An elective course in floral design turned out to be a soothing escape for Mikel McGee, who signed up for the class while finishing her bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders at UW-Milwaukee. She enjoyed it so much that she took a seasonal job at the South Side boutique Flowers by Jan, while pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice, also from UWM.
Then she started designing bouquets – using flowers bought at Trader Joe’s – for friends and family members, making them so often that her kitchen became “a beautiful-smelling mess.”
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On a whim, McGee created an Instagram page, adopting the name 414loral. Orders started flowing in. And in August, she moved into a storefront in the Bronzeville/Harambee neighborhood.
“It’s something that’s very fulfilling – to be able to share with someone and see how flowers brighten their day,” says McGee, who also worked with survivors of domestic violence, assault and human trafficking at Sojourner Family Peace Center until she began pursuing floral design full time.
Another goal is to serve underrepresented communities. “There are other Black-owned florists in Milwaukee, but they are very few and far between,” she says. “Representation really matters.”