By Laurie Stone
Editor’s Note: The News-Tribune is doing a weekly feature on business owners who have been with their respective businesses for five years or longer.
Roses, daisies, lilies and baby’s breath are some of the necessities needed for business owners Linda Ward Bell and Rena Foster Clark to turn a customer’s vision into a reality.
Since Clark was 16 years old, she has desired to work in a flower shop.
“I loved the designing part of the business,” she said.
In 1971, Rena began working with Elvis and Billy Joe Hestand as their bookkeeper, but was later moved to designing arrangements which provided her the experience she needed to run her own business.
They purchased Joe’s Flower shop in May of 1978.
“We discussed owning our own flower shop, just as a joke, until the day came when we decided to just go for it,” said Clark.
Bell and Clark describe themselves as two compatible friends that compliment one another.
“We may have our difficult days, but we never let things build up between us,” said Bell.
Clark’s strength is designing and Bell’s is tending to the business.
“Clark has taught me a lot about designing, which enables me to help her with the flowers,” she said.
They both agreed that it was a challenge, at times, to take a customer’s vision (i.e., for a wedding bouquet or arrangement) and figure out the in-betweens of what the customer’s expectations are and how they can creatively bring it together.
“Sometimes its not what you start out doing that counts, it’s what you end up with,” said Clark.
They have faced many obstacles in their 26 years at Joe’s Flowers, but have tried to use those pressure moments as a challenge to make themselves strive above their potential.
One of their most memorable times was one Christmas season when a gentleman hired them to decorate his mother’s entire house, inside and out, for the holiday.
“We had so much fun,” Clark said. “It was like going shopping and someone saying, ‘There is no limit, just make it pretty.”’
Being business owners, they have learned to be patient, how to make things work when complications arise, and how to stand firm in what you believed in when things around you seemed to be falling apart.
Bell said her friendship with Clark is what makes their business such a success. “She has always been there for me and we laugh a lot,” Bell said.
Last year alone, the two women had to face the challenge of six deaths in their families.
“The business was our anchor for keeping it together,” said Bell.