There’s a place on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, where everyone who walks through the door is family. There are actually two doors to enter this delightful ﬂower and gift shop called Magpie Blossom Boutique, this year’s winner of the “Retail Florist of the Year” award, cosponsored by Florists’ Review magazine and the Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association (WF&FSA).
One entrance welcomes people with a custom-designed European-inspired ﬂower cart, and the other is graced with stoneware planters ﬁlled with seasonal plantings, a black magpie bird sculpture and a sign that reads “We’re Glad You’re Here.” Once inside Magpie Blossom Boutique, visitors are greeted by the voice of a handsome yellow canary, a happy Jack Russell terrier and a delightful clan of women waiting to meet you and make you part of their family, too.
Owner Nikki Mackenzie, along with her daughters Kristen Waters and Malia Bybee and Nikki’s mother, Mary Frances, are in the store every day working with customers, creating art with ﬂowers and making sure everyone who walks through the doors feels right at home.
When Nikki was informed that Magpie Blossom Boutique had been chosen as the 2018 “Retail Florist of the Year,” she was thrilled. “We really didn’t know if we would win because we’re relatively new in this industry,” she said. “It’s great to have this afﬁrmation of the work we do and the business that we run on our gut instinct.”
With modest beginnings in what Nikki calls “the cottage” store, a small space with a 5-foot-by-6-foot cooler and “really great coffee maker,” business grew steadily from the moment she opened the doors in 2012. Nikki started Magpie Blossom Boutique with money from selling her home, a deep love of ﬂowers, and a passion for people and the special events in their lives. Back then, her mother would come and watch the store while Nikki delivered ﬂowers, and her daughters would help out on weekends.
After just a few years, it was evident they needed more space – and deﬁnitely more staff. Nikki’s daughter Kristen is now a full-time partner who does everything from ﬂoral design and producing Magpie’s beautiful website to providing all social media, setting up photos of their work and taking care of customers. And Malia works part time while she ﬁnishes college and then plans to become another full-time partner. In addition, several part-time employees help at busy times and with large events.
Nikki and Kristen dreamed and designed their current location, which they moved into in January, in the bedroom community of Bee Cave, Texas, which is known for its beautiful scenery and accessibility to all that Austin has to offer. Stepping inside the new shop, customers immediately feel transported to a sophisticated Paris concession. Imported ﬂoral wallpaper from Holland, handcrafted pottery, French ﬂower-market shelving, black-and-white ﬂower- patterned ﬂooring and Italian marble counters are just the ﬁrst things that delight the eyes and senses.
Nikki and Kristin designed the store with the customer experience as their focus. The store is divided into individual vignettes, where each corner feels like a new neighborhood. Nikki puts a lot of thought into her customers’ experience by creating custom play lists, offering coffee and nibbles, and crafting special aromas for the store. She always encourages folks to stay a while. “Even if people don’t buy anything, we want them to spend time in our store,” Nikki conﬁrms.
Wandering through the 2,800-square-foot store, patrons ﬁnd unique greeting and note cards and paper goods; ﬁne Sugarﬁna candies and chocolates; and a baby gifts section stocked with plush blankets, high-quality clothing and baby nursery décor. Shoppers also can browse through bath and body luxuries, candles and home fragrances, jewelry, men’s gifts, kitchen and gourmet goods, luxurious sleepwear, and more. This shop really has it all.
Nikki shares that 50 percent of her business is from the retail and gift items, and the other 50 percent is from ﬂoral.
The custom display cooler in the center of the store features a black-and-white tile ﬂoor with a distinct ﬂower pattern. The exterior cooler walls are covered in black beadboard and French garden iron fencing at the top. Inside the cooler is a hand-painted quote from Claude Monet: “I must have ﬂowers, always and always.”But the deﬁnite focal point of this marvelous space is the Magpie Flower Bar. Fifteen feet of Italian Carrara- inspired marble, black custom cabinetry, dazzling chandeliers, gold embellishments and extravagant hardware complete the look. Lively fabric covers comfy metal benches that line one side facing a custom chalkboard-painted wall. This is where casual classes such as “Basic Floral Design” and “Succulent Garden Planting” take place and is a perfect area to set up displays for special events.
The customer checkout counter is an extension of the ﬂower bar, with several more feet of Italian marble. Just behind the checkout counter is the ﬂoral design workspace. Customers can watch designs being created and can be inspired by and interact with the designers.
In the ofﬁce/bridal meeting room, brides-to-be are greeted with champagne, sweet treats and lots of inspirational materials to help plan the ﬂowers for their special day.
Involvement in their community is at the top of the list of important things for Nikki and her family business. The Magpie Blossom Boutique website (magpieblossoms.com) features a long list of local charities and community organizations that the business supports by donating money, products and time. Among those organizations are Citizen Advocates for Animals, Highland Lakes SPCA, Lake Travis Christmas Hope for Wounded Warriors, Komen Austin, Partnerships for Children and several area schools.
The local high school prom is a favorite event, and it’s a very busy time. “We have a reputation for our prom ﬂowers.” Nikki reports. “Every year, the fashion changes, and this year, they are all ordering mini bridal bouquets. We love making them and being a part of this special time in a young person’s life.”
weddings and events
The women of Magpie Blossom Boutique also design ﬂoral elements for many weddings every year along with many private and public events in the Austin area that have included large-scale Chinese New Year festivities, vintage circus-themed events and Great Gatsby-inspired parties.
When we asked Nikki about some of the most memorable events they have designed for, she tells us about a customer who hired them to help create a surprise wedding for her and her ﬁancé. She says they giggled as they covered every inch of the home and yard in beautiful blooms, twinkle lights in every tree and ﬂowers at the altar. The man came home to his own wedding. “We sure hoped he’d say yes!” Nikki laughs. “The day went off without a hitch. He said yes and sent us a very nice thank-you note afterward.”
Nikki and Kristen enjoy doing all of their marketing in house. Kristen designs, writes and produces all of the Magpie Blossom Boutique website content where customers can order ﬂowers and gifts online, check on upcoming events and discover newly arrived merchandise.
Other marketing tools include a monthly e-newsletter, advertising in local newspapers, informational pieces in bridal packets and at venue events, and mailing beautifully printed invitations and save-the-date pieces to customers for the company’s in-store events.
These events include an annual holiday party in late fall and a “Texas Tea Party” in the spring. At each event, they serve delicious food along with a signature adult beverage. The store is adorned with lavish ﬂoral displays, and the owners award generous door prizes throughout the events. These parties are highly anticipated and well attended by the local community.
Also during the holiday season, Magpie has an “ofﬁcial” North Pole mailbox set up in the store. They distribute printed postcards to every preschool in the area as well as in the store, with instructions to write a great letter to Santa and drop it off at store. Each letter writer receives a personalized response from Santa with an ofﬁcial North Pole waxed seal, mailed to his or her home address. These custom letters are offered at no charge, Nikki tells us, and generate amazing customer loyalty.
When we asked Nikki what she loves most about being in the ﬂoral industry, she replied, “We have a special closeknit family who love working together and being a part of this community. It’s a real honor to be able to help celebrate life’s biggest milestones with our customers.”
By Christine Wright