austen-themed tea which featured handcrafted book page roses. The flowers were so well received at the event that I was inspired to start a small business that specializes in handcrafting beautiful flowers from unique papers. Today, The Petal Peddler’s Shop has created over 550 flowers from different papers including sheet music, maps, comic books, crossword puzzles, and client-provided papers.
Do you have any favorite projects you’ve done?
It’s challenging to pick a favorite creation because no two flowers are ever identical. Different papers hold special meanings to people; it could be a map of a friend’s new hometown or a favorite book of a family member. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to hear the stories behind their paper selections and create meaningful keepsakes that people can cherish every day.
What’s the best thing about starting your own business?
Specializing in custom orders has given me the flexibility to continuously evolve my business and inspire new creations. I’ve had the privilege of transforming into roses children’s artwork, pages from a 1930’s Boston newspaper, a dinner menu from 1945, trail maps, and more. With each different paper or custom order, I continue to grow and develop as an artist.
What’s the hardest?
Because I want the flowers I create to be unique and special for my clients, I do not use machines, paper punches, or templates. Everything is done by hand, which means the process takes longer; however, the end result is always well worth the time!
How do you design the flowers? Tell us a little more about the process.
I begin each order by discussing the types of paper to be used to create the flowers. Clients may select from the paper available in The Shop’s inventory or provide their own paper to be transformed into flowers. The Shop has vintage maps, classical sheet music, and over 35 book titles from which to choose. Next, we discuss customization options which may include hand-painting the flowers, coloring the edges of each petal, and other special finishes. The Shop’s flowers may be given (or kept!) as bouquets or integrated into ornaments, shadow boxes, jewelry, centerpieces, and other unique gifts. I’ve also had the honor of making bridal bouquets and boutonnières for weddings. Because the flowers are made of paper, they can be kept as a reminder of a special event or person.
What skill is most important for you to be successful? Why?
Providing excellent customer service is essential for building and maintaining client loyalty. When ordering through The Petal Peddler’s Shop, there are no drop-down menus from which to pick standard options or order forms to complete. Each customer communicates with me directly regarding their order via email or Facebook Messenger. This allows me the opportunity to ask and answer questions about the order, and create something truly special for them. As a result, many of my clients continue to request new custom pieces.
How do you balance your professional life with your personal one?
I love multitasking! I often create flowers with my 5-year-old son sitting beside me coloring, spending time talking to my husband, all while watching a movie or listening to music. You always make time for the people who matter most.
Any advice for other professional ladies?
There is an old saying that goes if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I genuinely enjoy all aspects of my business, from designing new flowers to engaging with customers on The Shop’s social media pages. Find your passion and incorporate it into your profession!
As someone who works with pages from books everyday, do you have any favorites you’d like to recommend?
I always try to read a little every night before I go to bed, anything from nonfiction to sci-fi. That being said, I always recommend for people to read the “classics” such as Pride and Prejudice, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and even more contemporary works like The Great Gatsby. They are considered classics because their story is timeless and the characters are incredibly well-written.
Anything else you want to share?
Don’t be afraid to take risks or make mistakes. If you have a passion, embrace it! If you have an interest, explore it! Follow your dreams and try to live your life without regret.
Lindsay Gardner is an Instructional Designer living and working in Boston. You can follow her on Instagram @lindsaygardner09.