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Second Shift: Therapy through horticulture

One New Yorker's stress-reducing hobby led her to start her own business.
Xristina Samira

For more about Xristina Samira's flower business, visit Tina Chadha/Metro

We all know living in the city is expensive. So, how does the average person make it work? Our Second Shiftseries features people working more than one job or have a creative way of making money. This week, meet a Brooklynite whose love of flowers transformed her entire career. If you want to be featured, email Emily.Laurence@metro.us.

Name:Xristina Samira
Age:30
Residency:Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Lives with:Her boyfriend
Number of jobs: 2

You're a part-time therapist and part-time florist. How did this all start?

I was running a women's shelter for homeless and severely mentally ill women in Brooklyn. Even though I loved the work and the people, I was stressed out. I started arranging flowers just for my own mental health. I started bringing flowers to work with me to use with my patients as part of our therapy together. We would arrange them together, or I'd just bring them to brighten their day.

How did you turn it into your business, La Vie Rosie?

A friend of mine was nice enough to give me some floral assistant gigs, just so I could get out there. Then Wanderlust, the yoga/music festival, asked me to be one of their flower vendors. After that, Lululemon had me do some of their events, and things went from there.

And now instead of working full-time at the women's shelter, you work part-time as a therapist?

Yes. The director at New Directions, where I work now, called me and said she came across my resume. She was wondering if I was interested in taking a supervisor's position and doing some private therapy. I pitched her the idea of horticulture floral therapy and she loved it.

So you use flowers as part of your therapy sessions?

We're still figuring it out, but my dream is to have my own flower shop/therapy center. One room would be a small floral shop and then in the back would be a room for traditional therapy and group therapy. I really want to run a group for the elderly because they get really isolated in their apartments and flower arranging is really good for arthritis. I want to have a storefront where low-income people or women with children who need to learn trades can come and sell their floral arrangements to people in the community and generate an income that way.

I can see how working with flowers can be its own type of therapy.

It actually took me a long time to put it together myself. I was doing the flowers for a small wedding, for a girl whose mother had died a month before the wedding, unexpectedly. It was awful. Because of the funeral costs, there wasn't a lot of money for the wedding and she decided to have it at her lakehouse. We were working on the flowers and the bouquets were sparse, so I started walking around the property and picking up wildflowers and different things to add to the bouquets. The bride was really touched because she had actually planted those flowers with her mother. I realized how much feeling goes into flowers. You get them when you're happy. You get them when you're sad. And that's what got me thinking about all of this.

For more about La Vie Rosie, visit lavierosie.com.

 
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