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Robin McCallie is pictured in front of her new floral shop located at 161 North Lake Avenue, Phillips.

Robin McCallie grew up in Kennan, attending the School District of Phillips.  Over the years, she has worked various jobs, but it wasn't until recently that she found her career niche.

"I've always had a garden and a green thumb," Robin shared.  Throughout her life, she enjoyed making floral arrangements for family and friends.  Fast forward to one day in 2022, she found herself sitting around a campfire with friends on Madeline Island.  Two of those friends were planning their wedding, and the fiancé started picking wildflowers from the ditch.  Robin made a bouquet with those flowers, and the bride-to-be liked it so well she said, "Oh my gosh, Robin, you have to do my flowers!"  Robin agreed she could make her bouquet.

However, a few months passed, and Robin's grandma and one of her sisters needed her assistance due to health concerns.  Her grandma's cognitive abilities were failing, and Robin found herself taking care of all her needs and working with lawyers, social workers, and other officials to implement her proper plan of care, which was stressful and made her feel like she did not see any light at the end of the tunnel.  Given her time was limited, Robin asked her friend if someone else could make the bouquet, but her friend insisted she only wanted Robin to make her wedding bouquet.

Robin agreed to honor her friend's request to make the bouquet.  She planted flowers from seeds at various stages to be sure she had a large enough assortment of flowers ready at the right time.  With the abundance of floral options, that one bouquet turned into a number of bouquets, and soon she was decorating the ceremony and reception space with her floral arrangements.  "I got so many compliments that it was overwhelming and a little embarrassing to be getting that kind of attention," Robin shared.  "I didn't do it for the attention; I just did it to make my friend feel good."

Robin recently created this floral arrangement.

It was then that Robin realized working in her garden and making the floral arrangements was a great reliever of her stress, and it felt therapeutic to be working with nature, doing a hobby that she loves.  "Creating the flowers for the wedding was exactly what I needed when I thought it would be the opposite."  This was the spark that would lead her to realize she should become a florist.

Months after the wedding, the grandmother of James Stadter, her long-term partner, passed on.  Robin had gotten close with James' aunt, as they bonded while each of them were helping an elderly loved one, and she wanted to do something nice for the family, so she asked what she could do.  The aunt knew about the flowers she created for the wedding and asked Robin if she could create a standing spray for the funeral.  "I took that as a great honor, so I made a huge 3 ½ foot spray, and we drove it all the way to Sparta with the air conditioning on in the car, so it was freezing cold in there," she laughed, remembering what they all went through to make sure the flowers were kept fresh and perfect for the next day.

After the funeral, she realized that people often want to take the funeral flowers home, but when they are in a large arrangement such as a standing spray, it's difficult to find a place for them in someone's home.  For this funeral, she asked the family if she could disassemble the standing spray and make individual arrangements so everyone could take a piece of it home with them.  Since the lady who passed on was named Rosemary, she added some rosemary to the individual arrangements, and everyone was so pleased with getting to take home a smaller arrangement.  Again, she was receiving compliments and people were asking if she was a florist.

Not long after that funeral, James lost his grandfather, and Robin went to work again making floral arrangements.  This is where her defining moment came.  "It was when I was getting more compliments, that it just clicked, and I knew this is what I need to be doing.  I only had to hear it about five million times before I realized it, but finally I realized it," Robin admitted.

After that realization, she planned to work out of her "she shed," but those plans quickly expanded.  "That's how it all happened.  Before I knew it, I blinked, and I'm in business with a local grower in town, we harvest our own twigs and will be growing some of our own flowers, and I blinked, and I am in downtown, on main street, and it seemed to happen so easy and like it was just meant to be."


The overwhelming feeling of the enormity of her dream career coming to fruition happened early in the morning on her first day in business.  "I had a large order for my opening, and it was 5 o'clock in the morning.  It was dark with just the streetlights shining here and there, and everything was quiet.  I was there before the truck got there, and I never before heard town so quiet.  Then I heard the rumble of the truck.  The man jumped out and asked if I wanted to come into the truck to see what it looked like, so I climbed into the truck, and it was like I was a kid and Santa Claus just gave me all the Christmas presents that I wanted.  It was overwhelming.  We got all the flowers inside, and then he left, and I was there alone for the first time.  Before that I had friends in there with me every day helping me with painting, mudding, drilling, and doing this and doing that, and it was so surreal with it still dark outside, but everything lit up and beautiful, and all these flowers were in my shop.  It was like the final piece.  It was incredible for me," Robin shared, getting a bit choked up reflecting on how far she has come in life and with her career.

She added that James has helped her a lot on this journey.  "He really encouraged me throughout all this.  He was my constant and continues to be."

While this journey started about two years ago and her first day was about two months ago, her grand opening of Robin's Custom Arrangements, LLC is just over a week away.  Robin said there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2024.  She has put together an event that involves the powerlifting team selling plants in front of her shop for a fundraising event, and she let other businesses know that if they will be open that day, they can join in by offering sales or anything beneficial to the store owners and their customers.  Deer Creek Angus, LLC and a food truck will be on site or nearby, plus door prizes will be awarded.  Robin added, "Mary Behling will be selling her products on the sidewalk next door, and she donates her profits to the creation of cancer bags that help those dealing with the disease."  Since the event is the day before Mother's Day, it is the perfect time to buy some plants to support the Phillips High School powerlifting team and purchase some floral arrangements to welcome Robin as a new business owner and get something special for Mother's Day.  If you cannot make it on Saturday, or if you would like to find a Mother's Day gift a little earlier, Robin is offering door prizes from May 6th to May 9th during her walk-in hours.


Aside from the grand opening event, Robin said her walk-in hours will be Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  She said the hours are somewhat limited because she needs to factor in time for consultations and deliveries.  She knows that sometimes florists need to close for a short time to do those things, and then if someone is traveling from farther away, she doesn't feel it is fair for them to see a sign on her door that she is unexpectedly closed.  "I will definitely be open during my walk-in hours," Robin said.  She added that she welcomes appointments for floral consultations.  Her shop has a comfortable seating area, and she offers complimentary beverages such as coffee, wine, beer, water, or whichever beverage matches the occasion.

Apollo, a service dog, recently visited Robin's shop.

Robin offers floral arrangements for any occasion whether it be a wedding bouquet, sympathy arrangement, Prom flowers, a birthday, Mother's Day, or just because.  She has various flowers and woodland vegetation in stock to make your vision a reality.  She will construct an arrangement for a funeral and then make smaller arrangements as she did after the funeral of James' grandmother.  She can also dry the flowers and place them in a shadow box or glass container, along with the memorial card, if someone would like to keep the flowers as a memorial to their loved one.  Robin is open to ideas and also has plenty of her own ideas.  She is looking forward to seeing her customer's happy because of her floral arrangements.  "It's nice to make everyone's life a little better," Robin said, noting flowers often make people happy and relaxed even in stressful situations.

To welcome Robin as the new florist in town, and to see some of her beautiful floral creations, follow her Facebook page at this link.  Her shop is located at 161 North Lake Avenue in Phillips.  You can reach her via phone at <a href="tel:715-820-1421">715-820-1421</a>.


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Written By:  Lynne Bohn,