Community Check-In: How A Florist Blossomed


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Louisa Amabile Testa is the owner of Louisa Amabile Testa LLC Floral and Visual Designer, located on Grove Street in Verona since 2021. But my Aunt Louisa’s story goes back over 20 years, beginning in Bloomfield at what used to be Roxy Florist.

Louisa, a Montclair native, left college before graduating, searching for a career path that would let her use her artistic talents. When she found Roxy Florist and asked for a job, thinking flowers could be something she could be good at, the owner told her to take a certification class and then ask again.

My aunt said he probably didn’t expect her to take him seriously but went anyway to a florist in Brick to get her certification. A couple of months later, she had a job at Roxy’s.

After learning the business there, Louisa opened her first flower store on Grove Street in Montclair at 22 years old. She was there for six years before closing the shop and moving to Hanover Floral.

Louisa’s current business came years later when she was a mom of four and had a hunger to start something new. In 2001, Louisa’s triplets were born, and then, two years later, her youngest son, John, came into the picture.

“I went to garage sales and bought 25-cent vases, and I cleaned them all,” she explained, “and then I made 30 vase arrangements and drove around with the triplets and John in the car to wherever I was driving them, with a card that I had printed that said if you would like something like this every week, it would be $25 a week. No delivery and no tax.”

“That’s what started my momentum,” she said. “I was hungry to keep things rolling. I built this business from nothing. I was just a mom of four kids.”

The Flowers

Louisa’s business now does all kinds of flowers, from funerals to weddings, anniversary bouquets and more. “We do weekly orders for restaurants, and doctor’s offices get flowers every week,” she said. “We do country clubs, and then we do showers and big events.”

We did the interview the Friday before Valentine’s Day in her workspace, so I got to watch my aunt’s employees putting together vase after vase of red and white flowers.

“What you see here,” she said gesturing to the smaller flower orders around the store, “it’s what pays the bills. These are the bread and butter.”

“I’ll never say no,” she said to me as she finished making another ribbon flower.

Louisa’s workshop in Verona is small and lively. I sat on a stool across from my aunt while her employees fluttered around us.

One shelf held racks of all different-sized vases. I asked if people ever return their vases, and someone explained that they upcycle most of their vases.

“We built the business on recycled glass,” she said. Louisa always asks her clients to donate their vases back to the shop if they don’t want to keep them. A simple but extremely effective way to sustain a business.

A Very Local Business

As I write these Community Check-Ins, I’m curious to know how being a local business, especially in the area you’re from, affects your clientele. Like I talked about with my dad’s store, he was constantly seeing familiar faces from his past and his present during his 30 years in Montclair.

When Louisa first was getting started on Grove Street, she experienced the results of working in the town she grew up in. “Most businesses don’t make it the first year, but I had so much family,” she said. “Everybody used me because they knew who I was.”

There was also convenience. When Louisa was later based out of her Montclair house, she had a walk-in refrigerator next to her kitchen and her entire setup in her basement. During the pandemic, Louisa and her family moved out of Montclair for the first time, leaving her in-the-house fridge behind.

“I sold the house not knowing what the next phase of my business was going to be,” she said. “My realtor that helped me sell the house found this little spot here and said, ‘Why don’t you try it for a year, and if things don’t come back, I’ll just not renew the lease’.” She told me that she misses Montclair, but by moving not far to Verona, she was able to keep her original clientele who mean so much to her close by.

We talked about how different it is to no longer just walk to her basement to get to work. Now, when the day ends, she can shut the lights off and leave her work at work.

“I love going home to not having the business in my home,” she says. “I love the idea of coming here, and it’s here. It’s more. Yeah, the store is more professional.”

Julia DiGeronimo, Verona High School Class of 2019, is a freelance writer. This post is adapted from her blog,, where she will publish more Community Check-Ins.

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