Moss: Where Flowers Are Fair

I found Moss completely by accident while I was exploring Tyler, Texas a few weeks ago. I worked in a flower shop while I was in college and was intrigued to see what Moss was all about. After browsing their store filled with unique, whimsical gifts and treasures, plus plants and other green pretty things, I was impressed by the building itself. I had a nice visit with co-owner, Meagan Lissner and she told me the building used to house a law firm and was floor to drop ceiling brown paneling and dated carpet. Fortunately, Meagan saw a lot of potential in the space and began sketching out plans. With the support of her landlord who happens to be the Mayor of Tyler, Martin Heines, they set to work renovating the space. The results are beautiful with natural light flowing in from oversize front windows, an industrial curved metal staircase and exposed brick walls.

Moss was in business for 5 years at a different location in Tyler before moving into the newly remodeled building. Needless to say, Meagan and her Mom/business partner, Paige Mcguffey had learned a lot in that time. Paige already ran a successful business, East Texas Business Printing for 20 years. The new space proved to be bigger and more welcoming to foot traffic close to downtown. It also boasts an upstairs perfect for intimate events and classes of all kinds.

Meagan is a Tyler, TX native and worked for a florist during high school. After getting diagnosed with diabetes, she took a break from attending college to focus on her health and immerse herself in flowers full time. She found her niche and nearly bought the flower shop she worked for twice. By this time Meagan had met her husband and they started their family which put a little glitch in the timing of taking on a new business venture so she waited.

In the meantime her husband’s job took them to Wisconsin for a year and a half. This move allowed Meagan a lot of time to research things she grew to be passionate about. This included discovering the concept behind “Fair Trade” practices and how they could be incorporated into her future business. Those two words are more familiar now than they were over 7 years ago. Today it’s not uncommon to see “fair trade coffee” or chocolate. What does that mean exactly? Coffee, chocolate and flowers are often produced in developing countries without labor laws. This translates to people (often women) working for less than a living wage, without health care, maternity leave and in the worst cases people are enslaved to their employer. Once Meagan became aware of the significance that fair trade practices have in making a positive impact in the world, she knew she wanted to be on the right side of procuring flowers.

After moving back to Tyler she started making phone calls in preparation for opening Moss, inquiring about the conditions where flowers were coming from. Most suppliers had never heard of fair trade but many were interested and supportive of the concept. Like anything else, unless there is a demand for something nothing will change. Meagan knew from the beginning she wanted to give back and add value to her job by helping others. While she shops locally first, purchasing from flower farms in Van and Laneville, TX it’s impossible to get enough variety year round without sourcing outside of the United States. Fortunately the beautiful flowers she gets are from family run farms that subscribe to the fair trade practice.

Speaking of family, I asked Meagan what it’s like working with her Mom. She shared that they are really close and have similar personalities which can lead to the occasional clash but overall it sounds like they complement one another. When I wondered out loud what her work/life balance looks like with an 11, 9 and 7 year old plus a 9 month old she had to laugh. The kids attend school nearby the shop and Meagan relies on her talented employees to handle front of house duties while she does all the back end work and consults for weddings and events. Wedding season picks up in the Fall and it’s not uncommon to fulfill at least 1 wedding every weekend. Meagan’s favorite events are typically more intimate where she can fully transform a space to reflect her client’s personality.

While summer tends to be slower it allows for time to make future plans, like what classes to host. Moss puts on a variety of different classes and events like floral design, seasonal wreath making, succulent workshops, potting classes and terrarium design to name a few. They host outside events like bridal/baby showers, ladies night, birthday parties, garden clubs and children’s classes.

I asked her who typically shops at Moss and while there is a pretty good balance of both men and women ordering flowers, she gets a lot of college students who simply want to use Moss as a photo backdrop. Can’t say I blame them, the front porch and shop both lend themselves to magazine worthy scenes. You can order online, by phone or simply walk-in. It’s helpful to know a little bit about the intended person’s likes or personality in order to customize your bouquet but not necessary. The floral designers at Moss have you covered either way and they even offer grab and go bouquets in the front if you need something quickly.

I remembered some of the challenges we faced at the florist I worked for and I wanted to know if Meagan shared similar experiences. Unless you have worked at a florist you may not know that flower suppliers don’t offer single stems so when a customer calls and orders 27 red roses for example your florist will have to order 3 dozen roses. There is a lot of unpredictability when dealing with flowers. Sometimes they come in wilted or even dead so you have to be really flexible. Customers may have a particular color in mind to match a prom dress for instance but flowers don’t always lend themselves to consistently playing by set color rules.

Meagan acknowledges supporting other small, local business owners through carrying their products in Moss as one of the rewards of owning her own business. In fact, she hosted Music Makers and Moss twice a year for people that wanted to get their products out in the community but didn’t have a storefront in order to do so. She employs 5 full time people, 2 alternating delivery drivers and during Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day she has up to 8 people working on orders. Meagan loves watching people grow and succeed and that’s evident by her personality. She’s warm, caring and welcoming. This really comes through when I inquired about her future plans. Ideally, she said she would love to have some land in Tyler that she could make into a local flower farm and employ women who may have difficulty getting jobs. This mindset has developed over time and her experience as an advocate to help victims of sex trafficking through the organization, For the Silent. Previously, she had also provided a space for kids aging out of the foster system to join her in learning basic workplace skills and flower arranging. You may have seen some of Moss’s arrangements at Tyler’s annual Rose Fest, they participate every year.

While Meagan loves her current location and has no plans to go anywhere she would love to open up a second location in Austin, TX. When the kids get a little older traveling abroad to see fair trade flower farms is something she would like to do. Moss is much more than a florist. By supporting them you are also supporting other small, local businesses, fair trade practices and community outreach. I was really inspired getting a behind the scenes look at Meagan’s motivation for running her own business. I hope you visit them next time you are in Tyler or check out their website, www.welovemoss.com to order flowers and learn about upcoming events.

Moss – where flowers are fair
Mon-Fri 10:00am-5:30pm
Sat. 10:00am-3:00pm
237 South Broadway Ave., Tyler, TX 75702 • 903.787.8822
IG and Facebook @welovemoss

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