Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Growing Joy

Fleurs de Villes puts on 90th show Nov. 2–6
Lillian Walters

Editor’s note: This story was written as a part of the Online News Package competition, hosted by NHSJC in Boston, Massachusetts. This story won an “Excellent.”

There is a woman in Chicago and she is crying. 

In front of her, a floral display sits and Karen Marshall stands next to it. The woman works her way over and tells Marshall, “You reminded me what joy feels like.” 

Then, a beat later with still-glossy eyes, she adds: “I haven’t felt joy in a very long time.” 

Months later, in Québec, a group of seniors spots a similar exhibit. Almost all of them have dementia or Alzheimer’s, but their faces light up when they see the display — nothing but “big, big smiles” on their faces as their caretakers find Marshall. 

“I haven’t seen them smile like that in ages,” one of them says to her. “Thank you.” 

Marshall smiles, like she has every time this has happened before, and she knows that the company she helped build from the ground up is “worth every trouble it’s ever given” to her.

Created in 2016 by Karen Marshall and Tina Barkley, Fleurs de Villes’ is an event company that brings floral designs across the globe. The Prudential Center is hosting their 90th showcase, “VOYAGE,” Nov. 2–6. 

“People are happy when they see these,” Marshall said. “Seeing that — knowing we’re spreading that kind of joy and showing the beauty still in the world — is what we aim to do.” 

Barkley had the original idea, already in the process of starting a floral business when Marshall approached her. Marshall, still working in marketing, said that she had a client who wanted something special. Together, they began adapting Barkley’s vision. Soon, they had the company Fleurs de Villes — flowers of the cities. 

“We recognized that we had an opportunity and a duty,” Marshall said. “We had a belief and a surety that flowers make people happy. We wanted to bring any joy we could to as many people as we could.”

Putting on their first showcase in Victoria, British Columbia, the two held the company as a passion project — “a side hobby.” Still, standing in front of the mall and waiting for the local florists to arrive, Barkley was “filled with anxiety.” 

“I just kept thinking: ‘Please let this be what we said it would be,’” Barkley said. “Not only did it meet those expectations, but it exceeded them.” 

A month later, Fleurs de Villes put on their second show in Vancouver, British Columbia. The next year, they were invited back. Two showcases turned to five, five turned to seven, and, four years into their company, Marshall and Barkley hosted their first show outside of Canada. 

“The business kept expanding,” Marshall said. “We kept over-delivering, giving each host more than we promised. We didn’t have a lot those first few years, but we had a vision and a team that believed in that vision.”

In 2020, the company had 18 planned showcases but had to cancel all but two. Those that remained open became outside trails in Vancouver and Toronto. Their grand scale lowered for the next year, as social distancing mandates restricted big, indoor events. 

“We only made it due to our sheer determination,” Marshall said. “We had a dream and we didn’t give up on it.” 

When the pandemic was over, Fleurs de Villes returned to their original showcases and continued to use their platform as a way of raising money. In 2021, they hosted the show “ROSÈ,” which raised over $10,000 for breast cancer awareness. Last year, the company put on “FEMMES,” a “global celebration of remarkable women from all walks of life.”

“We try to bring joy to everyone,” Barkley said. “We bring the flowers to the people, no matter the money in their bank account or what language they speak.”

Some residents who had seen the showcases in other cities reached out to ask for Fleurs de Villes to put on a showcase in Boston. Although they started their theme in Miami, the one at the Prudential Center will be the 10th “VOYAGE” showcase.

“It was a constant ‘When are you coming to Boston?’” Marshall said. “We listened, we showed up [and] we’re so glad to be here.” 

This showcase features 16 mannequins, the 15 ones inside all with real flowers, and aims to “present a cultural storytelling experience that connects the world through flowers.” It features new countries, such as Ireland.

“It feels like I’m bringing my culture to life,” Yanique Shaw, a designer for “VOYAGE,” said. “For [Fleurs de Villes] to come to us and let us release our creativity is amazing. It’s something incredibly rewarding and extremely unique.” 

Now, the company has 20 employees and has worked with almost 1000 floral artists in five different countries — Canada, the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Scotland. This is their first showcase in Boston, but Marshall said she does not plan for it to be the last. 

“[Fleurs de Villes] is our north star,” Marshall said. “Spreading flowers around the world and allowing people to discover these stories — it’s something I’m incredibly grateful for and still can’t believe I’m able to do.”

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About the Contributors
Krista Fleming
Krista Fleming, Managing Editor
Junior Krista Fleming is the managing editor and this is her third year on staff. She enjoys reading, teaching preschoolers and volunteering.
Peyton Kuschmeider
Peyton Kuschmeider, Multimedia Editor
Junior Peyton Kuschmeider is the multimedia editor and this is her second year on staff. In her free time, she loves to take photos, read, write, go on long drives and works at Texas Roadhouse. 

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