Thursday, May 7, 2009

Interview with ZuZu's Petals

Here is the first in a regular series of interviews that will highlight local leaders in the business and nonprofit sector along the Avenue. This is an interview of Sara Fonda, owner of Zuzu's Petals.

Where are you from originally? I grew up by the ocean in Belle Harbor, New York. A year ago, I moved back to my childhood home full time.I spent the first half of my life running away from home and the second half finding my way back.

How long have you been on 5th Avenue and what made you chose the location? Zuzu's petals moved to 5th Avenue in November 2004 after a fire in the restaurant next door burned us out of our home of 33 years on 7th avenue. We chose this location because of the sunny outdoor space behind the shop, the proximity to our customer base, and the new residential development between 4th and 5th Avenues.

What, typically, is the most popular Mother's Day flower and has that changed over time? Hands down it's lilac and peonies for Mother's Day...both are in season and tap into some universal nostalgia for the gardens of our childhood.

Some people say that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and nature. Do you agree? There is no separation between human beings and nature. some of us are more attuned to the changing of the seasons and growing things, but all of us are connected to nature.

Are you a gardener yourself? Absolutely! I come from a long line of farmers/gardeners. I feel so fortunate to have inherited my Father's garden, I have trees that my dad planted from tiny slips that tower over the house, and much of my garden time is spent "renovating" his shrubs that have outgrown their place in the border. Gardening feeds me emotionally and spiritually.

There is movement afoot to fill urban gardens and green spaces with indigenous plants. What are the challenges of urban gardening and how do see your business as it relates to sustainability and the increased attention people are giving to local food and ecosystems? Brooklyn gardening is a challenge on so many fronts: from the potentially toxic mysteries buried in the soil to the deep shade cast by our neighbors' trees and houses. We have always focused on plants that thrive in small shady spaces, trying to provide the most 'bang for your gardening buck' by offering an unusual selection of non-invasive, well balanced companion plants. We are thrilled to offer an expanded line of vegetables plants this season and an extraordinary line of organic soils and fertilizers. Bat Guano, Feather Meal, Worm Castings...YUM!

What are the greatest challenges facing your business and what are its greatest rewards? Zuzu's petals has survived trial by fire. Having to re-locate and start over was our greatest challenge, far outweighing, rent increases, competition, recession, inflation...our greatest reward is the love and support of our customers. The shop's name is from the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." In the last scene, George Bailey is rescued from financial disaster by people he helped through his business over the years. Zuzu's customers came to our rescue after the fire, giving us seed money to start rebuilding...a mandate to return our shop to their lives.

Interview conducted by Rebeccah Welch

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