My story starts off with the cliche “Aha Moment”— my Mother’s sudden death. A heart attack in her sleep, at age 66. The true meaning of Life is Short had brought clarity to my life.
After months of “what color is your parachute” surveys, long conversations and my husband’s support, I was able to re-invent myself. In 2002, Katrina Parris Flowers (KPF) was established, a floral boutique in Harlem, New York City.
My beginnings as an entrepreneur were humble. I started KPF in my tiny ass apartment on 121st street. There wasn’t anything I didn’t do; I bought the flowers, arranged the flowers and delivered the flowers.
New York Wedding Magazine covered us, and within the blink of an eye, I started providing flowers for crazy rich brides, Swarovski Crystals, Bad Boy Entertainment and many others. Even voted a top 10 florist four years in a row and featured in Oprah’s O Magazine.
Me being interviewed back in the day.
Hitting My Wall
Like many women, I tried to do it all; floral designer, wife, mother and friend. And, when you are an entrepreneur, you are constantly having to be at your best.
After 15 years of juggling business, home and kids, I had hit a wall— at high impact! It started with the premature birth of my first son, Nigel. Born several weeks early and weighing only 2.2 lbs, it was a frightening moment in our life which made you rethink life and purpose. Two years later, Luke was born; a healthy full-term baby. All THANKS TO GOD, both Nigel and Luke are healthy and happy young men.
Despite hitting the wall, I kept at the floral business for many reasons, except passion. It was pure craziness seven days a week running around like a mad woman trying not to disappoint myself, my children, husband, and clients. No one understood how much the floral business took time away from my boys ---- and myself..
In 2015, it was time to let go. I realized that I didn’t have to do everything — and that realization was the hardest part of making a change. I had to understand my priorities and do what’s best for my sanity.
My husband Mark and I decided to sell KPF. During that time, my two boys began their entrepreneurial journey and started a selling bake goods, old toys, books and original artwork; the original NiLu was born! And, they made real bank.
It was gratifying seeing their ingenuity at work, and furthered the idea of providing something new to the neighborhood.
Nigel and Luke on the 116th Street Subway Platform
Upon selling KPF in January of 2015, we decided to give it a go and open a unique gift shop experience that not only featured local makers, but also unique gifts that were thoughtful, purposeful and mindful, for the community. We named it, NiLu.
Yes, I re-invented myself again but with boundaries. Right now, FOR ME, it’s about living a balanced life and reconnecting with my family, friends and myself. Also understanding life is too short to settle on a single plan that’s no longer gratifying.
I hope you’ll check in later for more stories about balanced living, purposeful gifting, makers, community culture and crafts. What's your origin story? If you enjoyed reading about mine, give it a share!