MINT HILL, NC – Flowers hold a special place in everyone’s life at some point. They have a presence in times of sorrow, happiness, thankfulness, and celebration – the list goes on and on. Whether you are gifting or receiving, flowers have a way of igniting the senses and changing the way someone feels almost instantly. The beauty of each flower comes from a process that follows very particular stages: being planted, sprouting, transforming into a bud, then blooming into a beautiful blossom. This transformation is seen throughout life, each stage just as important as the next. Mirroring the stages of a flower, the Mint Hill Flower Market has been planted, rooted, and is now blooming in Downtown Mint Hill.
Kat dePrater, co-owner of the Mint Hill Flower Market, has been a resident of Mint Hill for almost a decade. When she initially moved to Mint Hill, she was working for corporate America, catching flights throughout the week, and landing back home in time for her other full-time job, Mom to her son Jacob. While chatting to Kat for this article, it was clear to see her work ethic comes from her strong foundation in life. Kat is the daughter of two Presbyterian Ministers. While growing up, Kat and her family had the opportunity to move around, serving churches all over the East Coast.
When the time came to plant roots, though, Kat knew North Carolina was calling her home. Moving here to attend college, then building a 20+ year career with two Fortune 500 companies, Kat appeared to be living a great life to most who looked on. As Kat describes it though, her life changed dramatically in 2016. Kat chose to leave an unhealthy marriage and focus on raising her son as a single mom. Ten months later, her Dad, whom she describes as “her rock” passed away days after calling her to come home for a visit. She walked the journey of grief that following year, but constantly went back to a conversation she had with her dad during his final days. As she sat on a plane in February 2018, reflecting on her life and all that had happened in 2016, she knew it was time for a change that would dramatically alter her and her son’s life. Kat says she “knew change would be uncomfortable, but so would regret.” She says she knew that if she wanted to take a risk, that was the time. That evening she went home, dusted off a business plan she had written in 2014, and by sunrise the next day, The Gift Workshop was born.
The Gift Workshop was established in 2018, instantly becoming a wonderful addition to the Mint Hill small business community. It was the new local hotspot offering DIY workshops, and a retail gift boutique offering the season’s best home decor and gift items. The workshop was a success, selling out DIY workshops multiple nights a week, and maintaining a retail shop that was growing with every passing month. However, when COVID hit in early 2020, the world – and the future of many small businesses like Kat’s – was forever changed. As the state went into a mandatory lockdown, Kat was forced to close her business indefinitely. As other businesses reopened, Kat was still incredibly restricted due to regulations on gatherings. One thing people kept calling for though, was Kat’s flower arrangements. Just like the stages of the flower, The Gift Workshop rooted Kat into the community, and now as her business model was naturally changing, she knew she had to re-seed her plan. In the coming days, as she struggled with closing her business, or continuing to take risks to try to save it, her phone rang, and on the other end was her close friend, Todd Smith.
Todd and Kat have been friends for years. The bond of friendship these two have is best described as admirable. Todd has been in the flower industry for over 40 years. The son of a highly admired florist in Michigan, Todd grew up working in flower shops his family owned and continued to nurture this love of flowers after college by building a career in the wholesale flower business, brokering with flower farms all over the world. Todd’s floral knowledge, and incredible design experience paired with Kat’s love of flowers and creative mind gave these two friends lots to talk about. Kat’s flower business was growing at The Gift Workshop, and Todd was seeing her love of flowers and design really shine. When Kat was at a crossroads of where to take her business next, Todd reminded her of what they always said Mint Hill needed: its own retail flower shop. In the coming weeks, Kat moved The Gift Workshop to a picturesque cottage house in downtown Mint Hill, and the Mint Hill Flower Market was officially in bloom.
As they reflected back on their first year of business as the founders of the Mint Hill Flower Market, Kat and Todd both choose to use the words “immense gratitude” to describe how they feel. When I asked them why planting the Mint Hill Flower Market in this community was important to them, these were their heartfelt responses:
“Mint Hill needed a local flower shop, a shop where people could walk in and meet with a professional floral designer,” said Todd. “Kat and I have been friends for years and always enjoyed designing flowers together. When Kat relocated The Gift Workshop to its current location in Downtown Mint Hill, I told her it would be a perfect fit for a flower shop. She had been doing flowers for years at The Gift Workshop but needed a push to break it away from that business model. Working in the flower industry myself for over 40 years, I’ve seen a few core factors that make a flower shop successful: talent, passion, and heart. Kat and I make a great team for a lot of reasons, but mostly because we take those core factors with us to work every day and share it with others. We love the opportunity to serve our community through our shop. This is our hometown; the people receiving our flowers are our neighbors. They matter to us. That’s why we love sharing our designs with them. We are passionate about it because, with each design, we are sharing a moment of someone’s life. That’s a powerful gift to share.”
“When I left corporate America to pursue this dream, I did so because I truly wanted to support my community,” said Kat. “Every day we have the opportunity to visit with a member of our community either in our shop or by phone, to help a family member or friend that lives out of town but wants to show love to someone special in their life. We also have the opportunity to honor someone’s life through funeral flowers, celebrate a couple’s milestone through wedding flowers, help someone who is grieving a loss, encourage a new parent welcoming a new baby, etc. Flowers are present through all seasons of someone’s life. I love the power that flowers have to change someone’s perspective in the mere moment of receiving them. Through flowers, people feel loved, and that’s a very powerful emotion in someone’s life. We feel honored to share at that moment.”
The Mint Hill Flower Market is located at 7717 Matthews-Mint Hill Road in Downtown Mint Hill. You can shop in-store, or reach them by phone at (980) 337-9386. You can also order online by visiting their website www.MintHillFlowerMarket.com. To follow them on social media, you can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MintHillFlowerMarket, and Instagram at www.instagram.com/minthillflowermarket.