EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE From left, Tricia Hewitt, Emily Rivas and Shelle Holmes of Thurston Flowers.

THURSTON – Emily Rivas’ love of flowers started growing when she was 8 years old, playing in her family’s backyard garden in Hayward, Calif. 

“My mom had a vegetable garden and I just wanted some flowers,” said Rivas, 34. “I remember growing sweet peas and forget-me-nots. I had a Victorian flower book with the meanings. It’s something that I’ve always had a passion for.”

Rivas’ deep-rooted passion led her to enter into floristry when she was 18. Even back when she was scrubbing buckets and sweeping the floor, she knew she wanted to own her own shop someday. 

After years of hands-on training and earning a business degree from Jamestown Community College, Rivas’ lifelong dream has blossomed into a reality. Her love of flowers is in full bloom as the new owner of Thurston Flowers – just in time for Mother’s Day. 

“I’m so happy that I can’t believe it most days,” Rivas said. 

Since 2004, she’s worked in flower shops in California, New York, and Arizona. However, it wasn’t until this year, when she moved to Oregon and purchased Thurston Flowers, that she felt a part of the floral community. 

“I’ve worked in shops all over and it’s never felt as community-oriented as it does here,” Rivas said. 

She’s been pleased to find that the floral business in Oregon is not a competitive atmosphere, but that people treat it as a “team sport.” Other local flower shop owners and distributors have not only welcomed her, but have connected her with local farmers. 

“I want it to be as local or small business-oriented as possible,” Rivas said. 

She’s eager to buy flowers and plants from wholesale distributors throughout Oregon, such as Springfield’s Superior Greens Floral. She’ll also get to pick from 350 different varieties of flowers and foliage from Charles Little & Company, a 35-acre farm that sits on the foot of Mt. Pisgah – 10 minutes from downtown Eugene. 

All that a florist like Rivas has to do to shop from Charles Little is call and make an appointment to shop their big cooler. For the public, the company has a farm stand on the corner of Seavey Loop Road & Seavey Way, which is scheduled to be open Thursday-Sunday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. starting April 29. There, shoppers can pick up seasonal wreaths, bouquets, dried flowers and more. 

ELIZABETH GROENING/CHRONICLE PHOTO

Thurston Flowers under bright blue skies. “I’m so happy that I can’t believe it most days,” new owner Emily Rivas said, also noting new signs are ordered.

Bethany Little, who is a wreath-making extraordinaire and the co-owner of Charles Little, said “It’s wonderful to shop local. You want the smallest footprint possible on your flowers.” 

Through making these connections, Rivas is expecting to have a variety of locally sourced flowers this spring and summer, ranging from dahlias to viburnum to tulips. She welcomes the support, and as a new owner of a small business, she is determined to support other local businesses. She’s even invited Madison Bender, a local artist and senior at Springfield High School, to paint a flower mural inside of the shop.  

Rivas will also be selling locally made cards, lotions, earrings, and other unique items. This way, her customers can simultaneously support numerous local businesses. 

“I don’t want to sell things that you can buy on Amazon,” Rivas said. 

In addition to supporting locals, she’s hoping to bring the community of Springfield together through floristry. Her employee, Shelle Holmes, will be offering monthly design classes that will be announced on Facebook. On May 29, Thurston Flowers will be holding its first socially distanced class, teaching people how to create their own arrangements. In the future, Holmes will be offering classes on how to make succulent gardens. 

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE Emily’s DIY bouquet tips:

Let it flow: Make sure your bouquet has “movement.” Try adding cascading greens to your mixture.

Don’t over-flower: Make sure you include greens like baby’s-breath, ferns and such.

Textures are key: Pick flowers and greens with unique and complementary textures.

Dynamic: Arrange flowers in your hand, then cut flowers at different lengths.

“We are in this community and we want to stick together,” Rivas said. 

Meanwhile, she’s in the midst of preparing for her first Mother’s Day as the owner of Thurston Flowers. Next to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day is the busiest holiday for flower shops. Last year, Americans spent approximately $2.5 billion on flowers for their mothers. Rivas is getting ready for Sunday, May 9, by ordering vases and flowers ahead of time, as well as predicting what people will want. Her parents are coming into town to help her tackle the big day. 

“I love Mother’s Day flowers so much more than Valentine’s Day flowers because you get to be creative and have fun with it,” Rivas said. “It’s fun to utilize all of the local spring flowers.”

Tricia Hewitt, who has worked at the shop for 11 years, is helping Rivas get photos of the Mother’s Day bouquets up on their website. They encourage people to order ahead of time, but will be open for last-minute walk-ins on Mother’s Day from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Rivas and her delivery driver, Katie Mertens, will be delivering arrangements throughout the Springfield area. 

“It’s so rare to actually get flowers, so whenever we see somebody get flowers that they weren’t expecting, it lights up their face,” Rivas said.

Rivas said flowers are the ideal Mother’s Day gift because they’re an easy way to make moms feel loved and happy.