It started with a seed of knowledge, planted and cultivated by mentors and time. Now, that seed has grown into Matt Brown’s own business — The Flower Pot — with roots in Lillington.
Brown says his journey to business-ownership started when his mentor, O’Quinn-Peebles Funeral Home owner Paul Phillips, gave him a chance to run the floral shop, known as Josephine’s.
“Paul Phillips owned Josephine’s, he helped me get it started and I helped him get it started,” Brown said.
It started in the funeral home.
“He was ready to let me have the ropes and I was in a situation I could do it,” Brown said.
Taking over meant, for Brown, a chance to move the shop from the funeral home to where it sits now at 29 W. Front St., Lillington. Brown renamed the shop The Flower Pot — a name chosen because of its uniqueness and the sense it’s also expandable, he says.
“Still pretty much everything is the same,” he said. “Same people, same services, same products. The only thing that’s different is the name and the location.”
Brown officially began the transition on May 1. It took a month to move the business lock, stock and barrel.
“It took about a month to move, but we continued to do flower orders,” he said. “We had to close the gift shop to move the gift shop, but we’re back open.”
Brown held a grand opening at noon on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting and celebration at the new shop. Brown has an extensive inventory of flowers and all things floral and he also brought Josephine’s gift shop along with him as well. From Sassafras door mats, wind chimes and candles to cards, garden flags and wreaths, Brown says he has gifts, arrangements and plants for every occasion.
He also offers delivery and telephone orders to other florists for out-of-town needs as well.
When you ask Brown what gave him the idea to get into the floral business, it’s where the mentors who have been so important to him as a professional come into the picture.
He credits his friend Becky Putnam, who after retiring from Moen in Sanford decided to open her own shop as a hobby.
“Her and I teamed up and started a business,” Brown said. “And kind of went from there.”
The path which led Brown to working with Phillips and ultimately The Flower Pot, came from his passion for gardening. He knew he wanted to someday open a garden center, but also realized there wasn’t much more he could do as a designer in Putnam’s backyard.
“I bought a greenhouse and wanted to open a garden center in Lillington,” he said. “But in the meantime I needed a source of income until the garden center started growing.”
That’s when he and his friend Phillips came up with the idea for Josephine’s. Phillips already had a vacant building which would soon become the new floral shop.
“He proposed the idea of a flower and gift shop,” Brown said. “So I managed that from November of 2017 until I took over here.”
The garden center still waits in Brown’s mind for a chance to appear.
“It’s on the back burner, but not out the window,” he said. “One day I would like to expand and have a garden center in Lillington.”
Brown says his relationship with Phillips is still as strong as ever and was never in jeopardy.
“There’s probably some people out there who think Paul and I might have had a little bit of a disagreement and that I’ve started my own shop,” Brown said. “I want to emphasize that Paul and I still have a great working relationship and he gave me the opportunity.”
Brown also credits the late Eleanor Stevenson, owner of David Anthony’s in Fuquay-Varina as giving him the knowledge he needed to run the gift shop.
“I walked in up there one day and had heard she was retiring,” he said. “...We became the best of friends very quick. She helped us a lot. And we offer a lot of the inventory she offered.”