Life, Interrupted: The Little Florist With Big Dreams

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Why you should care

Because flower power is still pretty powerful and pretty and powerful.

Tucked into a corner not far from the hustle of Union Square in New York City sits a compact flower shop run by one man: Paulino Gaspar. For 12 hours a day, seven days a week, Paulino clips, snips and composes the perfume-filled petals that color the shop that he named Angelina’s Petals.

“They take care of me,” Paulino says about the flowers. “They’re always happy … they never say anything. They don’t complain. They take care of me, they feed me, they even pay me!”

After working for years alongside his family in the convenience store neighboring Angelina’s Petals, Paulino grew hungry for more. “I knew nothing about flowers at the time,” Paulino says. “All I knew was that I wanted something more than what I had. Nobody else would hire me at the time, so I started this business. The only thing I knew about flowers was that I loved them.” The months following Paulino’s ambitious decision were filled with 12- to 15-hour workdays, seven days a week, alone. “To be successful, you have to work hard,” Paulino explains. “The only way I will succeed is if more people buy my flowers, and you never know when people need flowers. If they show up and I’m not here, I just don’t make anything.”

While he’s aware that his goals for his business rely on human traffic, the human element is also Paulino’s biggest fear and biggest necessity. “Let’s say I’m here, but some guy shows up with more money and buys me up. A factory will produce more bouquets than I can, but I craft each and every piece based on what that individual person needs and wants. It’s personal.”

As winter chills the floral walls of the shop that sits at 162 Third Avenue in New York, New York, Gaspar continues to open up at 8:00 a.m. every day. With an earned knowledge of color and florals, his days are spent crafting arrangements speaking to the requests of his faithful customers.

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