When Danielle Dennis closes her eyes at night, she doesn't dream about buying a brand-new car or taking an exotic Caribbean cruise.
No, when the 21-year-old
Sequim graduate winds down from the day, she fantasizes about flowers, gardens and colorful bouquets. Which is exactly why she recently bought Avant Garde, a floral shop in Carlsborg.
"I've wanted to do this for a really long time," Dennis said about opening a flower business. "Flowers are the only things that ever interested me and grabbed my eye. I have a knack for floral design and creating beautiful things."
Dennis opened her shop's doors Sept. 1. A grand reopening celebration is tentatively scheduled for mid-September but an exact date hasn't been set.
Dennis learned most of what she knows about floral design from Carol Wagner, who owned and operated The Garden Florist for 14 years before closing last May, and teaches classes at Sequim High School.
"I would really like to work with Carol at the school and do the same for students that she did for me," Dennis said. "That program really helped me out. I didn't like school but it helped point me in the right direction - and now I'm a business owner."
Avant Garde specializes in day-to-day floral needs as well as deliveries - local and out of town - and special events.
"There are so many aspects of the floral industry and it's all fun and different and creative," Dennis said passionately.
"My favorite part is mixing 'run of the mill' bouquets, using traditional flowers like roses and Gerber daisies, with tropical flowers and orchids and other fun stuff to create a youthful flair."
Though she's running the shop by herself, Dennis credits her family with helping her get to where she is today. Her mother is working part time at the shop doing the books, her brother is helping with deliveries until he leaves for college at the end of the month and her father is planning to take over deliveries when he comes home on leave from his Alaskan fishing job.
Dennis purchased the business from Kindryn Domning, who originally opened the store in downtown Sequim. The shop burned in a fire and she relocated to Carlsborg in early 2006.
Avant Garde was Domning's lifelong dream. But now, the florist is taking a leave of absence from working to spend time with her growing family. Domning and her husband have a 21/2-year-old daughter and are expecting their second child, a boy, this fall.
"I can't imagine having two kids and a business," Domning said. "It takes a big commitment and something had to give."
Domning said she is pleased to see Avant Garde be passed along to a hard-working young woman so much like herself. "The business is growing and is busy," she said. "It will be a good place for her to take over. It's time for me to bow out for a while, and she is young and doesn't have a husband or kids yet."
Like Dennis, Domning credits her family with her success as a businesswoman.
"I absolutely couldn't have done it without the help of my mother," she said. "If I could clone my mother, I could probably keep the business. But that's not an option."
Despite an economic slump, Domning said she has no doubts that Dennis will be OK financially. In fact, she said, it's been her experience that when the economy slows so do day-to-day earnings but then holidays are 10 times as busy.
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Danielle Dennis bought Avant Garde floral shop, 261321 Highway 101 West, from Kindryn Domning at the end of August. Business hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Dennis encourages people to send flowers "just because," not only for special occasions. Orders can be made in person, online at www.sequimflorist.com or by calling 683-5218.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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